by LEE SANDWITH
Before I became a mother I felt compelled to somehow disassociate myself from any involvement of being like other mothers – or those mothers, as some of my friends referred to them.
“Lee, if you become one of those mums who starts a ‘mummy blog’ that goes on and on about being a mum or uses every form of social media to share stories about their kid’s poo I will never speak to you again!” one childless friend threatened me, apparently teasingly.
“And don’t even think about becoming one of those mothers who parks their pram in the middle of cafes either,” stressed another kid free wanderer.
“Oh I won’t!” I assured them confidently as though the worst thing I could become was an actual mother.
This idea of motherhood and children being viewed as annoying was driven home early on when, at dinner with friends a few months before our baby was born, one of our dining companions asked if we could talk about something else as he grew tired of all the talk about babies. I was beginning to feel guilty about being a mother before I had actually had a child!
The truth is that I didn’t truly comprehend the realities of life as a mother until I was actually drowning in the day to day drudgery of life with a newborn. I felt ashamed to speak out about my experiences as a new mother because I had actively participated in the collective scorn the childless sometimes direct towards the breeding masses. This former contempt I held was something I deeply regretted as I had accidently become one of those mothers; the ones that pushed their pram into cafes with a screeching being tucked up inside it and posted photos of their baby on the internet.
The negative sentiment towards mothers and children was something that I was experiencing not only in my local coffee shop but on public transport as well. A recent family outing on a train drew glares of disgust from fellow passengers as my baby daughter let out various squeals and cries as life whizzed by outside of the train window. It seems that the transport experience for many people is so incredibly marred by the presence of small humans that Malaysian Airlines have put a ban on babies in their first class cabins. Even Ryanair were considering offering childfree flights due to an increased number of passenger complaints about the noise of babies.
With a growing trend of people who are child-free by choice, there seems to be more opportunities to openly rail against parents and children.
My Facebook feed is often clogged with people protesting that the sight and sound of children in public places irritates them, or how if they have to suffer the torture of viewing yet another image of a child on their feed they will surely commit homicidal murder.
It seems that it isn’t just some of my own intolerant Zuckerbook friends who find the sight of infants on their computer screens a pest. A new Chrome extension called Unbaby.me will remedy the problem of hideous images of small people appearing on your Facebook feed and replace them with images of bacon, cats or “awesome stuff” as Unbaby.me promotes. “Now you won’t have to look at your friends’ annoying kids anymore”, we’re told.
Even mothers who enjoy talking about their children and their parental experiences are not being taken seriously. When women do become mothers, they learn very early on that discussing their experience publicly may lead to at best a sort of dismissive scoffing, and at worst an all round assault on their intelligence and ability to contribute positively to society. ‘Mummy blogs’ in particular have become universally detested, even though some of their content is relatively innocuous. Hating parents and children on the internet, and mothers who blog in particular it seems, is encouraged.