Navigating the mama brag
On my sometime commute, I recently decided to put down the Metro and start listening to podcasts. Mainly, because i’m sure that motherhood has affected my ability to retain information – so i’m hoping that practicing some focused listening will work. And also because in starting this little business, i’m more intrigued by others’ opinions and decisions than I was before.
And more generally in life, I want to know more. What really makes people / mothers / partners / friends / (uh, toddlers?) tick. How can I improve my general knowledge to be a credible Trivial Pursuit player (ultimate family goal)
Anyway. Of the million podcasts out there, I stumbled across this great one (The Longest Shortest Time) called ‘How to brag to your mom friends’. And it was really interesting. Listen to it – the link is here.
Essentially, in all of our conversations with other mum’s, from the beginning of pregnancy, to birth stories, to newborns and toddlers, there are so many different experiences to take into account. And it’s impossible not to take some of these conversations to heart because sometimes, comparisons are just too easy to make.
But sharing, occasionally, could come across a bit like bragging, especially if your mama friend is coming from experiences a world away. And I really got unstuck with this. We had a sleeping baby (genuinely, not a brag. She just was). She was quick to take on routines, and I can count on two hands how many times we had to get up to comfort her in the night. But in the early days, no-one wants to hear this. So I kept quiet and didn’t feel like I could talk about my experiences. And at times, I just felt a bit left out of the gang. The great thing about sharing baby experiences is the bonding; complaining that you have to wake your child up in the mornings could quickly make someone want to poke you in the eye.
But really. Would it have done?
Or was I just worried that it would be perceived to be bragging? I’m still a bit unknown on the sleep thing because I didn’t experience many truly tough times. But i’ve been on the other side too on a different parenting challenge. I found myself in a world of formula and bottles much quicker than I wanted to be, and in hindsight, I probably talked about this ALL. THE. BLOODY. TIME to friends who quickly took to breastfeeding. And so maybe they felt the same, like they couldn’t share how amazing and wonderful it must be to be able to breastfeed for as long as you choose. So actually, maybe in that situation I was the one making friends feel like they couldn’t talk about their experiences.
There was a quote from this particular podcast and it totally resonates….
“friendship is not real if you can’t share your good times along with the bad”
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions (apart from a commitment to eating more Kale and snacking on nuts, which lasts generally, about 2 weeks) but I have decided to try and remember that advice, and talk about the good stuff more (maybe more sensitively, if it’s possibly not what someone else wants to hear that day. Eye pokes still possible) But sharing the odd brag-ette of major breakthroughs, or the end of a tough toddler phase (and incidentally, I may have had a brilliant sleeping baby, but not so much in recent toddler times*) is really important.
So, note to self; Talk about the bad stuff. Celebrate the great stuff. Know that every experience is different. Be thankful for lovely friends.
New year, new commitment to brag-ette’s.
Footnote – i’ll still 100% panic about the bragging thing. It’s a given. I’m English. But maybe we need to brag about life just a bit more anyway 🙂
*Second footnote. The GroClock is a hero. I’ve not looked back.