Super human

01-06-2016 Blog

Anna Whitehouse, aka Mother Pukka, photographed with daughter Mae "The Urchin" in Hackney.

Editor’s note: Events and circumstances mentioned within this post are not current. @mrsmorganallen has since changed her handle to @morgan.e.allen

A woman @mrsmorganallen asked last night on a comment, ‘are you OK? You don’t seem your usual self lately.’ It’s a little strange and somewhat unnerving how it’s possible to pick up vibes through the Internet. I don’t even know what the Internet is made of (wires? Mice pedalling away underground? Mark Zuckerberg clones telepathically working out how intrigued I’d be if an Accutane for Acne sale popped up in a BBC iPlayer ad break.)

But it’s not made of emotions and stuff. For all the weeping emojis and virtual hugs that can be administered, it’s just pixels; it’s technically, not emotionally intelligent.

But Morgan (we’ll throw in her offline human name for good measure) was right. I’m attempting to build a brand on laughing through the madness; on parenting the shit out of life. Perhaps you sell rainbow-hued baby gros (@lilcubs), are pioneering an eco-loving blogging empire (@mamalinauk) or managed to pair up some rogue socks today (@brilliantlyordinary?).

I dance by my dishwasher with the smell of congealed Ketchup in the air in the hope of raising a flicker of a smile to a breastfeeding mum at 3am whose mastitis-addled left boob has packed up and whose undercarriage is an utter, utter shambles.

I started Mother Pukka because I was in a complete maternal pickle back then and just needed a bit of light relief from the parental storm, not a stream of consciousness on the merits of an Aveeno bottle teat.

But I also founded it on honesty. If you squint a little and oversee the irksome posing by brightly-hued walls, the common thread is life in the parental lane. It’s about requests for the blue bowl, then for the green bowl, only to have both bowls batted away in a plum tomato-faced rage, leaving a slurry of sludgy Cheerios slipping off the kitchen table and onto the floor. A floor that has seen it all before.

I am not my usual self – I don’t think any of us are 24-7, 365 days of the year. That would be creepy; like Jim Carey’s character off The Truman Show creepy. Whatever pressure you feel to trudge on and prove yourself, your worth, how Snap Chatty you are – all the while ignoring the fact everyone around you seems to be doing pioneering things for womankind and you’re getting left behind in a dusty, saggy-boobed cloud with the hum of Homes under the Hammer in the background and a mild bout of cystitis – sometimes you’ve got to just stop. For a minute, an hour, an episode of Escape to the Country.

Sometimes it takes a stranger to make you do so.

I won’t beat around this ever-unruly bush, I recently had a miscarriage. In attention-seeking terms – and I must admit to being a glutton at times – it’s no big deal. Shit happens. I’ve spouted enough on the subject and really should heed some of my own very well intentioned – although re-reading it slightly off-the-mark – advice.

We had three unviable pregnancies (as the officials peg it) before having my daughter and I think I just assumed we’d had our run of procreational dysfunction so this time would be different. It’s no different. Like a dodgy prawn in a vindaloo, it’s the same shit, different takeaway.

If anything, it’s magnified now I live with a pint-sized tsunami of a human; a force I love more than myself – a truly surprising revelation. The physicality of what’s been lost is far starker with my daughter nonsensically chirping on about seeing Aunty Daz (Kaz – no idea where Daz came from) and why she likes parrots (not penguins) at the kitchen table.

But my point is not to bewail my petulant womb and unburden the weight of losing a child. It’s more to say that I should have stopped the all-singing, all-dancing, emoji-embellished digital show when I was bleeding so heavily I needed to double-up on the Always Ultra.

Whether sleepless night-induced pneumatic eye twitches or a creeping emotional darkness, it’s not just about putting your phone down and digitally switching off; it’s more than that. It’s about giving yourself a break before you actually break. It’s about being honest and accepting that bag of digital Wotsits (or pickled onion Monster Munch if you’re Molly Gunn, founder of Selfish Mother) when offered up.

The Internet is a strange beast – it’s not somewhere I’d seek solace when the chips are down. It’s somewhere that I’ll share words but refrain from sharing too many moments for fear of actually missing the moment. But I do feel increasingly that Instagram has more heart than any other bit of the Internet.

It’s a place where @mrsmorganallen actually becomes Morgan.

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