{Guest Post} Why we must hold hands online

on holding hands online2

I am really delighted to welcome Kate from A Playful Day to my blog today. We’ve been talking about our blogs and how we change and they change with us, that is, they do if we let them. I am going to let her take over from here, but please make her very welcome. 

Sometimes we talk ourselves into doing things because we know that we will be better for doing them. Sometimes we ask a friend to help us because we have something that we really want to do but just feel we can’t on our own.

That’s me right now, sitting slightly precariously on Emily’s page. I’m a mother. I’m a blogger. I’m a creative business owner and I am a champion tea drinker. I suspect many of these things make me just like you and I know they make me very similar to Emily. I’m fairly sure we struck up a friendship based on nearly all of these things (almost certainly the tea part). However, my footing feels shaky as I prepare this post for you and I’m finding it hard to find the words to explain why.

Let me track back a little and hopefully I’ll get there.

For many years now I’ve watched articles and campaigns aimed at being a better parent come and go. I was told I was doing sleep ALL wrong, making myself a slave to my child but then also not indulging her whenever she truly needed it. I can still remember my stunned reaction to one article explaining that I was simply not caring enough about her tantrums (oh dear writer, you have the patience of a saint is my only conclusion on THAT one). There have been many times that I’ve longed to join in the conversation but each time I came across these articles, I couldn’t help but feel that I was missing. Alongside the never ending queue of unmentioned fathers in campaigns like ‘National Unplugging Day’, I can’t help but notice that I’m not there either. Me, the single mum who doesn’t have half of these support systems you seem to think that I do.

As a blogger, I knew I had the right to respond, to make my voice known and to speak to other women (and fathers) who were solo parenting too. I could have written many responses to the National Unplugging Day about the fact that quite frankly, my iphone is the best second parent my child has ever had. My iphone tells me what to do when her temperature is too high and I’m scared of how very alone I am in that moment of crisis. My iphone reminds me to pick up milk on the way home because if I forget, I can’t pop out while she’s asleep and it will mean a tired schlep to the garage at dawn while she wails from the comfort of her sling. My iphone has also never forgotten Mother’s Day, ditched us for a weekend with its mates or expected me to have all the answers to why she is crying at 2am. Thus far it has also done a great job of connecting me to other mums and other people who understand my isolation and who check in at just the right moment with ‘hang in there girl, you’re going to be just fine’. When I’m texting at the park, that’s the solidarity moment that is otherwise completely missing in my single mother’s life.

So why didn’t I write? Why didn’t I rise up and ask the constant shaming of motherhood to stop? Honestly? I think I only really just discovered the answer in writing this. I’ve realised that I haven’t been feeling like I can convey the full experience of motherhood. I don’t have a great deal of time to reflect and I often feel that I’m really lacking the powerful insight that comes from raising a child as a team. Look at any blog written by a mother and you will see beautiful pictures of her and her children. She is able to pepper them through her narrative as she weaves her maternal identity online. Me? I don’t even have someone to hold the camera.

on holding hands online1

on holding hands online

So here I sit, precariously, waiting for my dear friend to press publish and tell the world what I couldn’t find the bravery to say on my own blog.

I’m here. I’m single and I really, really need to be online.

Tea anyone?

on holding hands online (2)

Kate’s online home is ‘A Playful Day’ where she blogs and podcasts about her quest to find a playful moment in every day. She regularly drinks gin and likes to knit. You can find her on Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest as aplayfulday. Kate would like it if you would send her cake after reading this. 

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20 thoughts on “{Guest Post} Why we must hold hands online

  1. What a lovely honest and interesting post. Thank you for sharing Kate. I am lucky that I don’t have to do this alone, and when Mr C goes away to work I marvel at how the single mums do this day in day out. I cannot imagine how hard that can be at times. And I hear you about the milk – in my case it means loading both kids in the car just before bedtime and dealing with the fall out from that 🙂

  2. Those blog posts by mothers that you describe, the ones with all the beautiful photos of her family – they make me feel uneasy and I’m not a single mum – I hadn’t fully realised how alienated a single mum might feel until I read your post.

    Hugs, missus x

  3. Lovely post! A Playful Day has held my hand virtually before to give me a little bravery boost. I would love these kinds of interactions in person, in real life. But I’ve been a bit isolated, though not as a single mum. Until recently I worked from home with long and odd hours for a start up in the U.S. So even getting to a knitting group has been hard. Making friends as an adult is hard. Making friends when you work from home is even harder. Finding friends online has been a huge help recently. I totally agree with the idea of unplugging, putting the phone down and being present when you’re in person with others. But the online connections- if you’re able to make them, can be hugely supportive and valuable. Thanks, Kate, for holding my hand!

  4. A truly heartfelt post, Kate and I’m so glad you had someone to hold your hand to say it. You are certainly not alone. (And if it is any consolation, a single-parent status isn’t the only thing to make a parent feel alone, but that’s a conversation for another time.)
    You are doing an awesome job. Keep the phone on hand. If you ever need any handholding, I’m there…in your phone…or on a train!) xxx

  5. I am grateful that you have a friend to hold your hand and help you write with strength and bravery. Your voice needs to be a part of the conversation.

  6. Kate, no one ever sees the full picture from what’s online. It’s always edited and presented best-foot-forward. I don’t think anyone is exempt from this. The good news is that there are people out there, both in person and online, who can inspire us when others’ carefully edited online personas are making us feel inadequate. You are one of those people for me. I’m sure you have messy days and don’t want a placating, “Oh, my goodness, how do you do it all!” so I won’t go there. But please do know that I appreciate what you do put out, whether it’s calls to creative action or things more personal, like this post. People are listening.

  7. This is a beautifully written post and one that really resonates with me. I’m not a single mum but I do often read things online and wonder where I fit into it all. I have no clear “parenting tribe” to be part of, I’m not glossy enough to be a *proper* lifestyle blogger and I’m not sweary enough to be an “keeping it real” mum blogger. Still, I genuinely think there is a place for us all online and room for ALL our voices. Thank you for sharing this, it’s a really brilliant post.

  8. Cake on its way through the ether! This is a beautiful post. I love your writing on your own online home, but I also admire your honesty in sharing something about other aspects of your life here. Everything you say is hugely valuable and beautifully put. You and the Tot make a wonderful family and although (like any family) you will have tough times, I know that like all families you also create so many amazing moments and you deserve to feel proud of that. H xx

  9. I can’t imagine having gone through the last 4 years as a parent without the online world for support, people who understand how hard it is having a child that doesn’t sleep but who are there at 6am to give you some support. Or just for company when you’re sat in a dark room under a sleeping child who won’t be put down.
    The danger of course of social media is things can look perfect, especially Instagram, we just have to remember that likely it’s not.

  10. What a brilliant, brave post. I’ve long struggled with the suggestion that online communities and friendships aren’t as rewarding as those found offline or that time spent online is somehow a ‘waste’. Growing up in a small town where single parenthood was to be whispered about, I can only imagine how isolated my own solo mum must have felt. The idea of not having a community – of any sort – to relate to is terrifying and how she managed to hold it all together and provide such a wonderful upbringing for me is something I’ll never quite grasp. The snippets you’ve shared from the Playful Tot leave me in no doubt that she will grow up to be the most astonishing person, thanks in no small part to the creativity and passions that you have shared with your communities. Friendship is the strongest bond, regardless of where we find it.

    1. I love what you say about the view that online friendship are seen to be a waste. My Dad can’t understand why I would spend time speaking to people I don’t know, when actually I do know them.

  11. Great post Kate! Motherhood is not easy, as the mom of a child with mental illness I have learned a lot about my own strength and the battle against stigma and judgement by other parents when my son isn’t coping well with life.

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