Mothers need to give one another a break

Two incidents sent me into ‘reflection mode’ last week.

First, I saw a few posts on FB, which made me check out what the Maria Kang controversy was all about. Second, a fellow mummy blogger received a really uncalled-for comment by another mum, crticising her blog post, and ending with a snide remark. Yes, two cases of the endless cycle of mummy judging.

On Maria Kang, I figured that she was just trying to inspire other mums to achieve what she had, in a “Yan can cook, so can you” way. But because it has become so politically incorrect to utter the word “fat”, for fear of damaging the self-esteem of large women for the next ten years, she was publicly lynched. Mostly by other mothers, sadly.

I do understand that there are many women struggling with their weight, and completely understand how unnecessary and damaging the conventional idea of magazine and Hollywood-endorsed beauty is, to young girls. I agree that we should not buy into the lie that one must look like a model to be beautiful or desirable, and I am working hard at making sure my own daughters are comfortable in their own skin.

But I don’t think Maria Kang meant to make large-sized mothers feel more rotten than they already do, or to promote bulimia or anorexia in our young. She got to where she is through exercise, and it is to her credit that she prioritised working out to get back in shape, instead of flailing her arms in helplessness, or tucking into that extra bag of chips because she “just couldn’t help it”. With three young kids, it takes extreme discipline to wake up early to exercise, instead of sleeping in that extra hour. So I really wouldn’t run her down.

Similar to that bitter comment on my friend’s blog, I think the furore is more reflective of the commenters’ own state of mind. If a fit and fab mum evokes such negative reactions in me, perhaps it’s because I am insecure myself. Why begrudge her my admiration, unless it’s because it has highlighted some weakness of my own that I’m loathe to admit? Why criticise a post that’s meant to help other mums, unless I am wrapped up in envy and deeply unhappy with my own circumstances?

Surely mums already have it so hard, most times, that as mothers, we should be standing shoulder to shoulder with each other, and encouraging one another at every opportunity, regardless of our individual circumstances. How has ‘mummy judging’ ever helped anyone? Certainly it doesn’t help the ‘judge’, who usually comes across merely as yet another a nasty mud-slinger.

The fellow mummy blogger’s post also mentioned taking time out for oneself, and I completely agree that that is crucial, so as to be the best mother and wife I can be. Running myself to the ground with work and care of the kids 24/7 is a recipe for disaster. Mothers need breathing space too. To just be themselves for a second. Or two. And after that, they return to their posts refreshed and ready to take on whatever life may throw at them. Surely their family benefits from that break as much as they do.

Many times, things go pear-shaped at home, because we are simply so, so, tired. It’s the tiredness speaking, a friend once said. How true. And how important, thus, to be very aware of when we are nearing that breaking point. And to mindfully schedule sufficient rest as far as possible, so that our families get the best “us”, instead of a tired, snappy version.

Personally, I find scrapbooking therapeutic. Thus, when I’m not completely tired out, I don’t mind spending the quiet hours of the night arranging photos, cutting paper, and journalling memories. It’s a creative outlet, and an activity in which I can immerse myself for hours.

[Actually, I also enjoy karaoke singing very much, and find belting out mandopop most cathartic. 😛 However, it’s very difficult to find time (and company) for that, so I’ve more or less given it up for this season of life.]

Guess the challenge for every mum is to find an activity in which they can restore a bit of themselves, an activity in which they can realistically spend some time on… If there doesn’t seem to be ANY time available for “restoration”, mums could discuss with their family how this can be made possible, as an investment into a better wife and mother for the whole family. 说实在的,很多时候,休息确实是为了走更长的路。

Adding art to the moments

  1 comment for “Mothers need to give one another a break

  1. October 29, 2013 at 1:56 pm

    I’ll join you for karaoke! But I only sing Jay Chou and Teresa Teng!

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