Are You OK? The simplest question we forget to ask.
October 23, 2019
There is rarely a week on the internet when I don’t see a post telling me what I can’t say to pregnant people or new mums – it’s a minefield.
One thing I firmly believe we should always say to new mums is Are you OK?
Royalist or not, you probably have an opinion on Harry and Meghan (note – “I don’t even care about Harry and Meghan” is actually an opinion).
I personally take no issue with the Royal family, as a country we like to do pomp and parade and for as long as that’s ‘our thing’, the Royals will likely exist. But that is neither here nor there.
As you are probably aware, Harry and Meghan have recently been the subject of a documentary and just last week, a small excerpt from that was shared on Twitter:
“Not many people have asked if I’m ok … it’s a very real thing to be going through behind the scenes.”
I watched this short clip and I really felt for Meghan as, actress or not, she was clearly upset and no decent person would wish that upon anyone right?
I went to investigate what Twitter had to say – turns out I was wrong…
These are just a handful of the comments in response, none of us will be surprised to see that Britain’s favourite Gammon, Piers Morgan had an opinion – he always does when Meghan is concerned.
What did surprise me was that most of these comments came from women.
What about the sisterhood ladies?
I was also very surprised to see that one of the comments was from a “Top 10 UK Daddy Blogger” who I assumed would understand the complexities of becoming a new parent.
Here we are presented with a video of a woman looking visibly upset, admitting she is struggling and appreciating that someone has remembered that she exists as a human outside the role of mum, wife and Royal.
Rather than be empathetic, it would seem that many folk out there prefer to believe the difficulties of becoming a new mother are determined by wealth and privilege. You’re simply not allowed to struggle if you have money, an extensive wardrobe and are over 30 years of age.
If, God forbid, you DO find yourself ‘living a life of privilege’ and struggling as a new mother you must by no means admit this. The struggle is for the real world, not for you.
While I appreciate that Meghan is under a lot more scrutiny than the majority of us are when we become parents, it really is a shocker that that simplest act of asking someone if they are OK should have such an impact. At a time when we are encouraging people to talk about mental health to break taboo we have discovered that there’s actually small print.
Becoming a new mum is hard, whether it’s your first or your third. It takes it’s toll on you, and not just physically.
Mentally, becoming a new mum is tough, often overwhelming. Many of us struggle yet it’s not something we readily talk about for fear of being judged for failing.
We will happily tell tales of perineal tears, the number of stitches we had, the horrors of the first post baby poo and the lack of control when sneezing yet we never really talk about what goes on mentally.
We don’t talk about the exhaustion, the loneliness, the guilt, the feelings of inadequacy and lack of confidence in ourselves that many of us have.
It is hardly surprising really.
Seeing someone speaking openly about such things yet being met with such vitriol and suggestion that we’re only allowed to feel these things if we conform to certain ideals isn’t going to encourage us to put ourselves in that judgemental firing line. Especially when we’re already feeling pretty vulnerable.
Funnily enough, it could be argued that those suggesting ‘privileged’ people can’t struggle are actually the privileged because they have never felt that struggle – that’s a wormhole I’ll avoid for today.
The problem is, these struggles that can come with being a new mum really don’t give a shit whether you’re rich or poor; whether your partner helps out in the night; what your job title is or what car you drive.
The wave of conflicting emotions also make us feel like we can’t talk about it, we have a lovely baby – we really shouldn’t complain. After all there are people out there who can’t have children, who have terminal illness, who are going through a lot worse than me.
Yes there are but that doesn’t make your struggle any less important to you, it is most unhelpful to head down the path of competitive sadness.
How many times have we seen a new mum and asked
“Are you OK?”
Only to be told how baby is sleeping well, or baby has a touch of colic, or baby is coming along so well.
We need to persist with this line of questioning
“Yes, I’m glad baby is fine but are YOU OK?”
Whether we are in the public eye, rich or poor. We should never be almost reduced to tears because someone bothered to as us the simplest question – Are you OK?
Although I have written this inspired by the struggle of a new mum, I really think as a rule we should be asking everyone whether they’re OK a lot more than we do. More importantly, we should mean it when we ask, really listen to what someone has to say, and be willing to be open and honest with others when sincerely asked the same. We shouldn’t disregard anyone’s struggle because they have more money than us or because we’ve survived tougher situations than them.
Life isn’t a competition and it takes very little to be a decent person.