Sunday, 1 April 2012

Without "obvious" pain, can I still comment?

Yesterday Twitter alerted me to a feature in the Guardian that really caught my attention. It was written by a writer I really admire (not in a stalker-type-admire-way I haste to add), Bibi Lynch, and came with a warning that mother's may well be offended. I was quite nervous before reading the piece as a)I am a mother and b) I really enjoy reading Ms Lynch's work (not a stalker I assure you) and didn't want her to offend me.

Safe to say, I was not offended in the slightest! Hooray, I can carry on being a non-stalker-type fan and go about my business for the day. Except I couldn't, because I felt great pain on behalf of Ms Lynch and the feature, as well as the subsequent backlash, has haunted me all weekend. This leads me to here, my blog.

I have been waiting for a chance to write a response to the feature since yesterday morning. Having now got my chance I started doing some research on the feedback regarding the article. Holy cr*p people, cut the woman some slack, she can't have children! Imagine that? Can you, as a Mother, imagine that? I can't. Also, to the women reviewers who don't have children, cut the mother's some slack! We all moan, moaning is a very personal thing and we can only do it with what we know best. Ourselves. And our lot in life.

Plenty of people have taken to the 'net to provide sympathy, give moral support, express outrage and hurl abuse towards Lynch and the feature. Having trolled through a large chunk of them, I started to wonder what I could contribute? I have a child, so will never truly know the depths of her pain. I have a standard issue child*, so cannot fully know the pains of raising one with difficulties or any other defects. Plus, I didn't suffer from anything other than a scratch across the belly, sore breasts and severe tiredness after giving birth, so am out of that camp too.

So, what am I doing here then and why was I not offended? I am possibly a prime candidate to be offended:- we have a mom and dad in our family. A loud, yet adorable toddler. Dad works. Mom stays at home with said toddler. We do "family stuff", I do non-mom fun stuff, we go on family holidays and sometimes dad cooks. Bonus. I wasn't offended because the article calls for us mom's to count our blessings. And I do. Every night and throughout the day, particularly for my little girl and my family. Also, whilst reading the piece, I didn't see it as being about me for one minute. I didn't feel the need to defend my grumblings as all I could see was the pain at not being able to have children.

As to what I am doing here, commenting on the feature, I wanted to say this: firstly, the feature was published in a newspaper. Newspapers need readers and internet hits. Headlines sell papers and draw traffic to a website. It needs to be hard hitting and get a response - good or bad. Secondly, the feature was a very honest, emotional and personal piece based on one aspect of one woman's journey. Read between the lines, this lady is in pain. Following Ms Lynch on Twitter and reading any of her work from her Grazia columns, you will quickly see that she doesn't throw things at mothers in the street, she doesn't avoid children in public places and in fact knows people with children!

Lastly, she is a writer. A review of her work is one thing, a point of view from either side is another thing, but abuse is a whole other game and really, no one should be playing on that team.

*although my baby girl is standard issue, I obviously think she is perfect and the best in every possible way! Being her mother and all.


  1. I also read the piece and was expecting to be offended, but wasn't. What I came away with was the feeling that, actually, it was a really sad piece. Parts of it were incredibly bitter, but Bibi Lynch held her hands up and said she was 100% jealous. She completely put everything out there and on the line. And yes, you're right, in terms of journalism it was very provocative, which meant she did her job. It garnered opinion, web hits and buzz on Twitter. What any Editor would want really.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting Molly, sad feature and I really felt compelled to blog about it as both sides of the fence were heartily slinging abuse at the other. I wanted to be able to point out a few basics journalistic facts and stand up for the "middle women". I.e. the "I love you all so join me for a glass for wine" type. x

  2. Hey Suz (enjoying your blog BTW!,
    I've just had a read of the article. Interesting reading and I have to say I did agree with a lot of what she had to say.
    Yes I do sympathise with mothers. One weekend of looking after a friend's son and I thought I'd gone to hell and back! It's a tiring job, no doubt about it. I'm sure those of us without children would like to think it's all shopping and going for lunch but I know that's not the case.
    However, what does stick in my throat is the attitude of the mothers who treat those of us without children as though we're some sort of weird species. I can't count how many times I've gone to a party/event/whatever where I've been the only person who "hasn't produced" and have had to face the "look" from the other women as they say "oh, you don't have children? Really" and then it's obvious they have nothing to say to you as you're not part of their "club". It's normally around this point I hear myself going "I've got a dog! I've got a dog!" Yeah I have. And a job. And a life. And friends. And...hold the front page...maternal instincts. "I'm not a leper!", I want to shout.
    Last year I went to a BBQ at a neighbour's house. At the BBQ was a new neighbour who was training to be a midwife. She asked me if I had children. Then she asked me how old I was. Bloody hell! I don't tell anyone that! "Stage age or real age?" I laughed through gritted teeth. When I told her my real age, this bloody woman had the audacity to say to me that I better get a move on. Better get my finger out (I must have missed that sex ed class!, if I wanted children. At no point did she ask me if I wanted them or, indeed, could actually have them.
    There are faults on both sides with this subject. Those of us without children need to stop thinking mothers have an easy ride, but at the same time those with children need to give the rest of us a break. I may not have produced another human being but I've achieved a hell of a lot instead...and my dog thinks I'm great! :)

  3. Thanks for taking the time to comment and read the blog. I am always sad to hear of mothers or people in the "birthing" profession giving people without kids a hard time. I think it gives us nice, normal mothers a bad name! I really don't understand why society separates women into two camps - namely mothers or non-mothers? Whilst I love my daughter to bits and wouldn't have it any other way, I fully appreciate that some women cannot or don't want to have children. I really don't see this as a problem and don't think we should be judging people on their paternal choices. As for asking a women her age!?!? This should never be done! x