When I was pregnant I really worried about what motherhood would be like, I think because most of my assumptions were based on advertising and fleeting depictions in shows like Neighbours. Mums moaned, worried, cleaned, fussed, dealt with stained football shirts, made gravy, responded to whining chimes of ‘MUUUUUM!’ and made urgent phone calls. It was nothing like what my own mum had been like, so doubly weird, but still, that was what I thought my future entailed and I knew I’d be bloody rubbish at all of it.
Instagram hadn’t kicked in when I was pregnant (thank GOD) so they remained my only references. I began to search for reality TV featuring new mums. 16 and Pregnant was a favourite, the episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians where Kourtney gives birth to Mason was safely stashed in my freeview recorder. I read and re-read Mel Giedroyc’s book, From Here To Maternity.
But I found nothing like what is on offer today. There is a brilliant antidote to this ‘post-truth’ era that’s given us filtered, edited perfection online, where bright, brave and honest women give us the real deal. For me, it started with Catastrophe – all hail Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney – which made me laugh and wince in equal measures. Then last week I saw Tully and then started The Let Down on Netflix, both of which are so bang on and so funny. Funny because they’re truthful and real. The unequivocal love mixed with the sleep deprived aches, the self doubt, the massive changes you field along the way…
It feels like every time someone depicts the messy, not-so-pretty sides of motherhood, we can all heave a collective sigh of relief – it’s not just us. In fact, sometimes it’s worse than what we’ve got going on. Sometimes it’s exactly the same and the empathy gives you licence to tell your own stories, or to encourage your partner to start to understand what’s going on with you. It’s like those women – Diablo Cody, Sharon Horgan, Alison Bell, Sarah Scheller – are reaching out their hands to high five you as you milk yourself over a toilet or sit on the floor outside your baby’s room not-nailing sleep training. I already feel about a million times more relaxed about how I roll nowadays. Plus, the thrillers we were watching before had started giving me heartburn.