Many of have a bit of a vent about something during the average day. Someone has annoyed us, been rude to us, the train was late or a car cut us up at a junction.
Many of us will have a moan about our family, including our children. Parenting, especially of young children, is fraught with challenges. Lack of sleep, fussy eating, tantrums, squabbling siblings, and a range of other misdemeanours.
Having a vent can be cathartic, helping you shrug off your troubles and move on. Many of us use social media and our blogs to have these vents.
I sometimes feel a pang in my chest when I read other parents’ vents of parenting frustrations, but it usually washes over me. I get it. I would probably have been doing the same, if circumstances had been different.
My son Hugo proved himself to be a wilful little boy during the 35 days of his life, even though he was ventilated and in an incubator. He was so determined to get what he wanted, when he wanted it his nurses gave him the well-earned nickname ‘Hugo Boss’.
During our neonatal stay, I prayed I would be able to bring my baby home. I was even looking forward to having my work cut out for me being mummy to such a determined little boy.
I have no doubt Hugo would have continued to demand what he wanted, when he wanted it and there would have been many tantrums when he didn’t get his way.
Hugo would probably have had developmental issues due to his extreme prematurity, which would have required endless amounts of patience.
In this alternative universe, for all my gratitude at Hugo having survived I would still be human. Sooner or later, my patience would doubtless have been tested and I might have expressed my frustration with a vent or two.
However, I am fairly certain I would never have described children as ‘stupid’, as I saw in one recent blog post. Nor would have I described my toddler waking from a nap as the ‘worst sound’, as in a recent tweet.
To take the blog post first. If you’re a mummy blogger, you have probably read the post I’m talking about – it was hugely popular, and featured as Mumsnet Bloggers’ Network blog of the day last week.
I understand that the post was intended as a light-hearted view at parenting, supposed to be viewed as tongue-in-cheek. Yes, I am over-sensitive at the moment and no, I didn’t have to read it. But I was left feeling discombobulated at some of the descriptions such as children being, I quote, ‘fucking stupid’.
The fact that the post was intended to be funny, and so other many other mummies found it hilarious frustrated and upset me.
For me, those words crossed a line from a vent into disrespect.
The tweet disturbed me. Of course, it is impossible to convey context in the 124 characters of a tweet. The mother may well have been knackered and at her wits’ end after weeks or months of broken sleep.
But describing it as the ‘worst sound’ – really?
There are mothers who would think the sound of their toddler waking is the most glorious in the world. Mothers who, for example, laid their child to sleep, never again to wake due to sudden infant death syndrome.
To put it in another context, mothers in Gaza may describe the sound of an Israeli rocket attack as the ‘worst sound’. Not knowing if it will be them burying their children in a few hours’ time.
These mothers are not the only ones to have crossed a line, in my eyes. I have singled out these examples because they have provoked me in to writing this post.
I do not mean to judge: I have no doubt that they love their children immensely. I respect that this is the way these mothers choose to express themselves.
I do not know these women, or their situations. I have to wonder, though, whether they have ever experienced the sorrow of infertility. I wonder too whether they have ever known the intense pain of their baby or child dying, of having to plan their funeral and show love for them by tending their grave.
Mummies (and daddies), by all means have a vent about the frustrations of parenting. But please remember children are a precious gift bestowed on the fortunate. Vent, but count your blessings too. Children should never be taken for granted.