Motherhood, mental illness and beyond

Posts tagged ‘help’

Kindness

Some days I despair of humanity. We can seem so intolerant, so self-centred, so oblivious to the struggles of others. Today is not one of those days, however. Today is one of the days where I have been utterly overwhelmed by people’s kindness.

Earlier today my last pair of jeans (well, the last pair that fit anyway) ripped beyond repair. I tweeted my annoyance at this and almost immediately a friend replied offering to buy me a new pair. My sister contacted me from her holiday in Spain to tell me I could borrow from her if I needed to.

Tonight I was in need of a good moan, having discovered that I have 2 days worth of anti-depressants left and no money spare to pay the £7.85 for the prescription (how I miss living in Wales, land of the mountains, valleys and free prescriptions!). DH is in the middle of reapplying for Jobseekers Allowance but the rules have changed and until I find my passport to prove my identity he cannot claim, so in the meantime I have to pay for prescriptions. I can find the money by cutting back on next week’s food shopping – we have food in the freezer and I’ll have some money coming in next Friday, so it’s not as dire as it could be (I’m especially grateful that I’ve already paid for DD’s school meals for the next fortnight!).

So anyway, I had a good old whinge about this on Twitter. And then sat open-mouthed, then tearful, then properly sobbing as no fewer than 14 people contacted me and offered to send me the money for the prescription. I’ve never met a single one of these people, although I chat with most of them fairly regularly. And yet they all reached out, willing to give money to a stranger, trusting that I was genuine and not trying to con them. Of course I declined the offers; there are ways we can manage and I’m a shamefully proud person. I find it very difficult to accept help. But I was so touched that these wonderful people wanted to help.

I’m not ready sure what the point of this post is, apart from to share my wonder and joy at the kindness shown to me today. It really has lifted me up, made life seem a little brighter. But I would like to ask everyone reading this to perform an act of kindness tomorrow. It doesn’t have to involve money, just do something to make someone else’s life easier or brighter. Believe me, it can make a huge difference to someone’s day and it can really restore your faith in humanity.

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Mumsnet – the marmite of parenting sites

I’ve been inspired to write this after reading this blogpost by the awesome Kraken. It’s not intended as a response but reading her post clarified some thoughts I’ve had on the subject lately. I’ll be honest here – I’m a Mumsnetter so my approach will be a bit different to Kraken’s. 🙂

For those who live under a rock don’t know, Mumsnet is one of the most prominent parenting forums in the UK. They have more than 50 million page views per month and log over 8 million visits per month. There are posters on Mumsnet of all genders, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality and social background. Most are parents but not all; despite the site’s name being a parent is not a requirement to join and there are many members who have no desire to have children or who are unable to.

Mumsnet is often in the news but usually only when someone’s complaining about it. The part of the site that gets most media attention is the “Am I Being Unreasonable?” board which is known to be argumentative and helps lazy journalists write about the “nest of vipers” as Mumsnet was once labelled. Strangely the site’s detractors never seem to report the advice and support members receive on topics as varied as mental health, bereavement, education, special needs and many more.

One of the accusations frequently levelled at Mumsnet is that posters are mean, nasty, bullies etc. Some are, it’s true. Some are saints. Most of the rest fall in between. 🙂 The problem is that Mumsnet is not pre-moderated and the staff rely on members reporting unpleasant posts. If no-one reports nastiness then it’s unlikely it will be seen and deleted. Mumsnet have a strong anti-bullying policy – sometimes they miss things or get it wrong but I have seen posters deleted, suspended and/or banned on many occasions. But of course it’s the idiots who stand out and give the site a bad name.

I realise that I sound a little defensive and to be honest I am. Mumsnet is a site that has supported me for many years. When I was suicidal with PND it was Mumsnetters who talked me round in the middle of the night, who gave me strength and hope. It was Mumsnetters who sent me clothes for my baby son when I was unexpectedly pregnant and we had no money to buy him anything. It is Mumsnetters who spend time and energy and money fundraising for many charities and campaigning for change in many important areas such as miscarriage care and support for victims of rape and domestic violence. It is Mumsnetters who spend time lovingly crafting Woolly Hugs blankets for children who are terminally ill both in the UK and abroad, for children who are seriously ill, for Mumsnetters who have lost a child or partner.

Mumsnet is a site that divides people more than any other. The trouble is that parenting today is scrutinised and criticised as never before and many parents feel insecure. Infant feeding, weaning techniques, where the baby sleeps, discipline, nappies, buggies, slings – there’s always someone to tell you that you’re doing it wrong, whether it’s a stranger online, a journalist, friend, relative or so-called ‘experts’. And that’s just in the first year or two! Most people have the sense to concentrate on their own children and let other people bring up theirs as they will – but there’s always an idiot somewhere willing to judge. Mumsnet is merely a reflection of society at large.

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