What the hell did parents do before the internet? This week I must have read at least 10 online responses to an article about whether or not we fetishise parenting - AND I DIDN'T EVEN WANT TO READ THEM. Firstly - the word fetishise should only ever be used in bad undergraduate essays or by people who like to wear nappies and aren't babies.
Yes: the mummy blogging phenomenon has connected (and probably saved) millions of overwrought women. And yes: Mumsnet is a great and wondrous thing - and my god do I wish I had thought of it. And yes: I am the world's biggest hypocrite because I'm complaining about the insane plethora of parenting blogs WHILE WRITING A PARENTING BLOG. But please! Parents of the world - enough is enough!
There really is such a thing as 'too much information', and we - the foot soldiers of the internet age - are discovering that. 'Penis beaker' anyone (Google it if you don't know what I'm talking about, you will weep)? Savage online catfights between women about breast feeding AGAIN anyone? I'm just not sure I want to accidentally end up reading about the consistency of a stranger's baby's 'poo' (how I hate that word) just because I innocently signed up to a local parenting forum on Facebook. I was only looking for a source of second hand Boden dungarees goddamnit!
Thing is - online parenting spaces are amazingly useful when your baby wakes up with a terrifying looking rash at 4am. You recall how someone from Lewisham who you've never met posted a pic of a very similar looking thing on their poor fever-stricken five year old. If only you could filter out the rest of the generally very irritating parenthood ephemera though.
I love my 'sistas' but we have a worrying propensity to start needless fights (she writes, while starting a text argument with her husband triggered by the lack of milk in the fridge). Every parenting forum is littered with needlessly argumentative posts, and yes you find that everywhere from The Guardian to Daily Mail Online, but motherhood triggers a special sort of sanctimonious lunacy in certain people.
I'm all for honesty - I am by no means telling women to shut up and not share their experiences and advice - but there is now just too much out there. I've noticed posts where someone innocently asks about good dessert recipes, and the responses have ended up in an increasingly hysterical cycle of snipes about whether or not it's morally reprehensible to allow your child ice cream (or indeed any form of sugar). And the subject of vaccines is the mother of all online mothering battles (apart from - you guessed it - our old friend breast vs bottle).
I was born in 1981 to a mother who was the first in her family and peer group to have a child. Her own mother mysteriously vanished for several weeks around the time of my birth - so my mum arrived back from hospital utterly bewildered and clueless as to what to do with me. Maybe if she'd had access to Netmums, Selfish Mother and the like she wouldn't have felt as lonely and bemused by it all as she did. But her verdict on the internet obsession with parenting is a very healthy disdain. Her Baby Boomer approach of: just get on with it and try not to kill her (while constantly putting extra socks on my daughter's feet), has become more and more attractive to me as I flail around in an ocean of online parenting advice. It's not that we're fetishising it - we just need to stop going on about it. And I need to stop going on about us going on about it.
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