Brelfie – Am I missing something?

I’ve been resisting the urge to write about the #brelfie hype.  I just find the whole thing unneccsary and creating attention for people who strictly claim, “We’re not attention seekers!”  Ok, but half the nation is submitting to this hashtag demand so if that’s not what you want, then what’s the actual point? 

First of all, I’d like to say I’m completely pro-breastfeeding.  It absolutely is better than formula.  I’m pro public feeding but don’t see why it can’t be discreet or probably more accurately, don’t see why you’d want to be anything other than discreet?  We’re don’t parade our toddlers centre stage to eat in a restuarant saying, “Look! I’m normal, he’s normal!  We’re feeding normally!” 

I’m going to discuss some of the ‘reasons’ people have given for indulging in a #brelfie. 

1.  Normalise Breast Feeding.

Really?  Breastfeeding mothers are actually using this as a reason for a #brelfie.  So if you think it needs to be normalised then you’re implying that you don’t consider it to be normal.  It is normal.  My 8 year old nephew knows that it’s normal.  My rabbit knows it’s normal.  There’s not a person on the planet that considers the most natural thing in the world to be abnormal.  So if your reason for getting involved is ‘normalising’ you can rest now.  Everyone already knew how normal it is.   If on the off chance somebody out there does think breastfeeding is abnormal and vile, do you actually think a bunch of Facebook photos is going to change that?  If a new mother is unsure about breastfeeding is seeing a bunch of campaigners going to make her say, “Oh right ok I’ll breastfeed now!”  Nevermind all the other issues that cause uncertainty towards breastfeeding.  We don’t need to normalise normal things. 

2.  Raise Awareness.

Similar sort of thing again, we don’t need to raise awareness of something that everybody is aware of.  People don’t see a breastfeeding mother in a restaurant and think, “Crikey, what the hell is going on there?!”  They see a breastfeeding mother arguing with the manager and creating a scene and think, “My god what an attention seeker!”  We’re all aware of nature’s intention for breasts.  We don’t need to see social media rants to be aware.  How about you campaigners raise awareness for something that people are unaware of?  Like Count for Kicks campaign.  As a first time mom you really don’t know what normal movement is and panic at the slightest change or might not be aware of the slightest change.  Or the NSPCC and raise awareness of actual selfish mothers, not mothers you deem to be selfish for formula feeding!  Oh wait, if you campaign for a charity then the attention isn’t on you… But that’s ok because it’s not for attention… 

3.  Sticking up for Breasfeeding Mothers.

I don’t get this.  So many mothers just get on with breastfeeding and don’t post a single social media update.  They don’t need defending, the secure mothers are fully aware of the varying opinions surrounding breastfeeding but concentrate on the only opinion that matters… Theirs!  Who exactly are we sticking up for because the worst thing is, these saintly mothers are the first to attack somebody that has a different opinion.  Updating their status to attack formula feeding moms, calling people horrible names on public forums – people they’ve never met!  If you’re so lovely you wouldn’t be getting into arguments that require you to stick up for breastfeeding mothers. 

4.  To Capture the Moment.

The humblebraggers that claim they’re involved because quite simply, they just want to capture the moment.  That is nice and I capture many intimate moments with my baby but if that is the sole intention of a breast feeding photo then it doesn’t need to be shared with the world.  I do have moments that I choose to show off, I’m willing to admit that I indulge in the occassional image crafting humblebrag but I’ll be honest about it.  The whole world didn’t care that I took my sisters to New York, but I’ll still show off about it.  You can’t claim it’s a perfect intimate moment then completely shatter the intimacy by posting it to the whole world. 

5.  I’m Proud of Myself!

Here we go… My baby was premature, my baby wouldn’t latch, my baby had a tongue tie, I nearly died, I had a miscarriage.  (Three out of five of those reasons purposely apply to me so I’m not being nasty.) Yes it is awesome when your baby is born with a tongue tie and the midwife says he might not latch, then she comes back and says you’re a complete natural.  It is great when you come round from a near death experinece and there is nothing more magical than feeling your baby suckling away.  If you are posting for this reason, ok I kind of get it but does it have to be viral?  Does everyone need to see?  Or actually is it just you mom, best friend and partner that ‘like’ your picture because they actually care.  Why not just send a private group message? The people that don’t care don’t need to see. 

I know I always say, “If people choose to look…” Ultimately, we all have the choice to unfollow, block or not click the link. In this situation, I just don’t understand why you would want to give people the option to look. You don’t know who is looking! I personally wouldn’t mind my family seeing a brelfie but my boss? My ex? No thanks, I’d find it weird. 

I’m sure there are more reasons, if I’m missing the point please let me know.  This isn’t a criticism of breast feeding mothers it’s a ‘seriously, what is the point of #brelfies’ discussion? Somebody help me understand!  I’m not for or against brelfies, I just don’t get the campaign. 

I absolutely don’t think this is an argument against brelfies, “Some people can’t breastfeed so it makes them feel like a crap mom.”  First of all, we can’t consider everybody’s individual circumstance when we post anything online.  Somebody will object, that’s just diversity in the world.  Somebody will object to me writing this.  Secondly, breastfeeding doesn’t automatically make you a good mother.  We shouldn’t use breastfeeding as a scale of good.  Although it is perceived to be the ‘good’ thing, there is always a bigger picture!  Is a formula feeding mom with a tongue tied baby worse than a mom that breastfeeds whilst on drugs, pumping god knows what into the child? So, it’s just not a scale of goodness.

That brings me on to my final point, I think the sad truth behind a brelfie is that so many mothers are constantly seeking validation.  We live in a digital age where everything we do is under scrutiny.  Post an innocent photo of your family and somebody will comment, “Ooohhh I’d tuck those wires in if I were you!”  Post an update about weaning, “Ooohhh he’s a bit young isn’t he?” Everytime we post anything on social media we are seeking valiation, I’m doing it right now.  I want to validate myself as a good writer/blogger. When somebody agrees with me it will validate my belief that I have a point. 

Unfortunately it happens in motherhood too.  There is one person that I need validation from about my parenting skills.  My little Oliver.  If he is happy, then I’m a good mom.  If he grows up telling me he loves me, I’m a good mom.  I don’t need to validate my mothering skills by posting a brelfie with the subtext, “Look at me I’m a good mom, I’m doing the best thing for my baby.” And I think that is the real point behind a #brelfie. 



I think therefore I am…

…a good mother. Before I go onto the topics of this blog, I would like to apologise to the people that enjoy reading my blog because the last post had an angry tone compared to my usual chilled out approach. Unfortunately I was unnecessarily criticised and I had to catch somebody out to prove a point and it worked. So now back to discussing parenting.

Ok, so I’ve always been a deep thinker and I do like a poignant quote so my inspiration for this blog is, “Cogito ergo sum.” It is more commonly known as “I think therefore I am.” It basically means, if we are able to think about our existence then that in itself proves our existence. It has made me think about what makes a ‘good’ mother. And quite simply I think being good is down to the ability to think. I think, therefore I am a good mother. The type of parent that can think about how to parent or reads about parenting, the fact that they care enough to think about it makes them good.

I think this is particularly relevant when dealing with ‘naughty’ children. Having a naughty child doesn’t make you a bad parent and by thinking about how to deal with your naughty child, the very act of thinking shows that you care and are therefore good. I don’t like to refer to anyone as a ‘bad’ parent because there is always a bigger picture but make your own mind up about this and you might see my point about thinking.

I know of a father who was informed by child care professionals that his child had been swearing during his time at nursery. His response was, “what do you expect he lives in [insert run down area, careful not to offend anyone].” I think we can agree, no thought has gone into that response. A thinking parent would think, “where has he picked up those words?” “Was he angry or sad in nursery to use aggressive words or did he use it out of context?” And would therefore care about the attitude of their child and what they are picking up on.

As you can tell from my blogs, I think so much about parenting that I write and write and write and I’m right to do this because I can express my thoughts and make sense of them and help myself to make the right decision by thinking. If we do not think about our actions we will fail to make the right decisions. You can tell who the thinkers are because they rarely make spelling or grammar mistakes and rarely show unnecessary aggression. People that have incoherent status updates, instantly respond to a text with a nasty tone or shout/complain at an innocent shop assistant, these people are not thinkers! No thought has gone into their reply. They just fly off the handle.

When children are involved it is really helpful to think before you lash out because you are their role model and your decisions with affect their life. You are more likely to regret actions that you have put no thought into. There are some parents out there that might care so much that they read and read and read and I might be able to help some people make decisions and that is worth writing for. Some people suggested I remove my blog or make it private again after the nasty comments I had but I thought about it (obviously!) and thought there are hundreds of blogs, forums and websites dedicated to parenting and parents helping each other, why should I stop writing mine?

Writing a blog doesn’t make me a know it all but it does mean that I’m willing to express and share all that I know. When somebody says or implies that I think I know it all it makes me think of my nephews. Sometimes nephew 1 can be innocently getting on with a hobby that he enjoys, let’s say drawing. Nephew 1 is just minding his own business but nephew 2 will get mad and say, “Look at him! He thinks he’s cool!” To which I always say, “No, YOU think he’s cool! He hasn’t said a word, you’re simply describing him as cool.” It is just projection. It is exactly the same when people say, “she thinks she’s knows everything about babies after 2 months.” No, actually I’ve never claimed that have I? In fact I regularly say, this is only my opinion based on my experience. So for someone to read and have that thought, thank you! You’ve interpreted my writing to be very knowledgable after just two months and find it impressive. Just like nephew 2 thinks nephew 1 is cool.

Lately I’m seeing far too much interaction on social media where people are criticising parents. Not just me but just in general and I can’t decide what is worse, parents criticising parents (what kind of message are you giving your children by being childish, judging or bullying?) or non parents (what the hell? Parents aren’t experts on parenting so non parents certainly aren’t!) The thing is, being ‘good’ is down to how you interpret a situation. For example, you could say I’m a good mom because I’m back to work already and so I’ll be able to pay my bills on time and give Ollie security through his life. Or you could say I’ve abandoned him and fob him off to his nan on a Monday morning. It’s all down to the perceivers attitude. So next time you judge a parent, assess how much you’re actually judging yourself and showing your true colours. Ok, I agree there is some shocking parenting out there but just remember it’s only a snap shot. For example, I was in the Disney store the other day and I heard a mother say to her little girl, “Are you going to stop crying?” “No.” “Well go away then!” Snap judgement – terrible mother! Bigger picture – I don’t know what the hell has led to that exchange! So I’ll just concentrate on my own life. The little girl might be crying because she’s hungry, ok the mother is not meeting her child’s needs. What if she’s crying because she’s not allowed an Elsa doll because her mom bought her two last week? Then actually, not so bad! I say this time and time again, you will be much happier if you concentrate on your own life.

As a mother it is easy to doubt yourself sometimes because you want to do everything right for your babies. Remember, just by thinking about what you’re doing, you are caring and that makes you good! Don’t let anyone suggest otherwise. I read once that taking your child to a museum doesn’t make you good but the act of thinking about taking them and wanting them to learn makes you good. It is actually irrelevant where you go, it’s the quality time and thoughts that matter!

I’m often told that I think too much, to which I reply, “No, others do not think enough!”