The mother of assumptions

I can cope well enough with some of the ridiculous feedback I get on my posts. The people (let’s face it – the men) who send me their thesis Everything Wrong With Your Article That I Don’t Care About At All…

Oh how they don’t care. They don’t care so much that they fill up my inbox with all of their not-caring. They insist they don’t care – aggressively (and in the most boring way possible).

Here’s 287 bullet points about how I don’t care at all about what you said. A rebuttal of every line that lasts a century.

I didn’t read the article but…

I don’t have kids but…

Because I’m wrong. So wrong. And everyone knows you cannot ignore an opinion you don’t agree with. You must (it’s your duty you must) say something.

Even if all I’m saying is I’m tired they’ll say ‘Well, actually…are you tired or are you exhausted? Because these are two different things and actually….”

Those I can take. I can laugh off (or at least sign deeply) about the man who told me that the laughter of children annoys him. I can ignore the person who told me I’m raising feral kids. I can roll my eyes at the woman on Twitter who has to subtweet every time I write anything (I give her life and I sincerely worry about what will happen to her if I stop writing). I can disregard the comments that say I don’t value myself – that I am trashy and embarrassing and gross and talentless and fat (if you see a fat person you must point out they are fat, otherwise how will they know?)

I even agree with some of the things they say about me.

It stings when someone says I’m a bad mother. Particularly if they land that blow on a day when I really feel like I’m a bad mother. It pricks when they say that my children are better off without me. Maybe because I’ve had days when I’ve thought that too. I chuckle when they say they feel sorry for my husband (I do too). It bothers me when they say that I exploit my children and that my children must hate me.

But I can handle those. Most of the time. I don’t like them, but after a year of abuse they’re starting to roll off me. Not really water off a duck’s back. More like washing play dough off your hands in the sink. It takes a while to get it all off, it’s sticky and messy. And you wonder why you ever fucking made play dough when it’s such a pain in the ass (I’m going off topic).

No – the thing that upsets me is the assumptions made about me by my fellow mums. The ones who also have it tough with wee ones. The ones in the same boat with me – trying to get up this creek without a paddle – or a broken one at least.

“Get back to me when you have a child who doesn’t sleep through the night”

“It’s easy to say that when you don’t work and you’re just hanging out at home. Some of us need to sleep”

“You’ll change your mind when you’ve got more than one child”

“If she had a job she wouldn’t have time to whinge so much”

“I’m so sick of her articles – she is so judgemental and she is bullying mums who aren’t perfect like she is”

“She’s one of those crunchy hippy mums who hates formula and c-sections”

“You might feel differently about vaccination if you knew what it was like to have a sick child”

“You’d be grateful if you knew what infertility was like”

Sometimes I feel like throwing in the towel. Because I keep getting told we are all in this together but somehow I’m not part of the togetherness…I feel like an outsider when I read some of the comments other mums make about me. I wonder why I’m not considered worthy of the benefit of the doubt. Or why they can never assume positive intention in my writing.

The assumptions hurt. And I’m not sure how to get past them.

Anyone who reads my posts knows my kids don’t sleep. Yes kids – I have more than one (but frankly, that doesn’t matter and it’s shitty to attack people for not being tired enough or overwhelmed enough. There’s no hierarchy – If you’re exhausted the response should be, “How can I support you” not “Well you don’t have two so shut up”).

The posts you’re reading on the Herald are work – that’s my job. Along with two other jobs. Yes I work three jobs and look after my children because that’s what we do to make ends meet.

I don’t know how anyone could think I think I’m perfect given the most common theme of my blog is:

What the fuck am I doing?

Yes, I breast-fed my second son, but I couldn’t with my first son. I love formula! Yes, I had an unmedicated birth – but I’ve never called it a natural or normal birth. That kind of language is language I’ve rallied against because they seem like value judgments – as if other births are unnatural or not normal. I vote Green but that’s probably due to lack of options. I don’t recycle so I don’t know what makes me a hippy.

I don’t even like dolphins.

I tried for four years to get pregnant with my first son. I was under the care of Fertility Associates for two years and I had three surgeries – so I know a little about what it’s like to feel truly and deeply that you’re never going to have the life you feel you can’t live without. But I don’t write about it because when I was trying I hated hearing people with children say to me “I was infertile! It will happen for you!” It felt unfair – it pissed me off. And it’s not a true statement for every woman. Sugar coating fertility hurts people. So I don’t do it. I boost the voices of those women who are living that life now instead.

And I am pro-vaccination because of what my sons have been through with their health. I don’t have the privilege of being anti-vaxx. I don’t know anyone who has seen their child unable to breathe on their own who then says “oh you know whooping cough is just a cough!”


Assumptions ruin everything.

All of the assumptions people make about mothers, about each other – they stop us being able to connect. They burn down the village. They keep us lonely and isolated.

When you have little information to go on – don’t assume the worst in people. I know it’s hard – I have to actively try to stop myself. And here’s why I do:

The one thing that has keep me afloat in this whole crazy year of weirdness is my circle of mama friends. My coven. We are all really different women – and sometimes I wonder how we ever found each other in the first place.

But I’m so glad we found each other.


We looked past all of the bullshit assumptions that stop you from taking that step to say Hi, how are you? Is that your little one? How old?

For whatever reason they looked past my scatteredness, the awkward jumbly way I talk – my social faux pas, the way I dress (Soccer Mom Dressed as a Goth for her High School Reunion) and the fact that my foot is always protruding from my mouth.

They gave me a chance and I gave them a chance. And now we really, really are all in this together.

I try my best never to assume now. When I see and talk to another mother and my brain starts up, wanting to sort them into that kind of mum or this kind of mum (that need for order is weird and we all do it) I force myself to stop.

I remind myself what happens when you close yourself off, only see the worst. Make assumptions that put someone into a negative light so you can’t see any good in them. That darkness we created keeps us from each other.

I remember that it would be a tragedy to go through this time as a mum new in the world all alone.  That if there’s one thing I regret it won’t be the way I parented, it will be that I didn’t reach out because I was too busy assuming the worst in people when I could have opened a hand and a heart…

I stop myself. I start fresh:


Is that your little one?

How old?

18 Comments on “The mother of assumptions

  1. Love it, love it, love it…….thank you so much as always for your inspirational words Emily, I love reading your blog and can’t get enough of it……thank you, thank you, thank you

    • Today I contemplated getting a bigger bin and then I felt guilty cos if only I recycled… ☺️

  2. I thought of you and your blog last night when I was in the library and I overheard a mum being quite tough / harsh on her child re: homework. I didn’t interact with her (she was in another room) but I reminded myself: “You don’t know anything about her, do not judge a total stranger, if people based their opinion of you as a parent on nothing except hearing you speak to your kids the way you sometimes do in the privacy of your own home in moments of tiredness and impatience, and knew nothing else of your relationship with them they’d probably think you were a bad mum too.”

    Stay strong. Most of the judgement is about the person issuing it, not about you. What you do is really important, and sometimes those who it is most helpful for are the silent ones.


  3. You’re wonderful, Emily. And for every person who says something horrid, I’m sure there are at least 10 mums (and dads!) blessing you for being so honest and loving.

  4. Can I just say I fucking love every word you write and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve shared your posts with all of my lovely mum friends who need to hear once in a while that it’s ok to love your kids and still consider leaving them on the doorstep for the neighbourhood cats to raise…you somehow put words to everything that is being a new mum, and the thought that you might throw in the towel has made me come out of the woodwork to tell you that for every one mum who replies here or reaches out there are at LEAST five more lurking in the shadows copying links and firing them out during a 3am feed. DO NOT STOP. Either parenting, or writing about it x

    • I agree with Libby! I’m a lurking mum and LOVE your writing and have literally sent articles to mum friends at 3am feeds ? you’re a fab mum and an awesome voice for us. You make me laugh out loud, pause and reflect. I actually think I’m a better mum and person for reading your thoughts and experiences. Thank you, thank you. X

  5. Hi Emily, please keep on writing. Don’t be discouraged. The more a blog and platform grows, the more the criticisms come too. Those criticisms come from others who are perhaps jealous of your success as a writer. Tall Poppy Syndrome is prolific in NZ sadly.

  6. I love your blog’s because they are real. I belong to a wonderful one and done face book group who all suffer at the hands of judgemental comments who just want us to conform and have another child. Those people, like the trolls you get don’t know the pain that goes into every decision we make as parents. Go have another glass on wine and flip them the finger knowing we are there with you.

  7. I’m an elderly Grandma and stumbled upon this. It is how we have always felt, us mums, but you have voiced it so clearly…good for you – and for all those struggling on ‘alone’. Too many ‘silos’, then and now – keep pushing over those walls!

  8. If you lived in Chch, I would hunt you down and befriend you as I think you are awesome and I’d love a friend like you. (Not that I don’t have any, just that I love truth teller, supportive , laugh at the crazy thing called motherhood friends). I don’t know what to say about the others- Defend yourself but you know their comments say far more about themselves than about you. I love your truth and we’ve never even met. So there. Happy Friday Soul sister xxx

  9. This made me cry. Your blog has given me so much, reading it has helped me through many sleepless nights and so many days when I felt tired, desperate and alone, even though I live on the other side of the world. Don’t let other people’s judgment get you down, you are great the way you are!

  10. Your writing actually helps this mother feel connected (and I’m also lucky to have a coven) because its aggressively honest, funny and not whiny. The sad thing is you’re getting that feedback from mums who don’t take the time to follow your work or really read your articles or they really just don’t get it, so it’s a crap shoot whether this one will hit home for them , but at least now you can just send those mums a link to this one each time they respond and be done with it. Keep on keeping on, goth soccer mom, you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone!

  11. Please don’t ever even *contemplate* stopping what you are doing. Your writing is honest, hilarious, refreshing and SO necessary to all of us mums! As others have posted, I have laughed out loud and sent links to your blog so many times. My husband had said “What on Earth are you READING??” I’ve laughed so hard at your posts. Forget the haters, you do you, because you are awesome.

  12. What everyone else said. Seriously. You will never know how many people you’ve helped, like actually really HELPED, by your writing…me being a grateful one of them. Thanks Emily, I’m so glad a nice mum passed your site on to me xxx

  13. You are my 3am go to read as I sit here eating uncooked lactation biscuit mix. You could literally write the alphabet on repeat and I would read it. You would also get fools who’d tell you that its not ABC, its actually ABV because people just cannot stand letting someone be and reading someone else’s work without poking their finger in it and wiggling it around to mess with it (gross mental image). What you write resonates with so many people that is probably makes just as many people feel uncomfortable – because you speak the truth and resonate with them but they don’t want to hear it. I wish I was as brave as you to write like you do, its like you see inside so many of our minds but actually have the courage to throw it out there in your amazing words. It must be so hard to shake off those idiots, but if you have the strength to keep doing it, we need you x

  14. Sorry I’m late, but what Libby said. There really are a whole lot of folks lurking who love your writing, it’s meaningful and funny, and just because we don’t always call it out ‘haha you’re so FUNNY’ don’t mean it ain’t true. Hope that helps keep the trolls in perspective.