We all know being a parent can be hard sometimes. Children bring great joy, but they also pose great challenges for which we are not always prepared. We also have to deal with our own emotions and hormones whilst being there for our children 24 hours a day.
There's no shame in sometimes feeling overwhelmed, as our MAD Blog Awards finalists show. These finalists, some of the best Mum and Dad bloggers out there, show how blogs can become a place where parents can share their experiences of the harder, darker side of parenting honestly, intimately and sometimes even hilariously.
Through their brave, open posts they have created support networks with other parents experiencing the same range of emotions, and offered endless comfort to anybody who has ever found themselves thinking 'am I really cut out for this?'
Many mothers experience post-natal depression but feel too ashamed to ask for help. Knowing others are experiencing the same thing can help them come to terms with what they are feeling. Edspire blogs about her suspected postnatal depression a year after the birth of her twins. Her post is partly an honest reflection of her feelings and partly a cry for help and the questions she poses will strike a chord with most parents, whether they have experienced PND or not.
We all hope our children are born healthy but as Multiple Mummy writes in this piece about one of her twins being born with holes in her heart, we don't always get what we wish for. She reminds us that we can find an inner strength we perhaps didn't realise we possessed, when our children truly need us.
And More Than Toast shares her experiences of living with her daughter's rare genetic condition, explaining how it's easy to get overwhelmed but that she wouldn't have her daughter any other way.
There is support for all kinds of scenarios, both emotional and practical, in the parent blogging world. Mammasaurus has eight children but only two live with her, and she explains why in this heartfelt, searingly honest post.
The comments this post has generated are proof of the sympathetic, non-judgemental nature of parent bloggers. No matter what your situation you can find support and help.
Frugal Queen writes here about how the death of brilliant singer Amy Winehouse caused her to feel guilty relief that it was not her daughter, who has issues with drugs and alcohol, who died that day. Once again commentators are supportive and sympathetic. In dark times a support network can be all that keeps us going.
Blogs can be a brilliant source of supportive and practical advice on development issues too. Susan K Mann has put together a great post on using social stories to help her son with issues using the toilet at school.
However serious the situation, the best parent bloggers can always find a spark of humour, and this is beautifully demonstrated by MammyWoo, the blog of Lexy who 'used to be cool. Now I wee when I sneeze'.
Lexy's severe postnatal depression saw her hospitalised for a short period of time and as she puts it: "It was a dark time for me, mostly because I couldn't reach the light switch from my bed." Always entertaining but never dismissive or flippant, Lexy's must-read blog documents her journey wittily and wisely and is full of inner strength.
They all have their own different circumstances but all of our MAD Blog Awards finalists are brave enough to talk about all aspects of parenting, good and bad, for the benefit of all of us.
Want to know more? You can find links to all of our finalists' blogs – and vote for your favourites – at the MAD Blog Awards.