January and all of the new beginnings a fresh, unsullied year brings leads to much self-reflection – sometimes. It can also lead to complete and utter flagellation of self as we go nuts on the bubbles, the bbq’s, the ‘amazing sales’, the realisation that the season we wait for all year is finally here and what better way to ring it in than with a third degree sunburn and a belly full of beer and pre-cooks!
Either way or a little bit of both right?
2017 is the year The Best Nest blog turns 10. I have spent a quarter of my life forming these words, creating these images, making mistakes (many!) and also making friends though the opportunities presented around this little community. The digital landscape today is so vastly different from that which existed in 2007 it’s almost unrecognisable.
Back then, we blogged for the sheer joy/relief/catharsis of discovering an outlet or creative medium that was just ‘ours’. As a stay-at-home mum, The Best Nest became a place where I could explore and grow whatever mediocre talent I thought I had in the realm of online journalling. Blogs were virtual destinations, bloggers the friends we wished lived next door. There was no shortage of visual eye candy, crafty DIY marvels, projects to try and fail at.
We were ALL inspired.
In the hey-day of ‘Less LOOK, more DO’ I learnt to crochet (and completed a huge blanket project with my Mum), I got out the sewing machine and made Ethan a wrestling dummy which the kids still use today, a beautiful advent calendar and Christmas bunting, participated in a sewing blog swap and made E some pillowcases when I couldn’t find ones I loved enough to purchase from a store. I was creating in the kitchen all the time and my vegetable garden was amazing and as productive as I was with all of my ‘projects’ on the go! I was constantly faffing about in the house, redecorating, refinishing, keeping both the inside and outside of wherever we lived spic and span.
I was happy. I did things that made me happy.
Obviously, a sea-change in blogging can’t be held responsible for my own personal motivational rut. There is definitely a LOT more at play there. I worked my ass off in 2016 and prioritised that above all else. I think a lot of us did. For the first time in 10 years, there was an abundance of blogging work and I unapologetically ‘made hay whilst the sun shone’.
Meanwhile, the trend of ‘keeping it real’ in all aspects of blogging became the genre de jour – a complete juxtaposition to the social media darling-of-the-moment that is Instagram. Where Mummy Blogging used to be a shambles of bunting headers and pastel cupcakes – annoyingly upbeat and positive, but in a real Holly Homemaker kind of way, you could always learn a thing or two, or at the very least, wake up in the morning inspired by something other than mastering the art of using Boomerang on Instagram. What 2016 brought to the blogging table was a cold, dark wasteland of ‘truth’, where parenting became more difficult than joyous and our kids became little mess-makers that you had to share your Netflix account with.
Truth in every aspect of our lives is absolutely necessary, including in our writing, but there is always a choice about which truth we choose to share. A wise mama whose blog I’ve been reading for years, Dee Rolston from Needle & Nail once wrote that she would no longer be writing about her children in a disparaging way. That they too should be afforded the respect we extend to adults when choosing what to share online. I remember thinking at the time that this was a pretty hardcore stance to take and what on earth would I write about if I chose not to bitch about my kids?
Dee’s sentiment has stuck with me for years and I’ve returned to it again and again, like a sweater that didn’t fit, just to try it on again for size. And now I think it fits – at least as well as it’s ever going to.
Look, I get the whole ‘sisterhood’ thing that comes with the sharing and lamenting of our collective parenting hardships and that this is an immensely valuable connection in what’s becoming an increasingly fragmented society. Kids are nutters, this is a fact, and I will never dispute this, but kids are also freaking awesome and surely there’s some epic shit to write about their good days right? RIGHT?
One thing that really grates me right now is the ‘acceptance of average’ that has evolved in every forum that discusses modern mothering. We are all ‘enough’, this is true, and this realisation is a wonderful place to arrive at as a mother and a thirty-something-year-old woman. The problem is that the pendulum has swung a full 180° and mummy-shaming is now directed at those that like to pack a fully-styled bento lunchbox for their toddler each day, or those who are perceived as a bit more ‘yummy’ than mummy. God forbid you cook, bake, keep a sparkling house, enjoy crafting and take pride in your home. This is now considered way too positive and mundane for the general collective.
I want to be inspired again. By whom, I’m not sure, but I hope they’re out there.
Just yesterday Stuff ran an article titled “In 2017, I’m aiming to be a worse mum“. Yawn. What in the actual fuck? As one commenter wrote, “Oh dear…….another one of these”.
I have no idea really, but I feel like this article and the freaking bajillions of others out there that are written in a similar vein, are all based on the same basic premise; that we as women and mothers are infinitely influenced, pressured and judged by other women.
What if this notion (that is reinforced every day by both bloggers and traditional media alike) was false? Where is this perceived ‘pressure’ coming from? What if the mum who chooses to spend some time each day styling Bento Lunchboxes actually gives zero fucks if you chuck some chips, a muesli bar, apple and peanut butter sandwich into a plain old Sistema storage box and call it lunch? I don’t think she has time to worry about it aye? I don’t have time to judge other mothers on their lunch-making skills, shit, I don’t even make the lunches in our house, my husband does! I don’t feel bad for it nor do I feel like shaming the mamas who make beautiful lunches for their kids – that’s a hobby/interest/passion of theirs that actually produces something positive. Power to them!
I wake up every morning and hope to be a better wife and mother than I was the day before. I refuse to accept that average is the final destination and that taking pride in everything I hold dear (my kids, family, house) is something to be ashamed of or to explain away. I plan on celebrating the good in my life this year, dwelling on my bad days serves no purpose, sucks my motivation and impedes my ability to better myself in all aspects of my life.
I’m certainly not an inspirational person so I’m keen to discover blogs you love that celebrate life and family, are creative/inspirational/aspirational or those that motivate you in some way. I’d love you to leave a comment with some links below xx
Happy New Year everyone!