Mom’s viral post points out the “unseen” work of motherhood — and how much it hurts to be left out of the fun
Brandy Ferner of the blog Adult Conversation shared a blurred photo of a family out enjoying a birthday celebration. She posted the pic to make a point about the lone figure on the left, wearing pink. “I’m not trying to put this specific family on blast, but I am trying to shine a light on these little moments of motherhood that can add up to feeling isolated and resentful, and this one captures it perfectly,” she says.
The thing she was setting out to capture? The “un-seen” work of motherhood that often means us moms are totally left out of the party. Literally.
“While at lunch yesterday, I watched this mom entertain her baby with a balloon, with walking around, with touching the art on the wall, etc. (we’ve all been there) the entire time her family enjoyed their birthday celebration with food and drinks and lively conversation. No one stepped in to let HER enjoy being part of the group,” Ferner writes.
She calls the photo “an accurate visual of the constant, UNSEEN care-taking of motherhood many moms do that leave us out of the group.”
And ain’t that the truth. I can’t even count how many times I was that figure in pink when my (2 under 2) kids were little. A good five years straight of family parties were spent doing just this — occupying my kiddos so everyone else can enjoy the fun. All the while, no one was terribly concerned with my fun. Which is exactly what Ferner’s pointing out.
“Either no one noticed the subtle work she was doing, or no one wanted to give up their enjoyment to let her have a taste of it too. I considered offering to hold her baby so she could rejoin her family for a bit, but I knew that was gonna be weird,” she writes.
Ferner touches on how instances like this are undoubtedly behind some cases of postpartum depression and the resentment moms feel when they’re not helped — or appreciated. “We don’t just need better diagnosis and doctors to help new moms – we need our families and friends to notice us, and to help bring us back to the table,” she writes.
And of course, Ferner was moved by what she saw because like most of us, she experienced too — and vowed to never forget how it felt. “..I remember writing in a journal that I never wanted to forget how isolating it felt at dinners and parties to be walking a baby around while everyone sips on wine and tickles the baby’s feet as I pass them instead of offering to help me eat without a human on me,” she shares. “I never wanted to forget it because I knew that ‘Gramnesia’ would probably erase it from my brain. I wrote it down so I would remember to help my then grown-up kids and spouses in this department – especially the moms.”
We’ve literally all witnessed scenes like this. We’ve all been the mom in scenes like this. My kids are older now so my baby-tending days are over, but every week at my son’s basketball games, I watch a mom holding her baby girl as her son plays. She keeps that baby entertained and happy the whole time. The grandparents are often there. The father is always there. Everyone’s happily watching the game without distraction while this mom quietly feeds the baby Puffs or gives her a bottle. Jostles the infant on her knee to keep her calm. Rolls her back and forth in the stroller to hopefully get her to drift off. No one ever helps her. I have wanted to step in so many times but like Ferner notes, it feels a little weird doing that as a stranger.
But the feeling is so real. Because we’ve all been there.
Ferner tells Scary Mommy that the huge reaction to her post confirmed just that. “I had no idea it would resonate THIS much with people – it was just a quick post – but the response just shows how prevalent it is,” she says.
In the end, she just wanted to shine a light on this sad reality.
“Even if they can’t understand it because they haven’t lived it, this picture perfectly illustrates the divide that happens when no one steps in.”