I am not your enemy – why is motherhood a battle?

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I have a four month old son. I am a mother.

This post may be somewhat contentious, it is not my intention but nonetheless it may be. The reason being? I am writing about motherhood and little did I know until four months ago what a minefield that is.

Pre motherhood I was oblivious and I am glad, I came into this arena wholly unprepared for the battle it would be.

Many of you think I am talking about the trial and tribulations of raising a child, the lack of sleep, the nappies, the concerns over health, development, growth etc… I am not. I am talking about other mothers.

Before I begin, l must stress that if you are a mother – I salute you. You are amazing, you do great and wonderful things every single day and you are doing an awesome job and I mean it sincerely.

I want to tell you something though…

I am not your enemy.

When I walk through the door of a play group, baby group, coffee shop, church or shop, I am not there to compete with you. I am not there to make you feel inadequate, I am not there for you to measure yourself against and feel smug about because you feel you are better.

I am like you.

I am learning as I go along. I had to drag myself into the shower this morning and make attempts to look presentable so that I could leave the house. I am afraid of making mistakes, of being too grumpy, too much, too little, over-involved, under involved.

I take a while to re engage in the world of adult conversation at times and so I may seem stand offish but I don’t mean it. I just need those extra five minutes to warm up. You know exactly what I am talking about.

My natural conversation topics are now baby related. So when I talk about my son’s sleeping habits it isn’t an attempt to seem as though I have a perfect child and have it all together but simply an attempt at opening a conversation and finding a common ground.

Can I ask why as mothers we look at each other with such suspicion? Why if your child is older than mine do you not deem me worth speaking to? Why do we often like to put each other down or be scathing about the little things we celebrate?

Can I ask you what you love about being a mother? Can I ask you why you don’t talk to me about that? Why don’t you tell me about all the things I have to look forward to rather than running down what I enjoy.

I am not your enemy.

If you breast feed, formula feed, have a strict routine, go with flow, bath your child every night, bath them every few days, stay at home, go to work, post selfies, keep your photos private, are part of an NCT group or not, have a child who is under a year or over a year old…

I am like you.

We are all mothers – why make it a battle?

We are called to love…

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Have read a lot of Adrian Plass recently. Completely compelling writing, tongue in cheek at times but also quite pointed. Has made me think a lot about Christianity and church.

‘The Church’ to the outside world is often viewed as a place full of pious, out of touch people who closet themselves away on a Sunday, sing hymns and feel that they are superior to everyone else.
TV does little to dispel this myth. Have seen a couple of dramas recently where the Christian character comes across as a ‘weirdo’. One of the most high profile churches in the media is Westboro Baptist known for their messages of hatred.

Church in reality is very different. I tweeted on Sunday that I had really enjoyed church because it felt like family. Now when we consider the word family, we think of different generations, personalities, characters etc who all get together and spend time together because they are related. For me, church is the same, I spend time with people of different ages to me. I love the fact that my friends would not be considered my peer group. I have learnt so much and been really supported by having friends of different ages. This is something that is often missed out on.

Also, like family there are times you fall out, people get on your nerves and it can be strained but ultimately what unites us is so much stronger than that. There is a shared mutual love and support and an inbuilt support system when things are tough.

Sometimes we get things wrong and that is because we are all broken, messy people. We don’t have it all together but we do have each other and recognise that we are better together than we are apart.

It is not an exclusive club it is an inclusive club.

Sadly, many people will not set foot in a church because of misconception, because of the message that has often been heard, because of silence when there should have been words.

Ultimately we are called to love and we all need to get that little bit better at doing just that.

Hiding from silence

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When was the last time that you experienced silence? I mean, no talking, no TV, no Internet, no phone -no noise? Maybe when you were asleep? Did you check your phone the moment you woke up?

Sounds ridiculous when it is said out loud, how much time we spend surrounded by noise.

We watch films instead of reading books, we send tweets instead of having a conversation, we write a blog rather than a diary. Convenience, the need to be occupied, the idea of a 24/7 society.

There are of course positives of this, being able to communicate with people on the other side of the world, being more aware of situations in other countries, being able to share resources to name but a few.

What about the negatives? What about the relationships that are being eroded in real life because we invest so much time online? What about the fact we spend more time staring at a screen than looking at someone during a face to face conversation.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you cannot develop meaningful friendships online but should they involve the a sacrifice of ¬†relationships with family and friends?

I honestly can’t remember the last time I had a phone conversation that was longer than about ten minutes. Text messages have become the norm – they are quicker, faster, more convenient.

I am currently on holiday, miles away from home. Taking a break from the busyness, the noise.
Yes, I am still using social media, yes I am still blogging but, I am having longer periods of quiet, of silence. Going for walks, sitting and looking at scenery. Listening to the wind blow leaves from the trees, watching the sunlight catch across the windowpane.

Moments without noise. I have also been reading books, in silence, without the television or radio on as accompaniment as is my usual habit. This habit grew out of finding silence scary.

At a recent conference I went to #CNMAC12 @digitalnun said that ‘Silence can be scary but it can also be healing.’

This concept really stuck with me and made me honestly think and question how much time I spent hiding from silence in noise and why I was hiding from it?

For me, it was fear. Fear of silence. The inability to be still. The frightening concept of being alone with my thoughts.

The thing is, if we are never alone with our thoughts then we begin to lose an essential part of who we are. We begin to fill ourselves full of the noise, ideas and opinions that are all around us and fail to take the time to develop our own. We lose our sense of creativity. We lose the essence of us.

Silence can be healing, it can be the opportunity to get back to who we really are, to remove all the additions, to remove all the distractions and just to be. To sit with our thoughts.

Are you hiding from the silence?