When we share

Occasionally, I see comments from grumpy people who are very offended. Not by what I’ve written necessarily – more just, that I’ve written at all. They can usually be found on Facebook, when someone else has shared my post. They never seem to have the guts to tell me on my page or on this blog. And there was one on my first post in the NZ Herald (I know, I said I wouldn’t read the comments, but people kept telling me they were nice so I went back…and they were nice, so thank you everyone who said nice things).

Anyway, these responses to me writing (not my writing) are variations on:


I thought about writing about these people a while back. These people who are just obsessed with telling you via social media that this thing that you’re doing – via social media – is just EVERYTHING WRONG IN THE WORLD WITH PARENTS. Nobody wants to read about what you have to say,  they say, as they read what you have to say.

They say that “normal” people don’t share ALL OF THEIR LIVES on social media. That they – anonymous angry people – only tell “close friends” about their lives (heh – I find it hard to believe any of them have friends let alone close friends). They certainly don’t SPEW EVERY MOMENT OF THEIR LIVES all over the internet.

Is this spew? I don’t think so. Well actually, sometimes I feel like I have to get these posts out – so maybe they are a tad vomitous. Isn’t that just writing in general though? I sure hope so.

One very important man who can’t let an opinion different to his stand says I’m pathetic. He says parenting is private. All of it. Or maybe just some of the bits – Jeff didn’t specify what parts you’re allowed to talk about and on which platforms. Which is utterly devastating for me as a grown woman who deeply wants to please Jeff.

I don’t really understand this idea that there are some things we are allowed to talk about and some things we are not allowed to talk about. It seems to suggest you’re allowed to say you’re a parent, but not what parenting is like for you. There doesn’t seem to be a master list that says which topics are OK and which ones aren’t. You’re allowed to tell family and friends about your life but only in person?

Are my friends on Twitter imaginary? Are the people I’ve met through this blog and become close friends with somehow less real than other friends? Just because we don’t talk face to face?

Parenting makes your world bigger as it makes it smaller. There’s nothing quite so isolating as parenting – being up during the night rocking your baby to sleep alone. But when you pull out your phone and talk to other parents on Twitter – even if it’s just:

“wow I’m so tired”

“Same! It’s 4am here and he’s been feeding for three hours!”

“I feel you – it’s midnight here and mine has a cold”

“Cluster feeding sucks!”

You’ve expanded your tiny world. Reaching across oceans and giving a weak and tired thumbs up to another parent is special. It’s important. It makes us feel less alone, less lonely. It connects us. Binds us. How can you see so much negativity in that?

How can you think sharing is wrong when half the time as parents we are drilling into our kids that they have to share?

In a little Facebook group someone says ‘is this normal?’ and they’re scared, and they’re worried, and they’re not sure if they should be scared and worried and someone in Picton tells them that their baby did that too and it was fine and don’t be worried and it’s OK to be scared. And you can almost feel the relief from the mum in Tuakau.

Or when you see a mum say that she can’t cope and she feels like she can’t be alone right now because maybe, maybe she can’t take this anymore. And suddenly a little community springs into action and they go to her house and they take her to the GP and while she’s there other mums clean her house and look after her baby and drop over some cooked meals.

In a group for parents who make their own baby food, or whose kids wear cloth nappies, or in a group for buying and selling kids books, or a group for parents of kids with disabilities or in a group of mums from the UK, someone says they can’t stop crying because their six year-old is sick and their four-year-old is sick and they have mastitis, another mum says she will get her some pain killers and some cabbage from the supermarket. She’ll be over in half an hour and she’ll bring lunch for the kids.

This isn’t new – parents have needed help and connection and love forever. We just have new ways of sharing and supporting and caring now.

It’s a common theme to say we don’t have villages anymore. But I think we do. I think our villages are online – and they’re scoffed at, just because they’re online.  And that’s BS.

Because – Aren’t you glad she has someone to reach out to? How can you begrudge that? What would she have done if she’d followed your advice? Shut up. Suffer in silence. Stop being so pathetic.

I have written about some really personal things – my prenatal depression being one of them. And it was really hard to write about. I felt like I was going to vomit as I pressed publish – so you know, maybe that spew comment isn’t far off the mark. But you know what – my inbox was flooded with mums who had either been through the same thing or were going through the same thing.

And three mothers told me it saved their life.

So the “how very dare you” mob can bugger off. We CAN talk about this stuff. WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT THIS STUFF. We can support each other and reject this ridiculous narrative that people force on us.

I’m sick of the idea that there are mummy wars and parents these days share too much and they overthink everything and in days gone by you just got on with it and this and that and we’re all just doing everything wrong.

We do get on with it. But shit, we help each other while we are getting on with it. And sending a tweet saying “You doing OK? Rough night?” is no different to leaning over the fence and saying “Want a cuppa?”

We’re not doing everything wrong. We’re doing this solidarity thing right. Every day I see beautiful, breathtaking kindness online – I’ve never seen a parent ask for help online and not get it.

When you’re in pain you can talk about it. You can ask for help. You can share your stories and help others. Your friends online are just as real as any other friends. The community you create – on Twitter, Facebook, a blog, a forum – it’s real, don’t let anyone tell you it’s not.

And you can talk about whatever the fuck you want whenever the fuck you want wherever the fuck you want.

I can take nasty comments. I don’t like them, but I can take them. There will always be people in the world who are mortally offended by the fact that you wrote a blog and they didn’t agree with it. I know that. I’ve dealt with it and I know I’ll continue to deal with it.

But it’s worth it. It’s more than worth it.

And it’s how I want to parent. I don’t want my sons to feel like they need to hold in their emotions. To only share their lives with a tiny few. Closed in and closed up is not the way I want them to be. I don’t want them to build walls, I want them to knock them down.

I print every post I write and put it into a little folder. When the boys are older I would love it if they wanted to read them. I will feel proud to tell them that I got to share our lives a little, and that by sharing we made our world a little bigger and brighter. And I will tell them about Abi in the UK and how we are mum friends even though we will never meet, and I will tell them that their best friends are children whose mothers I met in Facebook groups and who are now my nearest and dearest friends, I will show them the emails from mums in Denmark and Japan and Johannesburg saying these stories make them smile. I will tell Eddie that we set up a charity for kids like him – that dozens of kids dance every week because his love of life (that never diminishes no matter what he faces) inspired so many that they donated over a thousand dollars for the cause. That there were donations to the children’s hospital in his name after each of his surgeries. I’ll tell Ham that his birth made me a writer and brought all of these wonderful opportunities for our family. That his birth made someone on Twitter fart-laugh (I reckon at aged two that’s going to be a real winner story for him so I might crack it out sooner).

I’ll tell them both that we’re all part of something bigger – and that when we share we bring people together and there’s never anything wrong with doing that. No matter what anyone says.


Here I am oversharing again.



If you liked this, follow me on Facebook for more of the same. I’m on Instagram too!

27 Comments on “When we share

  1. Love this…we mama’s so very much need a village to help us raise our babies and most of us don’t easily find that in our family or neighborhood anymore so online it is. I only hope that Jeff can one day experience the awesomeness of a kind village so he can stop trying to pull genuinely amazing people down and instead can hold his head up high and support others.

    • Online is all there is for a lot of people. I think so many forget that. A little bit of perspective might help the Jeffs of the world.

  2. It’s been years since I’ve had a kid as young as Eddie or Ham, but I love reading your stuff. Wish someone had been around to do it (or even that the Internet was what it is now!) when I was parenting a baby. Your writing reminds me of good times & hard times & I’m so glad that all you mums can reach out to one another.
    Jeff sounds like an uptight jerk. Eff off, Jeff.

    • Thank you Stacey! That’s so nice of you to say. And yeah – Eff Off Jeff you turd. Ha!

  3. When we share our experiences, the good and the bad, we connect, learn and heal. I often feel the collective sigh of relief reading your posts that says “it’s not just me that feels like this”.

    I was fully expecting some plonker to read your entire post then complain about you oversharing, because there’s a troll for every occasion that that kind of troll is a fairly common garden variety. Despite this, it never fails to amaze me that there’s a bunch of people out there who take the time to read articles, and then complain that they had to deal with the information within. It’s like going to a cafe and ordering eggs on toast, then complaining loudly that you don’t like eggs and hate toast.

    • Haha I am so with you Leonie. I don’t understand at all why people are reading posts about parenting and then complaining about having read a post about parenting. Umm..don’t read it? But to be fair I very rarely get nasty comments here – there has been maybe ten or twenty out of millions of readers. I expect to get more at the Herald because…well…I just do. But I hope that the meanest ones are moderated out. Anyway! Thank you for reading and every time I get a comment like yours I feel less weird and lonely and weird so thank you for your nice comment. Nice comments make it all worth it!

  4. I loved this post. I’m not a parent, but finding a community online has been so great. Some I hang out with all the time now, and others have stayed online-online but i’ve made some outstanding friendships that I don’t know what i would do without.

    • Yep! I often forget that some of my closest and dearest friends are people I met “online”. You just so quickly forget that. They’re just friends, and you can’t imagine life without them!

  5. Jeff has never had to cluster feed a four week old with cracked and blistered nipples? How lucky for him.

    You get through these (literally and figuratively) painful parts of parenthood only with the help of others – whether they be in your house, your community, or your online community. I love that you share your experiences; they may not be my experiences, but knowing that other parents also “get it” is important when sanity is a whiff of a wish rather than a state of mind.

  6. “and in days gone by you just got on with it”

    whenever someone trots out a line like that, i tend to want to ask them to look up the infant mortality rate in those supposedly wonderful days. and the maternal mortality rate due to pregnancy and childbirth. then we can start to have the discussion about who’s doing it wrong.

    great piece, by the way 🙂

  7. If Jeff doesn’t want to read what you write surely he can just turn off his computer and walk away. Like putting down a crap book that you have no interest in. Jeff’s clearly an idiot.

  8. Keep over sharing! What else am I meant to do when I’m up for the umpteenth time in the night and desperately trying to stay awake while the toddler and baby play tag team game of ‘let’s make mummy incapable of doing her job tomorrow’. Everyone needs a little companionship, empathy and support in their lives, whether it is virtual or in the flesh. You’re far braver and honest than I can ever be. Keep writing, keep sharing.

    • I don’t feel brave! I get a huge amount from writing – probably more than anyone reading. I feel less lonely when I read “me too” comments! And I totally know that tag team game OH MY GOSH! Hope you get some sleep soon x

  9. A lot of parenting can feel quite isolating, especially if you come up against those parents who feign brilliance. You know the ones whose kids slept through the night from birth, who eat in regimented patterns even when nursing is on demand, the ones whose kids are never sick or naughty, who are never tired, who love every unicorn scented moment of parenting. Finding people online who are willing to admit that life at the coal face of parenting isn’t all rainbows and gumdrops helps cut through all the BS that can make an isolated parent feel inadequate.

    When I had my second son, I developed an anxiety variant on PND. None of my real life friends had either experienced it or would admit to experiencing it. It made me feel more inadequate and isolated. I found an online group of women to be willing to express things that made me feel less freakish, less defective. It was a huge weight off me just to see someone else type “me too” on a screen.

    Everyone can set their own boundaries for comfortable sharing. Just as we set our own comfort zone for physical space sharing in our real lives, so we can establish those limits online. I, for instance, write very honestly and openly about my experiences as an immigrant, about episodes in parenting and about my experience of bereavement following the stillbirth of my penultimate child. But I don’t reveal where exactly I live or name my children, that’s my privacy limit. I respect and understand and appreciate that other people set a different boundary. It’s personal choice, no right or wrong. And – especially online – if someone’s oversharing makes you feel uncomfortable then you can always close that window or scroll on past. No need to take offense.

    Thanks for a really interesting post.

    • I totally agree that everyone can and should set their own boundaries around sharing. I have set boundaries that are strict. There are some things I will never do that are quite common. But if I see those types of posts that I view as inappropriate or that make me feel uncomfortable, I do as you suggest – I scroll past! I don’t know how people have time to get so worked up!
      Anyway, all of those nasty comments don’t make it worth missing those me too moments. Thank you for your comment.

  10. Why is it that people seem to find it necessary to make nasty rude comments on a subject they know nothing about? I wish the internet and FB were around properly when my kids were small, I had no family and quite frankly, no frigging clue what I was doing and would have loved to have been able to “talk” to other Mums. Times have changed and the internet and FB are valid and useful tools (if used sensibly) to make friends and to find support when you are not able to call on family or friends because they are not around or just don’t understand.

    Ignore the Jeffs of this world and don’t stop telling your stories. Even though mine kids 15 & 18 I still love reading your blog and remembering what it was like (unenviable and amazing all at once).

  11. Hi – this really resonated with me, even though I am past the early parenting years and now am in the empty nest trying to figure out how to parent adults years. But I have these three “real life” friends who I have known for years who have Very Important Jobs in the UN or other worthy places who seem to glory in devaluing and invalidating every post. This makes my posts less genuine about when I am really, truly struggling with my depression, or my grief at the loss of a parent, which is what I really want to do so that my other Facebook friends can feel permission to share whatever event or thought, small or large, that impacted on them today, so that I can support them or know how to help them. And I think that it is really sad that the judgment and the derogatory comments have edited my sharing, which used to be such a necessary coping mechanism. So please, keep sharing and know that it is valued, those online relationships are valid and sometimes even more supportive than those in “real life”.

    • Thanks Andrea – and yes, I understand that feeling of having more support online than offline sometimes. I’ve been so lucky that my “online” friends have become my “offline” family. It’s special. Also, I’m sorry you’re struggling and I really hope it gets better and you get the support you deserve and need. Arohanui.

  12. Love this! There’s something pretty magical about it. When I started writing my blog, in the dark with my thumb on my phone I was reaching other women sitting in the dark on their phones too. Isolation sucks and community is still community, even if it is online. V flattered to have a mention. Oh and Jeff can just go and fuck himself. Please don’t read the comments, some really fucked up people engage on those comments sections. You are awesome x x x

  13. I love reading your posts, every one of them has resonated with me on some level – either letting me know that I’m not alone in my (wonderful/miserable/hilarious/messy) experiences as a new parent, or helping me to better understand what some of my friends have gone/are going through and so be a better support to them. But one of the other things I love about your blog is your (excellently worded) policy about deleting negative comments – in an age where everything that is posted online seems to elicit antagonistic and downright nasty responses from someone, this blog is a safe space where I can read the comments for extra laughs, advice or warm fuzzies, without fear of being dragged down by trolls. So thank you and keep up the awesome sharing!

    • Thank you so much Toni. That means so much. It really does. I found that I’d completely stopped reading mummy blogs and parenting articles because the comments were also. When Eddie was quite unwell I ended up quitting a lot of Facebook groups too – because I couldn’t handle the horribly cruelness. I’m not the most resilient person – I feel hurt when people attack me and my parenting even if it’s indirectly. My main aim when this place started to get heaps of traffic was to make it a safe place where people weren’t attacking each other. I’m really glad that’s working for you because it’s working for me!

  14. For me as a a first time mum at 41 and living quite a distance from my family and friends, these posts are wonderful to read. I seem to have lost my organisational abilities so getting out of the house at a specific time to go to the few mother and baby groups i know of can be tough. So to read about what you and your guest posters go through in their lives, both good and bad, makes me feel – well, better, grateful, inspired. Quite often i have laughed out loud, especially when you’ve written about stuff and I realise i have done and thought the same thing. So keep up the good work and bollocks to the haters!