Oh God but it can be hard can’t it, to step away from something you feel passionately about? And I get it. I GET IT. You want to argue your point. You think you’re entitled to do so. But let me tell you, lady-with-a-keyboard, sometimes you’re not. Sometimes you need to step back and not make this about you. Sometimes you just gotta live and let live and accept that your journey is different to other peoples’. And that’s ok.
Bit of context. I’m a member of several Facebook groups made up exclusively of mums. Over the years I have slowly deleted the passive aggressive ‘gentle parenting’ ones, when they became anything but gentle, the ones where members tried to sell me leggings or aloe vera creams, the ones which spammed me with content I didn’t ask for and I’ve remained a member of a few which, mostly, are supportive and kind towards other mothers.
But still, even here. This week I’ve seen two separate posts where mothers were admitting that they were falling short of the standards they had set themselves. That they were struggling under the familial load. They were asking for reassurance, a friendly ear. They were not asking for opinions.
Oh, but they got them.
To the mother who was struggling with her four children under four came the comments from other mothers “well I had five and I coped”. Good for you mate. Or, worse: “You shouldn’t have had kids if you couldn’t cope”. Seriously? Are we not allowed to say that it’s hard without someone coming up with this ‘argument’? Why do people feel the need to be so hurtful? Do they even know how hard to can be to ask for advice? To admit that you may be struggling? Are they aware that one of the reasons most women don’t seek help for their mental health issues is because of attitudes like this?
I honestly don’t understand what compels people to act like this. Even if it’s online, those words can still cut.
There’s so much that isn’t known or understood about mental health, particularly mental health in motherhood. (Although, if you haven’t seen it, the series that Natasha Bailie is doing on this is awesome). But if someone is open about the fact that they have anxiety, you’d expect some tenacity, some compassion. To the mother who openly said that her anxiety had gotten so bad she was afraid to leave the house, out came the wolves.
“Your attitude is going to harm your daughter” said one caring onlooker.
Seriously? How hard is it to be kind people? How hard is it to take a moment and think “today I am not going to be an arsehole”. Because that is what you are. It you tear someone down who has had the guts and the strength to ask for help from strangers – can you imagine how alone that person feels that they have to do this – then you’re an arsehole.
And I get the whole itchy finger syndrome. Last week I called someone ‘idiotic’ on a post because they said they thought women’s liberation had gone too far (another post for another day, people). I’m not above keyboard warrior-ing although I do have a rule that I will only ever write what I would happily say to someone’s face.
I don’t accept the argument either that “well I thought they should know how I feel”. Because, bollocks. Why should they? I know people who do this to me. Who when I’m wearing a certain thing will put me down and then say “that’s just what I think, you asked me”. Actually, no I didn’t. I believe that if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all. Maybe have a think about what you’re saying. How many terrible things are said and then followed by the sentence “well that’s just my opinion”?
So what I am saying is think. Think before you post. Think about the person on the other side of the screen and what their day has been like and their reasons for saying what they are saying. Support each other. Even if that means just stepping away from something and doing nothing.