I’ve overdosed on ideas in the last few days. I didn’t know it was possible but apparently, it is. I’ve devoured books, newspaper articles, twitter, blogs, and essays, and watched TED talks. All inspiring, all thought provoking. So I am full to the brim with new ideas. And with old ideas, put together in a new way. I love to be inspired. I love it when my thoughts are provoked. I love the conversations that so often follow this kind of immersion.
And what I’ve concluded, and what all this input is telling me, is that there has never been a better time to be a mother. Truly. Not because we’ve all got it so good, or because we’ve all got so much. Not that. And not because it’s being made particularly easy for us, or because as a tribe we’ve got it all worked out, and we know what works and what doesn’t. Not for any of those reasons. But because we are engaged in working this stuff out. Out loud. And together. In our toddler groups and at the school gates and in the huge, crazy, noisy online conversation on twitter, facebook and the blogosphere. As Samantha Kurtzman-Counter said in her thought provoking piece last week (well worth a read) “The Web has revolutionized motherhood by creating a virtual community that not only witnesses but testifies”.
We are puzzling out loud. We are talking, sharing, formulating our thoughts through our words, our art, our status updates and our tweets. We are putting it out there. We are sharing it with each other. We are building communities amongst ourselves. Yes, there’s a lot of disagreement, and sometimes there’s outright hostility. But that, I think, is simply a noisy expression of our collective fear, uncertainty and doubt. If you look closely enough, we are also falling over ourselves to support each other. To hold a hand when it needs to be held, to encourage, share and empathise. We are rolling our sleeves up and getting involved. Not passively. Not indifferently. But with passion, and commitment, and with a determined glint in our eyes.
It’s exciting. It’s completely democratic. We can all dig in. We can all put our thoughts out there. I can, and I am. And no one gave me permission. No one chose me. And no one chose most of the millions of others who are doing the same thing. But we all know it matters. And there’s a platform we are claiming and making damn good use of. We’re doing it because we care. Because it matters. Because it keeps us sane. Because we can. We are allowing ourselves to be seen, naming the hard bits, shining a light in the eyes of our struggles and daring them to break us, daring others to judge, to say that they don’t struggle sometimes too. Putting it into words and putting it out there. We are being brave so others can be brave too. It rocks. It’s important. It’s happening everywhere once you start looking.
And my recent idea binge has clarified something about my small part in all of this. Which is to testify. To comfort and to encourage. To say, like so many others: You are not alone. Not a bit. You are in company. Your struggle is shared, recognised and heard. I know. Not necessarily your story. But I know, because I am a mother and I am human. Because you are human. Because we’re all human. I know because I, like you, have looked into the eyes of many, many others.
My life and my story has brought me into contact with those at the very top of their game and those right at the bottom of the heap. I have seen and heard the stories of people who have achieved greatness and those who have committed unimaginable horrors against others. And what I’ve learnt, what I’ve seen in all those eyes, is that we are all human. We all hurt. We all struggle. The way we process that, the way we behave in the face of our struggle varies hugely – some respond with cruelty, others hurt themselves instead of others. But the hurt is the same. The confusion. The bewilderment, fear and moments of panic. That’s all of ours. That’s mine. That’s theirs. That’s yours. That’s human.
And I want to reassure. I want you to know that it’s ok. It’s ok not to always be ok. It’s ok to feel lost and alone. Parenting or not. Really. We all feel it. We all experience it, however together (or not) we may appear. That’s what I want you to know. That’s why I’m willing to put myself out on a limb and say it. To risk you shrugging and walking away because what I say is not for you.
Being a mother is tough. Mothers are people, and being a person is tough. And I get that. And I’m with you. So are others. You are not alone.