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No, I Will Not Talk About #MomLife

March 16, 2020 in Daily, Motherhood, Rant
Rebecca Jones-Howe in a church playroom with her children.

I used to dream of run a mom blog back in the day. This was back in 2004 when I idolized Dooce, a popular mom blogger who uh, definitely lives herself an unstable life of cringe now, to put it mildly. I like to think that I dodged myself a nice bullet because we now live in a day where most parents think twice about sharing personal details about their lives online. #momlife, right?

I’d never want to run a mom blog now because again, blogging is more about affiliate marketing and monetizing content and dumbass Instant Pot recipes that take 10,000 years to scroll down to than it is about personal content.

A Mom Blog In A Blog Post

When was the last time I talked about motherhood? I cannot recall, for I find great difficulty in doing so. First, because the idea of talking about #momlife sets off my anxiety. Second, because I’m kind of a sub-par mom and I really do not have advice to share with you. I hate leggings and baby carriers and I hate mom forums and never felt entirely comfortable breastfeeding in public. I am not a “stereotypical mom”, but I still am a mom, and well, I’m gonna try my best to explain myself here.

After all, I used my first novel to vent all my frustrations about becoming a mother, so I’m at the point where I’ve successfully offloaded the trauma and misguided anger has from my chest. So let’s talk about motherhood, shall we?

I’ve discussed my postpartum depression before. I realize now that I should have asked for help but hey, when they put your child on your chest and everyone’s gushing and fussing and taking pictures, you kind of just go for the ride. It’s the mom stereotype.

That baby’s placed in your arms you’re forced to play the damn part.

I did the best that I could, faking it for the nurses and for family. Then we got home. We were a family now. We had a new member, a new person that didn’t exist before. I supposed there was a sense of excitement around that concept. The cats sniffed my daughter, confused. Me? I didn’t feel that sense of automatic love one is supposed to feel after giving birth, and I felt like something was wrong.

What Makes A Good Mother, Anyway?

Desperate for clarity, I consulted the Internet and found myself in a vortex of mom forums. Like me, these women wanted advice, wanted consolation, wanted to know they weren’t fucking crazy insane. But they sounded crazy fucking insane, using all these damn acronyms.

DD. DS. DH. SAHM. EBF.

Sitting up until the early hours of the morning trying to breastfeed my daughter without my nipples screaming in agony, I found myself growing enraged every time I had to ask the Internet for parenting help. I hated these women. I felt like I was engaging with cult members.

They laughed about everything, talked about their kids all the time, about how amazing their husbands were. They made teething solution about of essential oils. Every one of their posts featured the hashtag: #momlife

To be fair, I don’t want to criticize modern mothers or #momlife. It’s a tough gig full of undervalued labour and social isolation. Ultimately, the Internet proves to be a major resource for many moms and I recognize its value.

#momlife is a Trend

Truth is, I’m just an asshole.

I’m also a hypocrite, because I’ve used #momlife to tag some of my posts on occasion. It just frustrates me when I click on the damn #momlife on Instagram and it’s literally full of white sisters with professionally-taken family photos and those saccharine AF rustic quote signs with that millennial cursive font and gorgeous marble-countered kitchens fully stocked with fucking Rae Dunn mugs.

Now, I realize is mean to mock people for liking what’s trendy. It’s the hipster in me. I personally enjoy my 60s – 70s mid-century vibes, so feel free to tell me how fucking tacky the retro deer collection in my bathroom is. Home decor is subjective.

Unrealistic Expectations

My daughter was born 6 months before Princess Charlotte, and as a woman with a weird infatuation with Kate Middleton, I found myself delighted with the prospect that we were both pregnant at the same time. Then that whole story about how Kate lost all the baby weight three months later came out, and yeah, that shit messed with me.

I remember posting on Facebook about it and plenty of other moms shrugged it off, saying things like IT’S ALL SO UNREALISTIC! YOU LOOK TOTALLY FINE! SHE HAS TRAINERS AND TIME AND NANNIES AND SHIT!

And yes, they are correct! I knew that. But dang, my body was a mess.

Mom-Bod

Most of my adult life I’d been treading into obesity. I wasn’t entirely out of shape but I wasn’t in shape either, and yes I hated the crap out of my pre-pregnancy bod most of the time. My love of fashion did allow me to explore creative options. However, my new mom body refused to fit into my old clothes. Getting ready for church every Sunday became an absolute nightmare.

And that goes without mentioning the horrific C-section scar, but we’ll get to that.

I didn’t feel like myself and my body didn’t feel like mine and it didn’t matter how much I talked about it. Everyone was just like, IT’S OKAY YOU LOOK FINE YOU LOOK AMAZING OMG AREN’T YOU SO IN LOVE WITH YOUR DAUGHTER?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

I felt fucking crazy. My feelings were left invalidated. The urge to scream always lingered, but I smiled and held my daughter. I kept faking it because stereotypical moms talked about their babies all the time. So I answered all the questions even though I could never get the facts straight about how she was sleeping or how many diapers I’d changed or how much milk she’d consumed.

The Scar

I said I planned on getting to this, right?

Before getting pregnant, I had these big plans of a perfect natural birth. All those mom blogs made it seem so empowering and easy and I thought I was a tough lady and that I would manage. In addition to being a “tough lady” I am also a Type 1 Diabetic, which meant that my pregnancy was “high risk” and that when my blood pressure spiked in the 9th month that things were not going to go my way. I ended up induced. Labour chose not to progress. Then, three days later, when it became evident that my daughter struggled with the contractions, I chose to have a C-section.

I got over my longtime fear of surgery, but not having the birth experience I wanted proved difficult to work through. The C-section contributed to the PPD. The resulting scar was like a participation ribbon.

THANKS FOR PARTICIPATING IN THE BIRTH EXPERIENCE!

BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME!

So that sucked. The ugliness of it. That whole C-shelf thing? The fact that the bump showed through all my pants? The fact that capitalism had to make me insecure about it by following me around in banner ads for those fucking C-shelf panties that cost like $40 a pair?

I didn’t die like Lady Sibyl. That was my only consolation at the time. C-sections save lives and get babies out of your body. It’s major surgery and I did it twice. And yes, it’s taken a long time to work through my guilt and anger and “loss” of what is considered to be the ideal birth experience. But I’m okay now.

New Lady

My body eventually turned normal again, with some stretch marks and the aforementioned scar, yes, but I managed to slip back into normalcy. I went back to work and I wrote my novel, The View From the Basement, about all the of the above. The process proved cathartic and relieving. It allowed me to embrace some of that stereotypical mom stuff too, and I often talk about my kids with my other mom friends and coworkers.

In other words, I’m less hateful now.

After the PPD crisis, I spent a lot time getting to know myself again. Women give up so much of themselves when they become mothers and I think that once a child starts becoming their own person that it’s important for a mother to grow back into herself too. Writing was a major part of the process but I also got into makeup.

Makeup was one of those things that intimidated me as a teen. I never wore it, could never apply it correctly. I went bare-faced into my late 20’s before finally watching some YouTube videos. And lemme just tell you that it’s a fun community. It’s not intimidating and it’s not ultimately about vanity. It’s about creativity. I might have to get up an hour or so earlier than I usually would to put it on, but I’ll listen to a podcast while doing it. I have fun when I put on my makeup.

In addition, I also figured out how to properly do my hair. My whole life, I’d always wanted pretty curls. Doing my hair always intimidated me. I never used to invest much time in my hair or my face but doing so really helped my self-esteem.

Note:

I don’t want to suggest that my turnaround should apply to every woman. I’m just an insecure lady who grew up saturated with beauty norms and yes, a part of my personality is invested in those norms. I accept that. I’ve got insecurities and unrealistic ideals. I’ll never not want to look like Kate Middleton when I go to church on Sunday.

Another mom’s “personal investment” might differ from mine.

All I’m saying is that it was nice to finally embrace the “self-expression” I wanted to embrace when I younger, and that I felt I finally could as a grown-ass woman, and a mom. The 16 year-old Rebecca who just wanted to wear black lipstick would be so damn proud of me now.

Losing Weight + Diabeetus

Like most women, I have spent a majority of my life fretting about my weight. In the interest of being sensitive to others, I don’t like to talk about diets or my ideal body type. Nevertheless, before I decided to have a second kid, I did lose a large amount of weight by doing the keto diet.

Losing the weight was of course part of the reason why my husband and I decided to go keto. But, as a Type 1 Diabetic with high blood pressure that never did return to normal after my daughter was born, I also realized the the diet could benefit my health.

My blood pressure normalized. My blood sugars remained stable. I stopped having to get up every night to treat hypoglycemia. I cut my insulin doses in half. My thyroid levels returned to normal. And I gotta say that getting that clear bill of health from my doctor felt so effing good.

Aaaaaand then I got pregnant again and gained all the weight back. The blood pressure spiked again and I dealt with all the standard diabetic pregnancy shit, but I’m 11 months postpartum and back to my pre-pregnancy post-keto weight. All is good.

Becoming A Mom is a Personal Journey

I return to work in a couple of weeks, and quite honestly, this new change scares me.

Writing (and blogging!) has found its way back into my life. It’s an integral part of my identity and I’m grateful and blessed to have kids who go to bed and sleep through the night and allow me to stay up until 2AM writing every night. I am, how do you say it… #blessed.

I don’t know. I hate the whole #momlife thing because it makes the experience seem so white and suburban and commonplace, and this goes without getting hardcore political about the experience of moms in poverty, single moms, minority moms, transgender moms, etc.

I’m mixed-race and I have a chronic disease but my experience is still pretty privileged as far as I’m concerned. My coffee-joint of choice is Starbucks and yes I like the egg bites. I could probably run a successful mom blog if I just joined Amazon Affiliates instead of wanting to guillotine Jeff Bezos. I could probably get more hits if I made up my own Instant Pot recipe for DIY Starbucks egg bites that linked to some sponsored Pepperidge Farm cheese and Epicure paprika or whatever.

My issue is capitalism. I don’t want to whore out massive corporations and brands if I don’t care about them. I tried it a little with my outfit posts on Instagram but I can’t commit the time required to do it well. This definitely sounds cheesy, but I jUsT wAnT tO wRiTe HoNeSt CoNtEnT oKaY?!?!?!?!?!!!!

I don’t know what percentage of today’s self-proclaimed “mom blogs” don’t have affiliate ads or sponsored posts or utilize marketing of some form. They’re less about telling you the honest reality and more about selling you a dumb baby carrier or some organic mac and cheese or some C-shelf smoothing leggings. I can’t fucking stand it.

Talking #MomLife

I realize that in order to sell my novel (which is a sort of psychological horror about #momlife) that I need to talk about #momlife more. Not just my personal #momlife but about mainstream #momlife and mom culture in general, because it’s a lot of the online “mom influencer” life that inspired my novel.

Truthfully, I’m just trying to find my angle. I can promise that I’ll be hitting you with some honest #diabeetusmomlife content soon. (No ads here, people! Just annoying posts about my #writinglife fused in.)

And the only reason why I used the #momlife so gratuitously in this post is to trick Yoast SEO into thinking that I formatted this post for correct SEO optimation when all I want is to is post a diary-like blog post like we used to do in the old days, dammit. But hey, we’re full-circle here. I grew up and got married and had kids and now I have my stupid mom blog. 2004 Rebecca would be so proud.

Anyway, I’ll post some more mom stuff soon because I know a bulk of my audience is probably moms? I see you moms and I hope I didn’t offend you with my rant. I might mock your Rae Dunn mug collection I still stand in solidarity because life is tough and kids are frustrating and coffee is what we all need in our veins. And yes, I do like wine but it’s not keto and I can’t always drink it because my diabeetus doesn’t know how to deal with the sugar.

My son just woke up from his nap so I gotta wrap.

How do you #momlife?

Are you a mom? Do you like mom-based content? Has it helped you in your momming experiences? If you’re not a parent, does this form of content alienate you? Why or why not?

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Rebecca

Rebecca is a neo-noir author from Kamloops, British Columbia. Her first collection of gritty short fiction, Vile Men was published by Dark House Press in 2015. She also writes about her writer lifestyle on her blog at rebeccajoneshowe.com.

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  • Emily Slaney March 17, 2020 at 5:22 am

    Yes I’m a mom (21 year old & 16 year old… I started early😉) and no I don’t buy into mommy blogging and all theses abbreviated letter nick names. And I def don’t want to be sold something! I don’t have a problem with you talking about your experiences though because you’re not pretending – and honesty will always crush a fake ass reality. A manic pixie dream mom? 🤔 I also hate this new trend of cleaning influencers too! God damn how much time do these women have? And regarding PPD, I think this needs to be a conversation more people have, it needs the kind of recognition that anxiety and depression now have – to break the stigma and understand the symptoms so that more support can be given. I enjoyed this #antimomlife #reallife post, I hope you do more 😊

    • Rebecca March 17, 2020 at 5:54 am

      My mother-in-law always tells me how much time she wasted obsessing about having a clean house and how she wishes she could get that time back. My sister-in-law, however, is a natural cleaner and has always kept a clean house since I’ve known her, so there’s def a balance with personality types. I am, unfortunately, an anxiety cleaner, so I try to keep things clean until I get lazy and then curse the living hell out of myself for living like such a disgusting loser and I’ll devote an hour or two to cleaning up a room entirely, vowing never again to let it get so bad.

      It always does, though.

    I'm Rebecca Jones-Howe, a neo-noir writer and author of the short story collection, VILE MEN. My work has been featured in [PANK], Pulp Modern and Punchnel's, among other magazines. This site houses my writing profile and my blog, which features posts on writing, fashion, lifestyle + more. Want more?

    - RJH

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