M.S your not just taking her your breaking me.

What do you do when life drowns you? I blog as a kind of therapy. I write about motherhood & my journey as a mum of 4. Yes motherhood overwhelms me and scares me and I worry I’m not getting it right. But ultimately motherhood empowers me and motivates me to be a better me. And writing about it and sharing it with other parents is something I love to do; it lifts me up and inspires me. I’m not drowning in motherhood, right now motherhood is what’s keeping me afloat. I’m drowning in life. My mum has Multiple sclerosis. She has had it for 25 years, in the last 10 years it changed from remit & regression to secondary progressive. I don’t write about it. Because I don’t really no how. It doesn’t inspire me, it breaks me.

I’m well aware that by sharing experiences of illness and disability you can raise awareness and understanding of the condition. It can help others suffering to feel less alone in their struggles. But I still don’t know how to share it with people. For a long time I never told people my mum was ill. Even as an adult; I would make friends with other mums and talk about my mum, I would simply leave out her illness. Not because I was or am embarrassed, never that. But because I wanted them to have a true picture of my mum. When you describe a person as being in a wheelchair people have preconceived ideas of what that person will be like. We shouldn’t have but we do! And that’s not my mum she’s not a disabled person in a wheelchair. She’s a former beautiful wild child. She was an amazing nurse, a strong, spunky woman. The mum who made me the most incredible birthday cakes and spent £300 on 2 kittens we hid from my dad for a week. The first & only source of advice I wanted when I became a mum.

M.S is stealing her from us, from me. I don’t want to watch her slip away. I don’t want to sit here & see her unable to hold her cup or feed herself. I want my mum back………..

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Side by Side We Stand.

Exactly one year ago, on International Women’s Day I published my first ever blog (I have linked this in the comments below if you wish to have a read). In it I discussed the concept of blogging and how it can inspire us as women but also place expectations upon us. As this was my first ever blog my perspective on blogging was situated firmly as an outsider. So after a year what have I learned? Well firstly I have to be honest I haven’t been blogging for a year, I have dipped in and out of it and only in the last few months have I actually dedicated myself to blogging regularly. Part of my blogging journey has understandably involved social media; Facebook is where I share parts of my life online with I’ll refer to them as my ‘real-life friends’ and I have found using Instagram has connected me with new ‘virtual-realm friends’. I have been able to connect with other female bloggers, most of whom are mothers; some new to blogging like me and others more established well-known bloggers. When I read my first blog post back what strikes me now is that I don’t once mention the women behind the blogs; the real women behind the words or the Instagram pictures. It didn’t once occur to me that I would have a true connection with these women, who I would share experiences with. Women who I would empathise with, gain support from, while being encouraged and inspired by.

Yet that is precisely what has happened; I have started to build up relationships through social media with other women. I recently contacted a number of established bloggers to ask them to contribute to a blog post I wished to write (watch this space it’s coming!!). Now when I sent out the email I honestly had no idea if I would get any responses. Because when you think about it these women don’t know me, they are insanely busy running successful blogs, working, oh and that little chestnut motherhood!! But I did!! I got a lot of responses, these amazing women took the time not only to email me back with the information I had asked for but also to offer me support and encouragement as a new blogger. And that was it right there, the part of blogging that I hadn’t thought about, the part of blogging which hadn’t once occurred to me when I first started and wrote my first blog post. Other female bloggers supporting and encouraging me!!

This isn’t really about blogging; this is about women, blogs and social media are simply the platform that connects these women together. Women being inspired and motivated by one-another, learning from one-another and most importantly supporting one-another. We live in a patriarchal society, there’s no denying it, a significant pay gap between men and women still exists (according to the government stats it currently stands at 18% https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-gender-pay-gap). You are still more likely to see a man in the most senior positions within businesses and our political environment is still a male dominated arena. The only way this is going to change is if we as women support one another and celebrate the success of strong women around us. So often it can seem like society pits women against one another, forcing us to compete. But the truth is there isn’t a limited amount of space for women to be successful in. One woman achieving something that you want to achieve shouldn’t be viewed as her taking your spot, she isn’t, she’s pushing open that narrow gap for women which exists and making it wider.

An Instagram post I saw shared recently said “Real Queens fix each other’s Crowns” (@thefmlystore) How bloody awesome is that? And so true!! Let’s support one-another ladies. Be inspired, be supported and show each other the love. Whether it’s in a workplace or at the school gates that successful, badass women you’re in awe of, she’s your ally not your competition. Side by side, together we can elevate one another and make sure those crowns stay straight and sparkling.

Happy International Women’s Day you amazing woman.

Charlie

 

 

Writing a Blog?

So deep breath and here goes….a blog! Blogging and vlogging appear to have given women an instrument which allows their voices to be heard, their opinions to be expressed and their knowledge to be shared. Something surely to be celebrated and rejoiced in, particularly by women themselves. There are huge numbers of blogs on fitness, health, style, beauty, interiors and motherhood. You want ideas, motivation or inspiration? You can find it and follow it. Easy!! A quick google search will unveil a multitude of glossy blogs filled with pictures of women living seemingly perfect lives. Beautiful hair and make-up is accompanied by impossibly chic outfits, and positioned inside stunning homes with their immaculate grey and white interiors. Alongside them are often beautiful children living out their charmed childhood of wooden toys, cultural excursions and wanderlust travels. As a reader we follow these blogs and want to emulate these women, we aspire to be more like them, to ascertain a little bit of that perfection for our own lives. Presumably in the belief that it will make us happier. Is this a bad thing? Maybe it will make you happier. Feeling inspired and motivated to eat a little healthier or workout more because of a health and fitness blog you follow is surely a positive thing. I would like to think that most blog writers are genuinely driven by the desire to motivate others; to share their own passion and knowledge on a subject for the benefit of their readers. So when does motivation and aspiration cross the line into expectation and pressure?
Can we just ignore the pressures on women in modern day society? Can we ignore the constant bombardment of images of perfection, which women are expected to adhere to? Or the consequences when we don’t? It seems like with so many things in the history of femininity this powerful instrument has been somewhat corrupted by these ideas and images of perfection. Femininity has been infused with ideals of beauty and image. With the constant presence of social media within our lives these images and ideas of how women should look, dress, keep their homes and raise their children have manifested themselves in our everyday existence. Women are bombarded by society’s expectations of what they should look like, act like and accomplish. There is a fine line between being inspired to do something and feeling compelled to do it. That is not to say that that we should stop trying to be the best versions of ourselves we can be. Nor should we try to change ourselves if we do fit into what society has determined the ideal and desirable type. Ultimately we are influenced by our society, by our families and our friends, by what we do, read and watch. But the things we surround ourselves with should empower us, lift us up and have a positive influence on our lives. It should not make us feel inadequate or devalue our self-worth. Does social media and blogging add to the pressure on women? In my opinion yes it definitely can do. We need to stop searching for this perfect ideal. In my experience as a woman and a mother, it simply doesn’t exist.
We need to find the strength to set our own expectations within our own lives. Aspiration is not a bad thing. Looking in the mirror and feeling good about yourself, feeling attractive and confident is a great thing. And if that is the result of another women’s blog then how fantastic, let’s celebrate that. The question is not; are blogs positive or negative? The question is where do your goals and expectations for yourself and your own life come from? Stop and ask yourself if you are aspiring to be the woman you want to be or the women you are expected to be. I am not going to preach about changing society. But I will suggest that we change our own response, something within all our power. Taking control of the ways in which we chose to respond to the expectations we feel is a powerful tool and one all women can support one another in. We can appreciate a woman’s skills, knowledge, beauty and abilities without feeling compelled to imitate her form of perfection. So let’s take responsibility as women to prevent a great tool from being used to dis-empower each other, as both bloggers and readers. Let’s utilise our ability to empower each other and importantly ourselves.
Strong women appear in many forms.