In February 2016, Emily Writes and I started a monthly podcast called Dear Mamas. It’s a straight-talking parenting podcast in which we get together to catch up, commiserate and celebrate the highs and lows of life with small people. Our manifesto is no bullshit, no judgement, and we hope to build friendship, support and community. You can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or Stitcher, or listen on Emily’s blog. I’ll be posting transcripts of each episode here for anyone who’s unable to listen. Huge thanks are due to @styla73 for the transcript.
In this, our pilot episode, we catch up over a glass or two of pinot gris and have a wide-ranging conversation covering sleep, weaning, working, and everything in between.
Episode 1 transcript
(Music plays then dims…)
Holly Walker speaks over quiet music:
You’re listening to Dear Mamas, a straight-talking parenting podcast with Holly Walker and Emily Writes.
Each month, we catch up over coffee or wine, to celebrate, commiserate, laugh and maybe even cry about the highs and lows of life with small people.
Emily, is a writer and parenting blogger, whose blog EmilyWrites, is one of the most trafficked blog sites in New Zealand. She’s also the founder of the charity Ballet Is For Everyone, and Mum to two small boys.
I’m Holly, I’m a childrens advocate by day, and sometimes, a writer, reviewer and now, podcaster by night. I have a two year-old daughter. And I used to be an MP, but please don’t hold that against me!
In this, our pilot episode, Emily and I met in her lounge, over a glass or two of pinot gris, and had a wide-ranging conversation covering sleep, weaning, working, and everything in between.
It’s just us two, getting to know each other in this first episode, but in future we’ll discuss a parenting related topic each month and invite experts to join us. Thanks for listening.
(Music fades slowly)
Holly. So hi
Emily. Hi! First one, very exciting –
H: We’re sitting here in Emily’s lounge-
E: With wine!
H: …with wine which is very important. If we can’t have coffee, we can have wine.
H: This is only the second time we’ve actually met each other.
E: It is! How weird, I always feel like we’ve got that internet thing where we know each other because I read your blog –
H: And I read your blog!
H: And we’ve been friends on Twitter for a while
E: Yeah, that’s a very modern thing to say, isn’t it? “Uh well I read your blog!” –
H: That’s right, and um, yeah, now we finally get to meet –
E: yeah –
H: for the second time in person, and tonight what we thought what we’d do with the podcast is introduce ourselves a little bit, to each other –
E: yup –
H: and also to anybody else who might be listening. Do you want to go first?
E: Sure, well um… (sigh) where to start.. Um I guess.. I like to call myself a writer, but most people would call me a “Mummy Blogger” which is fine as well, I have nothing against the title, and I am a Mum who blogs, so, I think that’s probably an accurate description. Um..
H: And you’re writing though!
E: yeah –
H: That is writing …
E: It is writing, but I think there’s a weird thing where people don’t wanna call you a writer, they want to call you a blogger, and separate you out, and that is fine but also my background is in being a journalist and when I was made redundant which most journalists are eventually made redundant, I went into communications, and that’s my job job. But then I had kids! (Laughs) and that kind of throws the spanner into any kind of career –
H: and creativity as well –
E: and yeah, I mean it’s such a weird thing because nothing kills your career like having kids (both laugh) but it is in the same token, I found that having kids.. Mainly my second, I’ve just felt really creative and productive and actually like the most I’ve ever been. Since having my second… I wrote my first blog post when Ham my littlest one, I call him Ham because he looks like a ham (laughs) and he looks really delicious and pink –
H: delicious and pink!
E: yeah, but when Ham was four weeks old I wrote my first blog post and then, you know, that took off and so I just kept writing.
H: So just tell us a little bit about that, because I think you’re being a little bit modest when you say it took off (both laugh) it was like, one of the most read pieces on the internet in the world that week, it feels like…
E: Yeah it was bizarre, because you know like when you ha… when you’re in that like first, the baby has just been born and it doesn’t matter if it’s your fifth or your first or your fifth your hundredth or whatever, you have this thing where in the first month you’re stuck in this weird, like, you’re not really leaving the house, you’re trying to establish breastfeeding, or you’re trying to sort out giving them a bottle, or getting them to sleep or anything, I feel like, I’ve only had two, but I feel like it was the same both times you’re in this kind of strange –
H: you’re plunged into this strange reality –
E: strange world, yeah and you’ve got people visiting you, and some people who like, you never ever see except they come out of the woodwork when you have a baby, so you’re trying to be like a host, but you just want time with your baby, and everyone wants to hold your baby, and you’re just kind of like “I’ve waited nine months to meet them, like fuck off!” (laughter) but also like, your partner, you’re feeling all lovey and delicious about them but they can’t really do all that much, y’know? It’s such a weird time and I was feeling really overwhelmed at like, “how do I make sure Eddie, my oldest, is getting time?” while still –
H: How old was he when Ham was born?
E: He was two. No three? Oh no, he was two! (laughs)
H: (laughs) it was a hazy time
E: Yeah, it was a weird time, and um, I was like “I have to be great, the Mum he’s always had” but he was like “what is this thing that cries?” And so, y’know I wanted to be a great Mum to him, and really good with the baby, and all these things. But I found it just totally overwhelming and I think that most Mums, that first month is like, really overwhelming, and for me, writing in some way or another has always been a way for me to process how I’m feeling, and that first blog, “I’m grateful, now fuck off!” it was just that I had put on Facebook about this sort of, weird thing that when you know, you’re sleep deprived anyway when you have a newborn, but with your second, you also have the first one still getting up during the night! And I totally hadn’t… planned for that?
H: yeah, and they still want you –
E: – yeah yeah, and he was in our bed – and you know how you’re in this kind of, twilight zone at the beginning where you’re not getting any sleep anyway, so you often kind of often do stuff during the night? So I was like, ohh, came back from the bathroom and my oldest was across the bed, and then baby was… I’d just settled the baby and um, y’know, my husband was sleeping peacefully (laughs) and I just went “Oh fuck this!” and I grabbed my laptop and just wrote. And I thought.. Three friends will read this, and I actually had like, really good uterus planning with a couple of my girlfriends (laughter) so we were all on our second, almost at the same time –
H: at the same time – that’s amazing –
E: so I was like, “they’ll get this!” y’know they all have kids the same age, um, and so I was like, “I’ll just write it…” And I remember just going on Twitter and just saying “I had a rant you guys just like, this is ridiculous, here’s something I wrote at 4am” and I remember like, an hour later, a friend being like, “loved your post” and I was like “they’re not on Twitter? Huhh?”
H: – how had they seen it?
E: Then I kept getting these dings on my phone, but I was so busy with the kids, and they were the WordPress app, saying that it was going viral and I just didn’t really know much about WordPress or what it was doing –
H: Did you literally just set your blog up to write that first post?
E: Yeah! Yeah I just, had like, not theme or anything on it I don’t think, and it was under my old name and everything from a blog that was long dead. Then I went on Facebook and I started to see the picture of Eddie across the bed that I’d taken, like, everywhere!?
H: I remember it said something like “it’s my bed, why is there no room for me in it?”
E: Exactly! And then like, it was SO bizarre. It was everywhere… and my inbox was full of people going “you’ll love this chick and her kid’s named Eddie as well!”
And I was like.. okayyy! Coz I was anonymous and I try to still be kind of anonymous now, and I was just like “holy shit!” and I couldn’t even work out how to get into the stats in WordPress, coz I’m so like, NOT good with that stuff and then I finally got in there and it said it had had like, over a million hits or something, and I couldn’t keep up with comments, so I had to get friends to log in and help moderate, but I didn’t know how to make them moderators, I mean it was a really weird –
H: – and you had a four week old baby it must have been –
E: – I did –
H: – the most truly bizarre thing ever –
E: – It was so weird and I told my husband and he was like “the internet is really weird” (laughs) and then I was like “well, I’ll write something else, maybe they’ll like it?!” but still thought like, it’s a fluke, something about that post, I don’t know? And now it’s really weird because in March it will be a year, the blog will be a year old, and I’m still writing! And then like, it’s bizarre to think a year on I write for The Herald now, they approached me and now take stuff from the blog, and I just started writing for the Women’s Weekly, and just, you could never have told me.. And I really do credit it to having a second child, obviously coz, you know, blog content (no, I’m joking) (laughs) but that creativity, and I was really productive, like, it really inspires you, having children like, Ballet is for Everyone, setting up that and stuff, I just found that whole time and I still kind of do, it opened up something really in me that made me really creative and productive, and that’s really interesting from the perspective of, society doesn’t think that of women on parental leave..
H: No it’s not thought of as our most productive.. well.. it’s clearly a very productive time, literally, we’ve produced children (laughter) and um, I’ve often thought that raising a child is a very creative act in itself –
E: Yeah! –
H: and the way you have to talk to them and play with them, it feels to me like you’re doing improv theatre all the time (laughs)
E: (laughs) yes, that’s perfect…
H: but generally speaking it’s not thought of as a time that women are contributing the most to society in broad economic terms –
E: and that’s really bizarre to me because I feel that you’re so productive, often even though you’re not getting any sleep and things like that, and even on the days where you would consider that you’re not productive, because you’ve “just been at home with the children” –
H: You’re still getting a shitload done during the day
E: Yeah! And you’re multitasking, you’re answering a thousand questions at once, you know, it’s really interesting to me that that isn’t reflected. That often when you return to work, THAT’s when you’re contributing to society or something like that. And also, you know, you will go to work and get “so you’ve had your break” – y’know your time off…
H: because it’s a break…
E: Yeah I just that’s fascinating to me, because you also get this backlash of “if you’re doing these things, you’re doing too much, like, how can you possibly be being a good parent if you’re writing as well, or if you’re doing charity work or voluntary work and all that and I just think that’s really interesting because nobody says that about men who are working full time and then it’s just a given that they’re good fathers because –
H: are you giving enough attention to your children?
E: Yeah! Exactly and like, women that I see so much of, there’s all this work that sits underneath their work with the children, there’s remembering birthdays of all family members, buying gifts, remember that the kindy teacher, has… it’s her birthday, remembering all the names of the kindy teachers and there’s all this other work that kind of… making sure that there’s new shoes because they’re about to grow out of their shoes
H: keeping on top of that everyday stuff
E: sits underneath the millions of questions from your toddler, getting your toddler to eat, feeding your baby
H: getting them in and out of the house…
E: Exactly! Making sure when they grow out of their car seat or whatever, that the booster seat is ready and making sure that’s all to the guidelines and everything. All this stuff sits underneath and it’s barely recognised, ever.
H: I remember thinking when I first went back to back to work, when my daughter was 4 months old, that I would be much more productive at work, than I had ever been before because for one thing, I had a really strong motivator to get in and out as quickly as possible, at that time I was a member of parliament so getting in and out as quickly as possible was difficult and there were set hours I had to be there and all of that. But within that scope, the second that bell rang for that 6 o’clock dinner break for parliament, I was out the door. And I had everything ready and I was pumping in my breaks and the time that I did have to sit down at my desk and fire off emails or sit in a caucus meeting and make a contribution or whatever it was that I was doing at the time, I was so super-efficient, because A. had been honing those multitasking skills and B I had such a motivator to not spend any more time on a task that I needed to, that I think I actually became a more efficient employee as a result of that.
E: I mean, I have literally just in the last week or two fired off a blog post on this exact issue, and it’s that there is so much discrimination facing mothers in the workplace, there’s this idea that y’know they come late, leave early, y’know, their kids are always sick so they’re not in the office, it’s not hard to find somebody who will say “Oh I have to pick up the slack for working mothers in the office” and y’know I returned to work with Eddie, when he was four months old, and it was, I just, it was really incredibly difficult, but also all of the things like chatting in the café, or y’know in between desks and all that, I never did any of that shit, because I could muck around because I had to pump at a certain time and then y’know all those even things like pumping, so efficient, like I had all of my sterilizer, my things, I had photos of Eddie to try and make pumping faster, (laughing) all those things… it got to the point where I would take my laptop in when I pumped anyway and I had a double pump with a hands-free thing that I bought off trade me so I could work while I pumped, and you actually end up never taking a break at all because you’re eating at your desk, y’know, and I find it interesting that you see all these Mums, people must see all these Mums going off and pumping at work, or eating at their desk, or head down busy and then racing out the door, but the perception somewhere, why are they not seeing that contribution? And I have to think that it always comes down to just… there seems to be a devaluing of motherhood everywhere and that’s a really interesting thing to combat, because yeah I don’t understand how every working Mum that I’ve seen or talked to was the same thing – really efficient at work because you had to set times to do things and you only have those hours to get them done and you didn’t want to take work home because that was your time with your children, but inevitably, you did, I think that whole time when I returned to work with Eddie, there was barely any time that I didn’t pull out my laptop in the evening as soon as he was in bed.
E: I felt like I did a lot more hours than I did before I had him, because I also had that motivator of you want to do really good at your job so you can get a payrise, further career options and all that so you can give your child every opportunity but you also have this thing of “I don’t want them to think that I’m not working hard” –
H: and you want to prove that there isn’t this… stereotype
E: Yeah, you want to prove that you’re not the stereotype but I’ve never actually met the stereotype, so… (laughter)
E: Yeah, it’s a really interesting thing and I think the difference this time, not going back to work in the same way I did the first time, having this buffer of writing and everything, it’s been really different and interesting because I’ve still had that creative thing of work, and that writing in that way is still work, I have a deadline and everything like that, but I wouldn’t write if I didn’t have to, so I’m lucky in that I still only write because I want to write but it is a really different dynamic this time around. I’m still trying to work out, even a year on, how different it is, still trying process.. But going back at four months was incredibly hard and I didn’t feel like I had a lot of allies in that, I felt really alone in going back to work that early, and wanting to prove to myself and everybody else, it was really high pressure time.
H: That’s something that we clearly have in common, having both done that with our children at around the same age, and um, I mean for me, what I basically learned from trying to do that, and trying to do that in a job that was kind of ridiculous to try to do that in, as a member of Parliament, was that I couldn’t do it actually….
H: and I lasted about six months and then made the decision not to stand for another term in parliament because partly because during that time, my partner who had been looking after Esther, my daughter, while I worked, got sick and developed chronic pain from an underlying neuromuscular condition that he has, which was probably caused by lifting a baby. And actually, he just physically could no longer care for her. But that was the catalyst for me stepping down, but actually I think being able to reflect on it for a while now, even if that hadn’t happened, I probably would have had to come to that same decision anyway, um, despite the fact that I was extra productive in that time after I went back to work and despite the fact that I was desperately eager to prove that it is possible to not only return to work with a child that age and have a father at home caring, and y’know, show that parenting can be split evenly between the genders and all of that, but also that it was possible to have a woman in parliament with a baby, and that parliament could be truly representative of parents with young children as well as everybody else. And, y’know and I felt that mantle of having something to prove very strongly. And so it felt a little bit as though I had “failed” in quote marks when I had to step down, but actually, there were a whole lot of things that were totally unrealistic about that situation –
H: and y’know were beginning to take quite a serious toll on not only my partner’s health, but on my health actually.
E: Yeah, yeah, I think that what’s really y’know it feels so black and white so much of the time, like when I look back on my time with Eddie, returning to work, I really felt like, I’m a feminist I have to show that you can… and I had so many people horrified that I was going back to work at four months, and my husband as well, was stay at home dad so it felt like people wanted to see us fail
E: like, I loved that one of the comments I got was “won’t he get bored?” (laughter) which I just have to say as an aside, that cracked me up! Like, um of course ladies don’t get asked, because our tiny lady brains don’t get bored!
H: and like, when a man does it it’s like, boring menial work, and when a man does it it’s like her like, ultimate calling as a human on the planet! (laughing)
E: haha you’re going to give me the hiccups! But what I think is really interesting, is that looking back on it, I don’t know how to class it, because in one sense I would say that I failed, in that, in that there were times I literally ran across the road and cried behind the church because I was so overwhelmed and times that I felt like I “I’m the worst mother in the world” and I mean, Eddie had a chronic illness, he had three surgeries before he was one and it was a terrible time, and part of me looks back on that and thinks “I was a total fucking mess” but also, um, I was super productive and was really on to it and achieved so much shit! And you know, I think it’s this kind of desire to want to put things into success or failure and I don’t know why we want to do that. But it feels like it’s almost like a societal pressure to say “you can’t do it” or “you can do it”, or “you can have it all” or “you can’t have it all” and there’s no grey area which is just… you know what? This is just every other fucking part of parenting that some days it’s amazing and some days it fucking sucks!
H: and every day you’re making decisions, and compromises and trade-offs and prioritising certain things and that’s life
E: exactly and all in all it’s incredible, but life… it’s still life! There’s nobody else, it’s only when you put… add kids into the equation that we insist on you making sure that you always acknowledge and cherish every moment and you have to be grateful and all of those things…
H: coming right back to that first post that you wrote
E: yeah it is, and it’s because you can’t just say “hey this is life” and some days are fucking terrible and some months are, and some days, you know, you have to have, you put kids into it and people insist you have to have come out with some message or some learning or you have to have this like, the “higher calling” for women and stuff like that, you can’t just say “at that stage in my life, I want to go back because I did want to go back, and I had to go back because I HAD to go back”, you know, this whole is it a choice or isn’t it a choice? It was both. It wasn’t a choice, and it was a choice, and um, you know, I did all of that and there were times when I was in the hospital all night, and losing my mind and then I went to work each day and a lot of people were like, this is horrific, but for me, I got to not feel like I was about to lose everything important to me for a couple of hours. That means something doesn’t it? Like, everyone wants to simplify things when it comes to parenting, like You’re a good mum or you’re a bad mum.
H: and the so-called mummy wars where people are supposedly all the time, and I do see this happen, you know, people are casting judgement on each other or their parenting decision knowing very little about the complexities of that person’s reality
Yeah, it’s like there’s like no space for the complexity anywhere. Whether you’re a working mum, inside or outside the home, because frankly all mums are working mum! It’s such a ridiculous term. But you know, whether you’re working outside the home so you have to put on that suit every day or put on the uniform or y’know go out and be standing all day in retail or food service or sitting at a desk or whatever your job is and then coming home and having to do like, never having that break. And then a lot of mums at home with their kids are not having a break either, y’know, so I just feel like there’s this – it’s really unfair on women, that we never get to have complexity around it and it’s just forced thing of “did you have a choice or not? What’s your choice we have to know so that we can judge you properly.” And then “did you fail or succeed at this choice, because it has to have been a choice.” There’s no, kind of “well actually I succeeded and I failed and I did all these things all in the space of an hour sometimes, or days..” I look back on that time and, for a lot of reasons it was the most difficult time of my life, with Eddie’s surgeries and having a child so ill and then going to work and then there were times I felt like I had to pretend to be someone else at work and that was really hard, but then there were other times I really willingly embraced being somebody else other than the Mum who was terrified that she’s going to lose her child. This idea that nobody would, that you can’t give a mum, allow her to say… There were judgements, I know there were judgements of “how could you leave your child at hospital to WORK?” you know – something as frivolous as working and earning money –
H: – earning money to pay for your home and family’s livelihoods
E: exactly! I mean “well wouldn’t you make him work?” coz this is your little social experiment of being a feminist never that, actually he is a equal parent to me and wants to and needs to be at home and is really good for Eddie for different reasons than I am. But it’s a snap judgement, of “I have to be able to draw a conclusion about your circumstances, I can’t just say –
H: and I think people often see…. what they see in someone else’s circumstances is a reflection of themselves or um I think people see other people’s parenting circumstances as some kind of judgement of their own? Which it never is, right? People aren’t doing things TO each other when they make choices about what’s right for them and their families, but sometimes when those choice have been really hard or when you’re not feeling certain about them and you see somebody else doing it differently you can’t help but feel like it’s an implicit judgement on yourself and your own parenting and I think sometimes think that’s what’s going on when people are so quick to comment or even attack…
E: Absolutely, and because they have that societal pressure on them because this whole Mummy Wars thing I think so much of it is down to, you know, media, or advertising, all the misogyny in general around this idea that because if you’re like at home and having done both gone straight back to work or stay at home longer, it doesn’t matter what you do you get shit because you get “when are you going back to work?” “Oh so you’re not working” “Oh so your husband doesn’t get to be at home this time.” And all this stuff and um, when you’re, I mean the most hilarious thing, I don’t know if you got this, but when I went back my first day back it all this stuff like “who’s looking after the baby?” and I used to joke like “oh, he’s under the desk” or “I left a bowl of water out” but you know, it doesn’t seem to matter what choice you make, you’re getting shit. So if you’re not sure, if you’re like “maybe I should go back to work because I’m not being recognised as contributing to my family even though I’m doing this fucken huge thing and my husband wouldn’t be able to do what he’s doing, or my partner wouldn’t be able to do what they’re doing with their career if I was not at home, but, “am I contributing?” I mean the whole question of “Am I contributing when I’m at home?” that HAS to be from on an outside influence because mother’s know how much shit they’re doing –
E: like there’s no way that’s not an outside influence.
H: Yip. And found myself if people didn’t ask me where who was taking care of my daughter I would often feel like one of the first things I had to say to them in a conversation was where she was
E: oh my gosh that’s so true
H: either to justify “don’t worry it’s a family member taking care of her, she’s not in day care yet”
E: that’s so true
H: yeah and once she was in day care, “oh she’s only there three days a week so it’s a really good mix she’s not there fulltime”
E: yeah! oh my gosh!
H: I don’t even know if they were even interested but I felt as though I had to tell them that.
E: Y’know that’s so fascinating because I did the same almost straight away, I think I even did even in talking about it right now, very quickly saying “my husband” – and you know what’s bizarre about that? If a mother said to me she went back at four months and her child was in day-care full time I would just be like “your choice for your family” you know? Like, no judgement. I hope you’re handling work, because I’ve returned at the same time but my view wouldn’t make any difference if her child had been in daycare, but I still felt like I had to say it
H: to justify it
E: and I can see how that would, if your child was in day care full-time, if somebody very quickly says “oh but they’re not in day care full-time” of course that’s going to feel like a judgement, I would feel judged. But I always said, and it was because I didn’t want to be judged! And the way you’re going to be judged because SO many people think men are far too incompetent to look after children (laughs)
(laughs) and aren’t they good? Aren’t they SO GOOD?
E: Aren’t they SO GOOD? They’re just so good. haha
H: Well I think it’s probably true that we have both have very good partners
E: We do, but oh my gosh, they’re not like… there’s just this idea that they’re curing cancer every single day by –
H: just by looking after their children!
E: and you know that Natural Dad “he’s such a natural dad because he changes nappies like a natural” and I mean, like, I joke so much with my friend Dan about this, because he’s y’know a lovely dad, and any time a dad posts a picture of their kid, or does anything, looks in their child’s general direction… “Natural Dad!” “You’re just a natural!” And I just think oh, like I mean, I’m weaning at the moment, and my husband’s amazing, there’s lots of Mr B fans and for the right reasons, he’s a great guy, but I’m weaning at the moment, so it means he’s putting the baby to bed each night and laying with the baby every night until the baby goes to sleep, and I often staying with the baby, and there’s all this “oh, that’s amazing! He’s amazing! Oh my gosh! Doesn’t the sun shine out his ass!” and it’s like ok I did that for a year and literally nobody ever said shit about it –
H: Nobody ever said “you’re so amazing” in fact they probably thought “oh you’re not still feeding your baby to sleep, are you?”
E: And if you laying with them you’re spoiling you because they’re one and they’re manipulating you – all I ever got was having to justify being down in the bedroom and “oh you’re not feeding them to sleep, you may as well be giving them crack cocaine” (laughter.) But he does a couple of nights and it’s like “oh my gosh what a fucken hero” he’s a DAD and I’m exhausted and he’s wonderful and I love him but oh my gosh there’s just this thing of “oh he changed a nappy where does he pick up his Pulitzer peace prize or something…?” For fucks sake we’ve got to stop losing our shit over dads doing basic stuff we really do! And “oh you’re so lucky. You’re soooo lucky to have a husband who’s a Dad, who had children with you and acknowledges their presence like, y’know, I just, he is an amazing dad and a stay at home dad at that, and there are so many qualities about him and I’m justifying it again! But really it’s like, people don’t know that he’s incredible with the way he plays with the boys like sits down and can play trains with them for an hour, which I can never do but, all of his qualities and strengths they don’t know that, it’s just that he changes the nappies so he’s a hero.
H: They’re saying something true, he’s an amazing dad but they’re basing it on the wrong information
E: exactly and that you know, it’s like, the big um, thing about the single dad story in the paper, that there was the big drama about that, about this dad who is probably great dad, I’m not saying he isn’t or anything like that, but it’s just this thing of “where’s the mum can we not acknowledge her for like a minute before we absolutely lose our minds our minds about the dads can we not just say… “
H: How many other young mothers who may or may not have a partner to support them are doing an amazing job of raising their babies, but the story in the paper is not “young mothers do amazing jobs”
E: Yeah, exactly it’s all that there’s so much, so quick to judge mums, and I don’t want to, clearly I don’t want to live in a society where we judge dads the way that we judge mums because that would be horrible if both parents were getting it, but I do find it really interesting going through that weaning process and having people say to me “oh it’s incredible what he’s doing” when like, I don’t expect praise but I’ve literally been doing the same thing for a year with like, only, unsolicited advice and y’know “are you really doing that?” And I mean, it’s like I mentioned my friend Dan before, but well before he had his baby I put Eddie in the front pack and had him wear it and I said, “you just see how many smiles you get” and he was cracking up coz we were walking around the waterfront and I mean, people look at dads
H: they stare at them
E: it’s the most dreamy gaze (sighs) “oh you’re carrying a baby” and women do it and it’s like “why are you still carrying your baby?” (laughter)
E: Put them in a pram or make them walk! If you put them in a pram and then you can make them walk, and it’s really fascinating it goes back to that thing around judgement and how it’s a near, constant thing.
H: Yeah, and sometimes it’s really happening and sometimes and you just feel like it’s happening
H: but either way that feeling that can really impact on your spirit as a parent quite negatively so what we’re hoping to do with a podcast like this is have a really honest open frank space where there is no judgement –
H: for us or any of our listeners and where it’s actually ok to talk about and this is what your blog does as well, Emily, it’s ok to frankly talk about the realities of parenting while acknowledging all of the wonderful things like how incredible our children are and how much they literally do light up our lives AND how wonderful our partners and support people and wider family networks and people who are involved in our children’s lives, but it’s still fucking hard and complicated and there isn’t a single narrative that represents the experience.
E: Yeah absolutely and I hope that’s what we can achieve with the podcast and keep trying to do is to really show that complexity that this isn’t a black and white thing, that you don’t have to have yeah, this one dominant feeling/narrative/whatever you think you’re not succeeding or failing or winning or losing or anything that we will allow ourselves to have these complex experience, and learn as we go and change our minds about things and
H: Change our minds, make mistakes
H: Learn from them but also just acknowledge most of the time we’re doing a really good job.
E: Yeah, absolutely! Absolutely. Cheers to that!
H: Cheers to that!
Music starts to play
H: Let’s clink our glasses!
H: Dear Mamas is produced and presented by us, Holly Walker and Emily Writes, in our lounge dining room respectively. We’re really grateful for the generous support and encouragement of our Twitter community. We’ll be back with more next month, in the meantime, hang in there, you’re doing great!