Once upon a time I was pregnant from our first son. I tackled this life event, in true Sofie style, by reading fifty books. That reader speed of course got lost forever. Halfway through my pregnancy, I knew everything there was to know.
What was left were mommy blogs, and the big question: will we able to manage it all?
Mama blogs are one thing, the comments on the forums something else entirely.
I wasn’t pregnant alone. No B wasn’t pregnant with me, don’t get me started on that one. Both parents are expecting, only one is pregnant, unless they both have a uterus, good timing and a lot of guts.
My best friend and I, we have good timing. We were pregnant together twice and gave birth on the same day once.
I chose to try and breastfeed. She chose not to. I succeeded the first time. RSV-infection and a kid that expected the food to drop into his mouth without any effort from his part made me fail the second time round, after six weeks. But that was okay. I already knew that would work too.
We both made a choice and it was not the same one. We both had solid reasoning, we have different lives, we are different. You can be different together. She has held up my scarf while I handled my logistics, I’ve warmed up her bottles. I look back upon that time with joy in my heart, and I look forward to the stages still ahead. May the allow for cuddles again.
A few weeks back I started watching Firefly Lane, about the friendship between a writer woman and a career woman. If that sounds like a bad summary, that would be because I quit watching after ten minutes. When career woman started talking writer woman’s clothing choices down. Firefly Lane could be good. But it lost me on that. I’m done with the bitching.
I live in the land of men and their eternal underpants (why are you all never cold?) but my friend managed to salvage me some girl time by signing us up for padel tennis lessons. Belgium’s national Covid-19 sport (that’s actually walking, so many walks, they are endless). She’s a visionary, she arranged this before arranging it became impossible. I started writing this blog post ten minutes later than intended because she called to schedule our next few sessions. Which lifted my heart, because there’s a rough time ahead. I cried on the road to our last lesson together. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who cried this week.
The problem with pregnancy forums was that there was an army of reactions of people, trying desperately to defend their life choices. The first time I breastfed, it went pretty well. My eldest was a pro, he gained weight quickly, he still slept lots of hours and even with a baby like that, and a spouse like mine, it was heavy. But the measurable results were there. Round of applause, welcome to the mommy brigade. Or not. Because I dare to work and have a social life, and I should not be writing this, I should have something else to do.
I do of course. It’s next in line. Bathing the kids, folding laundry. Home-schooling, work, food. Got it. House to clean, gotta do my make up, because we shouldn’t look like we’re not coping. There is still time to write.
Dear breastfeed tyrants, you applauded my choices but I have never applauded you. I don’t want to get to know you. How dare you put down one of the people I love the most? You know how I made time for the things I love? By not reading one more word you said.
Today I sat at the hairdressers, the day before they closed for the third time. Look at the average Facebook group and you’d believe we should have been screaming at each other and blaming each other for the mess we’re in. And the government (okay we did that a little bit). I work for the government, by the way. Occasionally we get something right, believe it or not. I picked up the kids from school, for the last time in … three weeks? We don’t know.
When I read the comments, I’m ready to puke. But then I use my eyes, and in our digital groups and on my pc screen, I see people trying to lift each other. My hairdresser asked whether I still had time to write (check). My friend is making sure that we see each other. The parent group from school is trying to keep each other posted on all possibilities as schools close again. The teachers, my kids love them, and they cope with so much. My colleagues are trying to make each other laugh, even though I’m sure they don’t find it funny at all.
I am trying to get my priorities straight.
What more can I stand to miss, and how much in a day can I do without caving? What can I ditch?
I read the Facebook tyrants, saying that a proper mom wouldn’t be writing this. That they should stay home and not complain. The nurses and the doctors, who can’t stay home, they read them. The hairdressers whose bills are piling up, the shop keepers who are trying not to go bankrupt, they read them. The teleworkers who ‘are in the possibility to combine work and homes-schooling’, they read them. A job that doesn’t require you to leave the house can’t possibly be tough or important, right?
To all the essential workers who have to leave the house, emergency day-care for the win. And whether their kids can cope going to a largely empty school without most of their friends, the Facebook tyrants don’t care.
I won’t ditch my kids, my job, my partner, my friends, my family, or the parent group. I won’t ditch my writing. I’ll try my best, and I’ll change course when I fail.
But dear Facebook tyrant, social media trolls and woke news item commenters I’ve checked my priorities, and it turns out that I am on hundred percent ditching you.