Even Alpha Mummies struggle…

I have created a whole world of doodles laughing about the fact that I (er…I mean Beta Mummy…not based on reality at all…ahem) can’t really cope with my kids, that my life has been turned entirely on its head by family life, and that basically I am one big mess.  I write and doodle to make people laugh – and people do!  They identify with me, they laugh at (with?!) me – and let’s face it, a huge proportion of the issues that affect parents every day are funny.  Or at least have a funny side, even if it’s several days/weeks/months/years later that you manage to find it!

But what about when life is not fun?  What about when you look around you, and everyone else seems to be coping with the ups and downs of the everyday, but you find yourself feeling alone and struggling to manage?

This is Alpha Mummy.

She is the mum that everyone aspires to be.  She looks great, having lost that baby weight within minutes of giving birth (naturally and with no drugs or collateral damage).  Her baby is perfect and contented and feeds/sleeps/shits like clockwork.  She glides into Baby Sensory class, skinny latte in the cup holder of her designer pram, a beatific smile upon her perfectly made-up face, and has a kind or helpful word for everyone in the room.  You know the type.

A doodle of Alpha Mummy with her pram (complete with cup holder)

 

This is Beta Mummy.

She is only at Baby Sensory because somebody gave a voucher for a free trial, and she thought she should force herself to go because otherwise Feral Baby would surely grow up to be a complete moron having been subjected to far too much daytime TV in his formative weeks.  Also there might be biscuits.  She arrives at the class late, because… baby, and has her top on back to front over her milk-stained maternity leggings.  Her hair is an embarrassment and she can’t quite remember when she last had a shower… You know the type.

A doodle of Beta Mummy and her pram

I am Beta Mummy.

I am Beta Mummy, as regular readers will well know – and I am in total awe of Alpha Mummy.  That woman sure has her shit together.  When I had my first baby, I would look at the Alpha mums out and about and wonder how does she do it?  Why can’t I be like her?  How has she managed to get her nails and roots done, whilst I’m lucky to go to the loo and clean my teeth in the mornings?  Where am I going wrong?  She is such a natural mother.  I’m a terrible mother – I don’t even LIKE my baby very much (oh my god did I think that out loud?).  I’m a truly bad person.  I don’t deserve to have this beautiful little baby.  Other people would give anything to have a child and I don’t even want mine.  I wish someone would come and take him away.  But if I tell anyone that I’m feeling like this – Social Services WILL take him away!  That can’t happen.  I won’t tell anyone.  Pull yourself together love, you got yourself into this mess.

Appearances can be deceptive.

What you don’t know, when you look at Alpha Mummy, is that she probably doesn’t have all her shit together.  Sure, she might look great on the surface, but that smile can hide all sorts of anxieties and insecurities.  Like you, she probably feels like her body will never be the same again.  Like you, she worries that she is not enough.  Like you, she wants to be a good mum but now she is faced with an ever-hungry, red-faced, puking shit-machine (because I guarantee that little snoozing angel you always see is not like that all the time), she wonders whether she is really up to the job.

Alpha Mummy looking unhappy, holding baby, with a grey cloud over her head.

 

Talk to each other.

Out and about, online, in coffee shops or at groups, talk.  Drink tea, eat cake, and talk.  Reach out, connect.  If you’re struggling, please, please tell somebody.  When asked if you’re ok, take a deep breath and say “I’m not sure”.  I know it’s hard, but believe me, life will seem easier if you share that load.  You are not alone.

Don’t be intimidated by the Alpha Mummy you meet – she might really need somebody right now.  If you know someone who you suspect might not be 100% fine, talk to them. Gently.  Don’t just ask if they’re feeling ok – the automatic response will be “yes thanks”.  Tell them that it’s ok not to be ok.  Tell them again.  Be their friend.

Doodle of Alpha Mummy and Beta Mummy having a hug

 

Important bit:

Life is full of spectrums (grammar note: spectra or spectrums can be used interchangeably as the plural of spectrum).  I love a spectrum.  Mental health is a spectrum – not everyone who is feeling low after having a baby has PND, and not everyone with PND feels low all of the time.  Some people with PND will recover, in time, with perseverance and courage and love and support.  Others will need professional help of one form or another.  I like to think of the Alpha – Beta Mummy spectrum to describe how there is no true Alpha Mummy and no true Beta Mummy, but we all lie somewhere in between.  And this is very important:

Alpha Mummy does not equal perfect mother.

Beta Mummy does not equal terrible mother.

We are enough.  We are all enough.


I was prompted to write this post by PND Awareness Week 2016 – 5th to 11th September – but breaking down the taboo of PND must be a year-round issue.  10% of all women suffer from pre- or post-natal depression at some point.

The PANDAS Foundation supports women and families affected by perinatal mental illnesses.

They have a phone line open 9am – 8pm manned by trained volunteers  (0843 28 98 401), an email helpline, and various online and social media communities to help sufferers of PND and their partners and loved ones.

 

28 Comments

  • Sarah - Mum & Mor 11/09/2016 at 7:08 am

    This post is great. Alpha Mummy and Beta Mummy need each other’s support. We’re all in the same boat and PND doesn’t discriminate.

    Reply
  • Fran @ Whinge Whinge Wine 11/09/2016 at 7:43 am

    Gah I cried. This is a lovely post x

    Reply
  • Jenni - Odd Socks and Lollipops 11/09/2016 at 8:24 am

    I read this with tears in my eyes at the end. It’s perfect!

    Reply
  • Mouse Moo Me Too 11/09/2016 at 8:44 am

    Amazing amazing amazing post Beth. Proud to call you my friend and very lucky that you’ve been my go to person for many years when dealing with the “spectra” xxx

    Reply
  • justsayingmum 11/09/2016 at 9:13 am

    I held my breath through reading this. So heartfelt and so poignant. This needs to be out there – it needs to be everywhere – everyone needs to see this post, Beth xx

    Reply
  • Becky sparklymummy 11/09/2016 at 12:52 pm

    Damn you I’m crying !!! Amazingly well put I think sometimes a lot of us spend our lives like swans gliding graceful though life while under the surface it’s all out panic ! And we need to remember to say it’s ok to say we’re not ok or that we are not coping and it’s definitely ok to ask for help, it’s not a sign of weakness but of great strength.
    Thank you for sharing and raising awareness xxx
    #triballove

    Reply
  • Single Mum Speaks 11/09/2016 at 1:06 pm

    Obviously this is a beautiful post, and very, very true, but those comments have already been made. What I really wanted to say was: how pink is Alpha Mummy’s dress?! She looks fab. That is one lovely felt tip right there.

    Reply
    • Beta Mummy 11/09/2016 at 1:13 pm

      Ha ha she sure does like pink! 😉

      Reply
      • Becky sparklymummy 11/09/2016 at 1:17 pm

        I liked that her dress matched her changing bag !!! – it’s a beautiful shade !!!

        Reply
  • Lisa 11/09/2016 at 7:49 pm

    Fabulous post and so very, very true. When my two girls were babies, I was that Alpha Mummy, at least to the outside world. I was horribly organised had everything sorted, and yes my (mothercare) travel system had a cup holder and a digital clock and a little lift up bit with a small tray thing where I could put my keys (really it was amazing). One child wasn’t too bad, but after number two arrived life inside the home was awful. I found it hard to cope with two little people. I struggled on until Miss L was 4 years old, then I got help. So yes, you’re spot on we all need to lookout for one another, whatever age our children happen to be.

    Reply
  • Suzanne 11/09/2016 at 7:50 pm

    I LOVE this post. It’s really easy to think everyone looks like they’re more ok than we are but so many people are struggling without us even realising. #EatSleepBlogRT

    Reply
  • Themotherhub 11/09/2016 at 8:59 pm

    Brilliant and important. I like to tell everyone I meet how hard parenting is ( I’m fun) if only because they might be finding it tough and I want them to know they’re not alone

    Reply
  • Right Royal Mother 11/09/2016 at 9:27 pm

    Oh, Beth this is a bloody amazing post. I’ve just watched ‘Motherland’ and although it’s pretty funny, it’s also poignant in the way you’ve highlighted. Really amazing post and I think we are all Alphas and Betas – and definitely enough. And btw you are definitely Alpha all the way for me. #eatsleepblogRT

    Reply
    • Beta Mummy 11/09/2016 at 9:30 pm

      I need to watch Motherland!

      Reply
    • Beta Mummy 11/09/2016 at 9:30 pm

      And thank you xxx

      Reply
  • An imperfect mum (Catie) 12/09/2016 at 11:22 am

    Such a brilliant post. I think you are spot on because when my kids were small I almost killed myself trying to keep up the appearance of an Alpha mummy, perfect hair, clothes, house etc etc I’m much happier and moe relaxed being the beta mummy now. We never really know what is going on in anyone’s head/heart. Loved this! #EatSleepBlogRT

    Reply
  • Kat 12/09/2016 at 5:37 pm

    Such an important issue, I really hate seeing other women battling against each other, especially when its things like motherhood. The fact is you have no idea what is going on behind a smile, and a hello, hug or simple acknowledgement can really help someone to open up, know they’re not alone or encourage them to speak up! #eatsleepblogrt

    Reply
  • The Unsung Mum 12/09/2016 at 7:57 pm

    Love love love this! You made me smile, cry and nod along like I couldn’t believe. You’ve done this subject so much justice! 💖

    Reply
  • The Mum Reviews 12/09/2016 at 8:31 pm

    A well-written, creative post addressing a very real issue. I wish mummies would all be as nice to each other IRL as they are in blog-world! #EatSleepBlogRT

    Reply
  • Katherine 13/09/2016 at 3:34 am

    I just love this… And it’s so true. Everyone struggles, keeping up the alpha mom facade can be even more tough sometimes as everyone thinks you’re doing just great. I’ve alpha or beta depending on the day and what time my twins wake up! 😂

    Reply
  • Eliana 13/09/2016 at 3:00 pm

    beautiful post! Just came across your blog by the #eatsleepblogrt linky and I truly enjoyed reading it. Totally agree with you, at the end we are all in that “in between stage” it just depends on how many hours of sleep did you get! 😉

    Reply
  • Rachel Bustin 13/09/2016 at 3:23 pm

    Lovely post. We all need that bit of help whether we are Alphas or Betas we as mums all struggle xx

    Thanks for sharing it with #EatSleepBlogRT

    Reply
  • Mum-Work-Repeat 14/09/2016 at 5:57 am

    A really lovely post, I know I’ve definitely had those days, more so when the little guy was a baby that I’ve thought I want my pre baby life back. I don’t want to get up and be “mum” today I need some space and time out!! If people had asked was I ok, i’d reply, “yes, I’m fine, I’ve got this single parenting off to a tee” * liar liar your bums on fire! X

    Reply
  • Bridie By The Sea 14/09/2016 at 12:24 pm

    Oh this is so lovely, I’m bawling my eyes out like an idiot. When Emma was in those early months, I met so many Alpha Mummies…some of the girls from my NCT group are Alpha Mummies. I felt I could never say if I was having a crap day. Months on we are good friends and if I had just said, things would have been different I reckon. Such a wonderful post xx #eatsleepblogrt

    Reply
  • Dave - Dad's Turn 14/09/2016 at 8:13 pm

    So true. Every parent struggles in some area, regardless of how they look on the outside. And those things can always be you down. Support from other parents is so important to get through this.
    #eatsleepblogrt

    Reply
  • Petite Pudding 15/09/2016 at 6:31 pm

    This is a lovely post and so important. It really connects with me. When I finally came out and said I was struggling everyone looked so shocked. They really thought I had my shit together – appearances can be deceiving #EatSleepBlogRT

    Reply
  • Messy Wawa 08/10/2016 at 12:22 pm

    This is a truly wonderful post.

    Reply
  • Mindful Mummy Mission 10/10/2016 at 10:15 pm

    This is an awesome post – I particularly love the last illustration but the cupholder thing made me giggle too! Your idea about mental health being on a spectrum really resonated with me and is something I have been trying to post about but this is so much more elequent than I could have done. Wonderful post xx

    Reply

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