Mammy blogs help you to know you're not alone.
I have always been a very nosey person. I love knowing other people's business. And I don't just mean their big business, like extra-marital affairs and long-lost children; I love the small details, the mundane minutiae like where they do their shopping, or what shampoo they use.
Since I have become a mother, this nosiness has reached new levels. I want to know what other people are feeding their children, what nappies they use, what teething remedies, whether or not they are happy with their buggy, are they mammy or mummy, do they work or stay at home and so on.
I am not subtle about this curiosity either - I don't have too much time on my hands since I have come back to work so I tend to fire questions at people like bullets, often people I don't know on the street or in the local supermarket.
"You sounded like you were accusing her of stealing" my husband said to me in said supermarket recently, after I complained to him about the snobby woman who wouldn't tell me where she got the toy that hung off the front of her son's buggy. It was an amazing thing. I wanted to buy one for my daughter. "You didn't even say excuse me. You just pointed at her buggy and said in a very abrupt manner: 'Where did you get that?' She's not a snob. She's just a normal woman ignoring a not-normal woman."
Anyway, I can work on my delivery but I don't think I will ever stop asking questions of the mothers that cross my path. And it's not just nosiness that drives me. I need their help. I am a Cork woman living in Dublin. I don’t know anything about schools, or childcare or how other baby stuff works here.
I found Ava's crèche, which both she and I absolutely love, by interrogating the woman who owns the local chemist about where she sends her children. She seemed so nice and normal, and was so kind to me when I bought a breast pump from her as a crazed, hormonal mother of a four-week-old, that I had complete confidence in just copying her. And I started to feel ok about the idea of leaving my baby and going back to work after meeting her.
Now that I am back at work, I have less opportunity to accost mothers on the street so I have been sating my curiosity, and managing my fear that I am doing it all wrong, by reading mammy blogs. There are some wonderful Irish mothers blogging about their experiences and I have become an avid fan of quite a few.
I love Office Mum for the interviews with working mothers, Mind the Baby for the cerebral engagement with issues around motherhood, Bumbles of Rice for her posts about breastfeeding and food in general (she also has a great list of baby books on her site - great for the old Christmas presents) and my new virtual best friends are Ouch My Fanny Hurts and At The Clothes Line. They make me laugh out loud. They make me cry. They make me feel ok about all my flaws and shortcomings.
Motherhood can be isolating. It can be scary. The responsibility of it can sometimes overwhelm me and I lie awake at night fretting on questions like: What if I don't instil enough confidence in the baby and she never fulfils her potential? What if, in my attempt to instil confidence in her, I turn her into a spoiled brat without realising it and no one likes her? Am I selfish because I get lost in my work sometimes and forget about her for hours on end? Should we move back to Cork before she gets a Dublin accent? (OK, the last one doesn’t necessarily keep me awake, but I do think it will be weird to have a child with a different accent to me.)
When I get like this, I go to the mammy blogs. It helps to know you’re not alone.
Yvonne Hogan is editor of Health & Living supplement, free on Monday with the Irish Independent.