I was born in the ’80s and became a mum at age 30. My uni days were spent learning the ropes of a new thing called “The Facebook” and pairing Ugg boots with just about everything in my closet. By the time I met and married my husband, I was on track to become a new species of woman mocked endlessly on the web and tsk-tsk’ed by the generation above. I didn’t realise how permeating my new role would be as I stood in front of the mirror taking those #bumpselfies to document my pregnancy. But, by the time I underwent the C-Section society told me to be ashamed of and brought the baby home to a bumper-free cot, it hit me: I was a Millennial Mum.
To be honest, I feel quite appreciative to be raising my baby (and hopefully, at least one future sibling of hers) in this time and place. I have constant access to much more information than my mum and her friends did, and we’ve got the technology to document every precious little moment. But in addition to the joys and comfort of motherhood in the modern day, there are so many obnoxious stereotypes we get blasted with, and they’re just wrong. These, in my opinion, are the worst ones. Which ones bother you the most?
1. We are self-involved. I get it, okay? There are a lot of selfies out there of mamas with (and without) their kids. And yes, we live in a day and age now where mental health is becoming de-stigmatised and it’s okay to admit to others when we aren’t feeling too hot emotionally. But it totally drives me crazy when millennial mums get accused of focusing too much on our inner struggles or outward successes. We’re people too, and we have the right to discuss our anxieties and celebrate the good things we accomplish. This doesn’t mean we don’t care about other people; in fact, I’d say it gives us even more empathy for those around us.
2. We spend all day on our phones. There is almost always a mobile phone in my hand, handbag or nappy bag. This is absolutely true. It doesn’t mean that I am constantly looking at it, though. Millennial mums find ourselves in a very interesting moment. Many of us have found ways to work from home or tweak our family budgets to stay home with the kids, and those who work outside the home definitely need access to their childcare providers and kids. I’m not sorry that I spend 15-minute blocks of time here and there throughout the day, catching up on my emails so that I am free to spend more time with my daughter. I also don’t think it’s fair to judge a mum who’s scrolling her social media feeds after a long day of work and finally getting the kids to sleep. Whether the phone is being used for work, social activity or to snap a few pics of the kids, I say back off. You don’t know what’s going on unless you’re living it.
3. We’re all out to get each other. This one really boils my blood. There are certainly a lot of strong opinions out there on breast vs. bottle, co-sleeping vs. separate rooms, home school vs. private or public, how much screen time is too much, and so on. But despite the bickering cropping up in mothers’ groups and the hideous strings of comments on some of our favourite blogs, most of the mums I know in real life do not do this to each other. We might share helpful bits of information and feel a swell of relief upon finding out we’re not the only ones to experience a certain terrible milestone with the kids, but we don’t compete with each other and we don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings. If anything, I think we feel freer than ever to share with each other, and I know that my mum friends always have my back. And sometimes, the next round of coffees.
4. We put our kids before everything, all the time. The trends in parenting have shifted a lot throughout history, and we’ve come a long way from the old adage, “Children should be seen and not heard.” But just because millennial mums tend to be pretty darn vocal about our endless, unconditional, passionate love for our children, does not mean we don’t have lives outside of them. I might post a photo of my daughter on Instagram with the caption, “My everything,” but my real everything also includes my awesome husband, my own parents and my right to yoga, dark chocolate and shoes. I just happen to love my kid. Like, a lot.
5. We pile on too many activities for the kids. I haven’t quite reached this one with my toddler yet, but the pressure is already coming from family members not to load her up with too much stuff. If we have a play date one day I’m expected to stay home and focus on numbers practise the next. There always seems to be a worry that music class, plus dance, plus sports when they get older is leaving kids stressed out and making them less “good” at the things they love. But most of the mums I know with school-aged kids really listen to their littles, and check-in frequently to keep a handle on things. I learned from my own mum that listening to your children is the best line of defence against anxiety, and I won’t do things any differently than she did in that regard, just because I’m raising my daughter in a different time.
6. We’re fake. Because I have a blog and much of our personal life is out there on social media, I’m constantly criticised for how I portray motherhood. But even more private millennial mums are spoken about this way, too. I think it’s a matter of selecting what you focus on when sharing with the public; I share the photos that make me happy, and I’m personally happiest when I’ve had the time to clean my home and my toddler is not trying to brush the dog’s fur with a baby fork. It doesn’t mean these things don’t happen in my home. And so what if my neighbour wants to straighten her hair and put some blush on before running errands during the one time she actually manages to escape her home that week? I say post a selfie, girl. Focusing on the positive is not the same thing as claiming your life is perfect.
7. We overshare on social media. Speaking of all those selfies, this assumption about millennial mums is the worst. I respect the fact that many people do not understand the need to document and share all of life’s moments on social media. But those of us with children who do choose to share should be able to do so without an issue. We might be putting our lives out there for family, friends and followers, but there is no limit to what constitutes “normal” or “over.” A big part of what I love about being a mum today is seeing the children of my old friends and colleagues grow up right in the palm of my hand. We may have years and miles between us, but these shares are what draw us together. I’m not ashamed for a minute of what I post on social media about my daughter; if you don’t like it, just un-follow. #girlbye
More mums confess:
- I Refuse to Apologise for Being ‘Attached’ to My Daughter
- Why We Parent the Wrong Way, According to Our Mums
- 24 Things I’ll Never Say in Front of My Daughter