FEATURE: The S-Mum - '˜If my posts make a parent feel '˜normal' or better about themselves, good'
In a social media world, where bad days and negative moments can be expertly edited out, there has been a rise in people who want to '˜tell it like it is.'
Newtowncunningham’s Maria Rushe is one of those people - whose refreshing honesty and humour on her ‘The S-Mum blog’ recently won her a prestigious award.
Maria is mum to two daughters, is Head of English in Coláiste Ailigh in Letterkenny, and alongside writing her blog, helps run the family business, Rushe Fitness, with her husband, Emmet.
She is also Director of Letterkenny Musical Society and describes herself as a ‘foodie and fitness fan’ and a ‘pretty optimistic person.’
She’s a busy woman, but her love of writing and desire to reach out to other mothers and fathers across the North West drives her forward.
It is something she does well, as evidenced by her win at the Boots Family Maternity and Infant Awards, where she beat off stiff competition from bloggers across the country to win ‘Best Parenting Blog.’
Speaking to the Journal, Maria revealed she was ‘gobsmacked’ when she was announced as winner.
She said: “I made it to the final last year and honestly expected them to tell me it was a mistake and turn me away at the door. To make the final this year again was incredible. I was among my own favourite bloggers, many of whom have a massive following. When my name was called out, you could have knocked me over with a nappy! It really was the best feeling and it was so wonderful to have my followers’ support. And it’s wonderful to have my writing celebrated.”
Maria had always wanted to write and in 2015, when editing her friend Liam Porter’s book of poetry, she voiced this to him.
He “threw her words” back at her, asking: “What’s stopping you?”
“He was right,” said Maria.
“I always tell my students to write what they know. At the time, I had a three year old daughter. I was a busy Mum, so I started writing about being a Mum. The idea for the S-Mum came from a conversation with another Mum where she joked about not being a Supermum. The S stands for something different in every post; Sobbing Mum, Suncream Mum, Silly Mum, Sh*tty Mum…and sometimes Super!”
Maria told how the blog began as ‘Secrets of S-Mum’ and was anonymous. But, when people began to figure out her identity, it became ‘The S-Mum.’ The blog is now four and Maria has another little girl, “so there’s plenty of inspiration.” On the blog, she calls the girls ‘Mini-Me and Princess’ and her husband is ‘The Him.’ The blog is “mostly based on reality, but sometimes fictional or inspired by conversations.”
On ‘The S-Mum,’ Maria tells of day-to-day life as a mammy, showing both the “highs and the lows.” She stressed how it is important “we don’t fall into the trap of portraying parenthood as 24/7 hell” but it is also “so, so,so,so important” to represent real life, outside the Instagram and social media posts which depict it as “100% perfect.”
She said: “ I think that for years we were bombarded by images on TV and adverts of calm, shiny, polished and smiling Mums who were in control of everything and who made it look easy. And while parenting is indeed wonderful and it’s a gift and it’s something that parents do of course cherish and enjoy, sometimes it is hard. Sometimes, life is difficult. Sometimes, parents are simply tired and tested. Because being a parent is hard. It is absolutely the most difficult job in the world; no training, no handbook and no boss to guide you. The fear and worry and terror that accompanies that joy, is overwhelming for everyone. And that is OK.
“Social Media platforms do still show Instamums; the glossy and edited versions of family life. That will never go away. And there is little wrong with it as long as we can recognise what’s real and what’s not. If you find that a certain account is making you feel any negativity about your parenting, unfollow them. Behind every perfect ‘Instamum’ image is a tantrum or tears or another 32 shots to choose. It’s not real life.
“I show both. I show the highs and joys. But I also show the realities; the fears, the struggles, the tears and the pressures. I include a lot of humour too, which really isn’t hard as my life is a comedy most days. That’s what Mums and Dads enjoy. They see someone else dealing with the daily realities of being a busy parent. If my posts make a parent feel ‘normal’ or better about themselves, good.”
Maria also promotes positive mental health, something around which “great discussions are happening.”
She told how she also personally enjoys how more fathers are becoming vocal about their parenting roles, too.
She said: “For so many years, Dads have been seen as the ‘other’ parent. Everyone’s circumstance is different obviously, but there are many incredible Dads around and they are as much parents as Mums. I like that the notion of Daddy’s ‘babysitting’ is being challenged.”
She added: “The conversation around maternal mental health (and all mental health) is wonderful and must continue. Parents need to be able to say when they’re not OK and to know where to go for help if it’s needed. There are so many wonderful services and supports available.”
Another aspect of parenting is that no two people parent the same and there will always be someone who disagrees with the way you raise your child. But, as Maria said: “People will always judge, but thankfully, their opinion is not a fact.”
She added: “The fact is that if you are doing your best and what you feel is right for your family, that’s good enough. How other people parent is none of your business. Parenting is hard. But it’s also wonderful and rewarding and fun…sometimes”
Maria is currently compiling her favourite ‘The S-Mum’ posts into book form.
She revealed: “It’s called ‘The Mammy Memoirs’ and is based on my tagline ‘Being Mammy, Being Me.’ It very much attempts to bust the ‘InstaMummy’ notions and advocates that fact that while we are Mums, we can and should still be ourselves.”
She concluded: “The Blog will continue as it is. It’s my hobby; one of my creative outlets and it’s therapy for me to write! It’s not my full-time job and so I don’t feel under pressure to please people or companies. I’m also able to fully control what goes onto it. I say what I want, in my own style and if people read, I am grateful. They don’t have to agree. I do collaborations, but only if they fit my family and my followers. I’ll write until I have nothing left to say.”
You can read ‘The S-Mum Blog’ on Facebook or at www.the-smum.com