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I remember when I first had Buzz in 2014, I was really struck by the perfect images of motherhood I kept seeing online – lots of big smiles and crisp white sheets. It just didn’t feel like real life to me. Every time I opened my social media or browsed the internet and saw other mums, it felt like a reminder that I would never measure up.
That’s why I started talking about what motherhood really looked and felt like for me. Of course it was wonderful, but it was also relentless and lonely and sometimes desperately hard.
And the more I spoke about these things, the more other people started speaking to me. Telling me about their experiences and responding to mine. The more I was honest about the dazzling highs and the desolate lows, the more people told me they identified. When I was in the poo laden, sick filled, milky trenches of early motherhood that didn’t look like the things I saw on Instagram and I reached out and said something, the more I found people who said “I’m there with you”. When I had questions about teething or weaning or when I felt like a shouty mum, there was always someone there who knew what I was going through, who got what it was like to feel all the conflicting feelings of parenting. That’s what led to the Happy Mum Happy Baby book, then the podcast, and eventually this community.
I had a platform that I could use to bring people together and I loved being able to do just that. I knew that by speaking out I was finding comfort in the words people replied with, just as they took comfort from mine. Talking and telling stories has always been healing to me but the more I talked, the more I realised other people needed a way to tell their stories too. I can’t speak for all mothers. I can’t speak for all parents and I really don’t want to try to. Parenthood is such a wonderfully rich and diverse tapestry of stories and I believe that we should be sharing them all.
So we launched Will Talk. A place where parents from all walks of life can talk about their experiences. And I have been staggered by the stories that drop into our inbox. I have been moved to tears by the strength and determination and sheer vulnerability of the stories that people have shared. I have nodded along with stories that I recognise and I have had my eyes opened to things I’ve never experienced. We started with Mums Will Talk and have heard from foster carers, NICU mamas, those recovering from maternal mental health difficulties, step mums, a mum who is an amputee and a mum of a daughter with Downs syndrome. We’ve heard stories about the work/life/parenthood juggle, breastfeeding, starting school, embracing individuality, parenting in the pandemic and so many more.
Recently, we launched Dads will Talk so we could give Dads a platform to share their stories too. So far, we’ve heard from Baby Club’s Nigel Clarke about cherishing his kids, TheDIYDads about the first time he met his adopted daughter and DadBlogUK about being his girls’ main carer. Dads are notoriously quiet about their experiences but their stories are just as important. We talk a lot about maternal mental health and the importance of looking out for mums but men aren’t immune to experiencing difficulties with their mental health. We know that sharing stories can make people feel less alone so I’m keen to do everything I can to get more men talking about fatherhood and what it means to them, in the hopes that we can reduce isolation amongst Dads too.
Reading these stories certainly opens your eyes. It’s a cliche but it reminded me of that old phrase “be kind, because you never know what someone is going through”. We always think a parents’ experience is linear, we assume it’s like our own, but often it is so far from that. Will Talk shows just that.
We’re always looking for more stories, more experiences, more opportunities to show just how rich and varied experiences of raising tiny humans can be. At Happy Mum Happy Baby, we truly believe in making sure that as many stories as possible are heard to show the diversity of parenthood so if you don’t see stories like yours on Will Talk, we want to hear from you. We want to celebrate families of all shapes and sizes, and need your help in doing so. What does parenthood mean to you? Is there a certain lesson you want to share? A moment of vulnerability you think it would’ve helped you to read about before it happened to you? Or do you want to share a story or realisation that had you grinning from ear to ear?