Whatever happened to ‘be kind’?

Today I had a run-in which left me in tears and wondering whether I should just give up. Someone had taken offence to a post I had shared on Facebook regarding the Chancellor’s words to mothers during the pandemic and they decided to use it as an opportunity tell me everything that they felt I was doing wrong. It’s not the first time that it has happened, but it never gets any easier.

It started as a comment about how ‘most mothers enjoy spending time with their children no matter the circumstances’ and spiralled from there. Eventually, it turned out that they feel I am selfish for having a career, lazy for enjoying the time when my children are at school, a bad mother for finding it a challenge to support the remote learning of 5 children in 5 different year groups and generally a terrible wife for not being solely a housewife. At one point my decision to even have children at all was criticised!

The worst part about all of these comments? They came from another woman!

As a mother, I think we can all be our own worst critics. We are constantly doubting our abilities and comparing ourselves against others. There is always the nagging feeling that we should be doing better. So, when someone criticises and gives voice to those thoughts which we keep carefully hidden, it’s devastating. We think to ourselves that if someone else says it then it must be true. Especially if that criticism is coming from another mother.

But, the truth is that women are horrible to one another. The comments made behind backs in the playground, the ‘forgotten’ invitations to children’s parties, mildly judgemental comments over social media or, in this case, an outright attack.

It took me a little while, and almost an entire box of tissues, to process what had been said but then I started to realise that it didn’t matter. The person who made the comments isn’t me or my husband or my children. They don’t live my life or see what I do or know why I do it. They don’t matter.

I love my children more than anything in the universe and would do anything for them. But, we are currently in the middle of a national lockdown. I am juggling homeschooling, housework and working while my husband has to go out to work as his job can’t be done remotely. I am allowed to feel frustrated and overwhelmed. That does not make me a bad mother. I work because it helps to provide for my family and because it makes me happy. If I am happy then I am a better person to be around and therefore a better mummy. Working does not make me a bad mother.

It’s not that long ago that the world was filled with the message to ‘be kind’. People were urged to look out for one another. For a little while, the world was a kinder and more supportive place. Right here, right now, in the middle of a global pandemic, a little kindness could go a very long way.

One last thought for the individual with the unwelcome opinion: thank you. Your judgement and cruel words inspired this blog, so you are inadvertently helping me to continue the career which you feel I am so incredibly selfish for having.

whatever happened to be kind

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