Online mum chat often keeps me entertained during nap-trapped times. There are gripping, soap opera style arguments between mums trolling each other about which sleep training technique they have decided to use on their beloved bundle, mums showing off about what their baby can do that makes them so ‘advanced’ for an 8 week old, mums in desperate need of help and turning to the forums as a last resort in the hope they won’t be judged for it and even mums wanting to swap lego cards to help their kids complete a set. (I shit you not I read a whole thread about Lego swap cards. Don’t ask me why. At least a dozen local women were on the thread started by a lady asking if anyone had the elusive 133 in order that she could swap it for 91/122 or one of the other ‘rare’ cards. It was all very polite. I just found it hilarious to think that while their little darlings were tucked up in bed, mums were secretly online looking for swaps for them on the Lego black market). In my own boredom I thought I would round up some of the typical characters you might find on these time-wasting internet spaces.
The “I know everything to do with X because I have done XYZ and my own kid is perfect” mum:
Usually a first time mum. The mums with 2/3 kids probably either can’t be arsed with these forums or realise that all babies are different and noone has any answers because everyone is winging it. But this know-it-all mum does not believe that. Not only has she mastered ‘sleeping through the night’ but she’s also an expert on ‘baby-led weaning’ and is clearly a medical professional for all the health advice she gives. No matter what time of day it is, or where she is in the world (these forums tend to be worldwide) she is always at the top of the comments section on the thread ready to criticise whatever the poor, foolish mum who has asked a genuine bloody question has already tried/not tried.
Want to know if anyone else’s baby is still waking all night long? Be prepared for this bitch to come in with a “can they self-soothe?” NO (because they are a fucking baby of course they can’t bloody self-soothe, this is the stuff of mythical legend surely?) She responds with “Oh well sounds like you have a sleep association problem girl. You should try XYZ sleep training technique worked wonders for mine, she literally sleeps 24 hours a fucking day now, I never have to do anything with her ever again because I was so amazing at teaching her to sleep”. (Err babies don’t need teaching how to sleep – I’m calling BOLLOCKS on that one – they managed in utero just fine. They just might not want to sleep anywhere other than in your arms is all). And god forbid if she is pro Cry it Out (CIO) and you are anti or vice-versa. Because she will hit you up with research. Yes links to articles will be fired back and forth like there is no tomorrow. Don’t want to do CIO – “Well I’m curious what you think about how a lack of sleep can affect children’s development?” Mmmm hmm, finger clicking head tilted to side gif required here. Interested in trying CIO – “Well your baby will probably end up in prison as a result of you leaving him to cry for twenty minutes”. Or some equally ridiculous over-the-top remark. Because that is what this woman does. She scaremongers. If you choose to parent in a different way to her, she tells you how wrong it is all going to go for you and that your child will likely explode because you are doing mumming the wrong way. HER WAY is the RIGHT WAY and that is that. Truth of the matter is, she is probably so unbelievably insecure about her own parenting that she resorts to shitting on others to make herself feel better. She doesn’t actually know everything there is to know about any of this stuff. Because guess what, she’s just the same as the rest of us, making it up as she goes along, frantically googling questions and then crossing her fingers and hoping for the best. She just wouldn’t admit that.
The “my baby is so damn advanced I just want to show a whole forum full of strangers what they can do to make myself feel great and other mums feel shitty” mum:
This mum will likely post a picture of their baby (sometimes video) with some stupidly positive message like “Hey ladies I know everyone’s having a real crappy day so I just thought we should celebrate all the amazing things our babies are learning during this difficult developmental leap. Mine has been crawling since four months, is already potty trained and is reciting Shakespeare. What can y’alls (because they are invariably American) babies do?” Well gloating Gloria, mine can simultaneously eat and shit without breaking eye contact. In your face.
The “My baby is my priority and I don’t deserve to have my own life” mum:
These ones really fucking nark me. Mums on these forums are often struggling and in need of a break so may come across as angry, desperate or just really upset. They are vulnerable. This cunt (I’m sorry but it really is the only acceptable description) will make them feel a hundred times worse by making judgy passive aggressive remarks that may seem kind hearted on the surface but have an underlying theme of ‘you basically don’t love your child as much as I love mine’. Maybe a mum is looking for recommendations for somewhere to go for a bit of pampering with baby in tow – this nobhead may comment something like “a friend of mine went to this great place, a group of you can go and leave babies with the other girls while you get your nails/hair/eyebrows/vajazzle done, BUT (here it comes) I didn’t want to, because my baby is my priority so I just do my vajazzle myself” I get it. Some people are funny about leaving their baby with others. That is fine. Don’t make other people feel bad if they want to do it though. Once, at a baby massage group, a woman told me she wouldn’t even leave her baby with friends while she went into the next room in case there was a fire. And she said it proudly, like that made her a better mum than anyone else in the group. I mean seriously WTF? Like her friends would just leave the baby there to burn?! Everyone’s baby is their priority love. Get over yourself. We all love our children immeasurably. Just some of us understand the importance of ‘me time’ too. Even if that does just constitute taking a solo piss once a fortnight.
The “I’m desperate and I don’t know where else to turn” mum:
This mum could be any of us at some point. Her baby won’t eat/sleep/let her put them down for two fucking minutes while she wipes her arse. It has been like this for days/weeks/months/years. The simplest tasks take forever. Her partner is working away/does night shifts/is just a useless fucker/doesn’t exist. Her in-laws are mean/question her parenting choices/are just downright twats and refuse to acknowledge that she is their grandchild’s mother. She has no family nearby/mum friends/other friends that she can rely on/community support. She is rundown. She is burned out. She has nowhere to turn. She doesn’t know the answers. She is desperate. She posts to an online forum in the hope that some kind person out there will hear her plea and offer some words of comfort. And she is greeted by the know-it-all, the judgy mum or the mum whose kids are just so fucking fantastic that she ‘can’t relate’ because little Agatha has always put herself to sleep/drank all her milk/fed herself avocado sorbet/happily entertained herself painting masterpieces while mummy takes a dump. Seriously. This woman is a frustrated mess on the brink of banging her head against a brick wall (if she hasn’t already done so) and people don’t even care if they make her feel shittier because she is online. She’s not real to them. In all fairness, some mums do stop to post in mummy solidarity. They say she’s not alone and we’ve all been there and offer some sensible advice. But they should ALL do this. No one should be judging this mum because at some point or other everyone is likely to have a low point where they feel like they just don’t know what the fuck to do anymore. They may not post it to an online mum forum, sure, but they might do. And if they do they should be met with only understanding. If you see this mum online tell her she’s not alone. Ask if there is anyone in real life she can seek support from. Signpost to health visitors or baby groups if she’s a local mum or offer to meet up for a coffee and a chat. And if you see Bragging Bridget/ Up-herself Una/ Judgemental Judy then call them out on their bullshit. Give them a taste of their own trolling. Scumbags.
The other mums:
There are of course also a whole range of other mums in online groups. Mums who are just looking for a bit of additional reassurance that they’re not getting this parenting thing completely wrong. Mums who just want to read other people’s posts for a bit of entertainment. Mums who may have specific queries. Mums who just want to connect with other mums. On the whole these online forums are a great resource. But every so often you come across a complete bell end who just loves to make other mums feel shit. Well I reckon we start letting this mum know she’s chatting flannel. #bollocks to her stupid remarks I say. No other comeback necessary. Because bollocks is all that needs to be said. In the words of Paul McCartney, bollocks is all you need. Or something like that I think he said.