Au­thor and blog­ger Emily Writes on par­ent­ing

Little Treasures - - CON­TENTS -

Kiwi blog­ger Emily Writes is mak­ing a name for her­self in the stay-at-home-mum cir­cuit. She’s hon­est, she’s raw, she’s fun, she’s tired, she’s, well, a mum. Her blog, Mama Said, turned her into an overnight in­ter­net sen­sa­tion af­ter a post called “**** off, I’m grate­ful” – aimed at peo­ple telling her to rel­ish the early years of par­ent­hood – re­ceived more than one mil­lion hits. Many of her blogs since then have been just as con­tro­ver­sial – if not more – but they seem to strike a chord with mums world­wide.

Hav­ing re­cently pub­lished a book, Rants in the Dark, she talks to us about mak­ing sense of her new­found fame, find­ing the time to write and her ev­ery­day life as a mum.

The ‘hon­esty move­ment’ re­ally seems to have taken off in the par­ent­ing sphere re­cently. Why do you think that is? I think mothers have started to see the power of shar­ing ex­pe­ri­ences. We see how other peo­ple par­ent and we see that there are so many dif­fer­ent ways to be a mother. Be­ing a good mum is lov­ing your chil­dren. It’s keep­ing them safe. It’s try­ing ev­ery day to do your best and ac­cept­ing that it’s okay to some­times not be at your best. My hope is that talk­ing hon­estly about our ex­pe­ri­ences shows us that it’s okay that we all have dif­fer­ent ap­proaches to par­ent­ing – but we’re all the same in lov­ing our chil­dren.

The early years of moth­er­hood is a tir­ing and of­ten stress­ful time. Where did you find the time and en­ergy to write a book? I don’t know re­ally. Writ­ing helps me un­der­stand how I’m feel­ing so it doesn’t feel like work. I write at 4am be­cause that’s when I feel lonely – writ­ing con­nects me with other mothers and that con­nec­tion is life-sav­ing. Writ­ing hum­bles me. It makes me re­alise my story is just one tiny story in a world of dif­fer­ent sto­ries. Rants in the Dark is lit­tle slices of life, so I just pulled to­gether all of the lit­tle things that I thought might make mums feel less alone or feel stronger or feel solidarity. I feel a big re­spon­si­bil­ity to be care­ful about the words I put out into the world so even though I write in bursts, I al­ways go back and make sure what I said won’t hurt any­one or won’t be taken the wrong way. Par­ent­ing is so hard, I don’t want my words to make any­thing harder. It’s about be­ing a friend in the dark. So much of me­dia these days is about what mothers are do­ing wrong. I’m try­ing to work against that.

What have been your most pop­u­lar par­ent­ing blog posts? My most pop­u­lar posts are about sleep. I think be­cause, while we talk a lot about sleep, it’s in a re­ally com­pet­i­tive way. From the day our ba­bies are born we’re asked, “Are they sleep­ing through?” Mothers of six-week-old ba­bies are be­ing told they need sleep con­sul­tants. The mea­sure of suc­cess in par­ent­ing ba­bies has some­how be­come how many hours in a row they sleep. I don’t know how we got here but I think it’s aw­ful.

My ba­bies don’t sleep, and I’ve learned over the last four years that sleep­ing is like walk­ing – you can get soft shoes, en­cour­age them, make a clear space for them on soft car­pet and coax them to come to you – but ul­ti­mately, no child is go­ing to walk un­til they’re able to. Sleep is the same. Some ba­bies sleep early, some don’t. It’s no mea­sure of the type of par­ent you are. And it makes me so sad that mothers feel so bul­lied about sleep. I def­i­nitely did – and all of my posts about sleep are just me ex­press­ing that – the frus­tra­tion, the sad­ness, the hope, the de­spair, and even the lit­tle joys that you find in amongst it, like night-time cud­dles and kisses. It’s also a no-judge­ment, no-ad­vice ap­proach be­cause no ad­vice truly works – if there was a sin­gle way to get kids to sleep, we’d all be do­ing it. I’m just an exhausted mum reach­ing out to exhausted mums.

How do you deal with un­so­licited par­ent­ing ad­vice? I bitch about them on my blog! No, re­ally I try to re­mem­ber they’re just try­ing to help. But I find un­so­licited ad­vice very dif­fi­cult be­cause most of the time par­ents are just try­ing to con­nect with oth­ers or just vent, yet when they do ev­ery man and his dog jumps in with, “Have you tried this? You need to do this!” It’s like as soon as you open your mouth you’re told what you’re do­ing wrong and they as­sume you haven’t heard this ex­act crap piece of ad­vice 800 mil­lion times. Like they’re the first per­son to say, “Have you tried a swad­dle/dummy/ baby­wear­ing?” Of course I have!

As a par­ent, what do you strug­gle with the most? How lonely it can feel some­times. The best thing about do­ing this work is that I meet so many mothers who re­mind me that I’m not alone in feel­ing lost some­times. I’m not alone in not know­ing the an­swers, in feel­ing like I’m not a good mum some days. Mother­ing can be so very iso­lat­ing and there’s so much pres­sure to do it right. You love your baby more than any­thing. You know it’s the most im­por­tant job ever – you want them to be happy and safe and you want to pro­tect them and do ev­ery­thing right. And it’s so im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that you’re not alone, that other mums are go­ing through the same thing.

What do you love the most about be­ing a par­ent? Be­com­ing a mother has been the best, most won­der­ful, awe-in­spir­ing thing I’ve ever done. I love my chil­dren so much. I have to pinch my­self daily be­cause I can’t be­lieve how lucky I am to have two such beau­ti­ful, hi­lar­i­ous, clever, to­tally de­light­ful lit­tle sausages. Even when I’m tired to my bones and feel like I can’t take an­other step, or I’m cry­ing in the shower or think­ing it’s all too hard – I look at my kids and think, ‘How am I so blessed to have these two?’ Even when they poo in the shower, I’m like awww come here and give me a cud­dle.

You founded a char­ity, Bal­let is for Ev­ery­one. What is it and how did you come up with it? My baby boy had a dif­fi­cult start to life. He had a se­ri­ous res­pi­ra­tory con­di­tion that re­quired a lot of surgery and treat­ment. He once caught a cold and his tra­chea col­lapsed and he al­most died. So we couldn’t let him do classes be­cause it was too risky. Play­dates were very care­ful – ev­ery­one had to be fully im­mu­nised, no snot, no tummy bugs, lots of hand sani­tiser. I met other par­ents with med­i­cally frag­ile kids and I wanted a class for them. I had a look at bal­let classes but most were so ex­pen­sive – to­tally out of reach for low in­come fam­i­lies like us. Also, many would let girls wear tu­tus but not boys. So I re­alised we needed free bal­let classes, that were safe for all kids, where kids could wear what­ever they wanted. So I wrote a post and Sarah Wood came on board. She’s amaz­ing – an ex-bal­let dancer. She re­ally made it hap­pen. We fundraised, got tu­tus and bal­let shoes do­nated, and some vol­un­teer teach­ers. We’ve been run­ning ev­ery Sun­day for about a year and a half now. I don’t do much. It’s all Sarah and Louise Har­ris, they teach ev­ery week­end – they’re lit­eral saints. It’s a beau­ti­ful com­mu­nity. 


Emily Writes’ frank take on moth­er­hood is the stuff of her new book, Rants in the Dark.

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