Like many teachers in inner-city schools, I am definitely the owner of an over-developed-do-gooder-bone. For years I had thought that the only way to keep it exercised was to work with children from challenging backgrounds, and give them the investment and energy that was lacking in their life from any other source. With the arrival of my own children, however, I just didn’t have enough of anything to go round. And so it was that the work that had meant so much to me for so many years, had to go.
Recently, however, I have realised that what I am now missing in my life was that kick I had always got from “making a difference”. Like the dad of a newborn (months old?) baby, the bone was itching from under-use and making me twitchy and uncertain.
At the same time I was becoming increasingly aware of how charities and individuals were using social media to promote their various causes and campaigns. From Mother_Pukka‘s #flexappeal campaign questioning the value traditional employment places on face-time in the office, to The World Wide Tribe‘s heartbreaking insights into the plight of refugees in camps across Europe, social media was being used as a powerful tool for change, for good.
And it has made me start to wonder. These days, unlike the time I wrote a post called So not Insta-Cool , I am no longer the new girl in the school playground. For some reason I find impossible to fathom, over 2000 people have now joined me for my inane daily ramblings about motherhood, and photos of questionable quality. While in the world of Kylie Jenner and Zoella, this makes me less drop, and more atom-in-the-ocean, I have realised that I too can still do some GOOD with it, right?
Essentially, I have no plan, nowhere solid to go with this blog and Instagram thang, no idea what I’m doing. I have no business to promote, no product to plug, no book to sell, so what the chuff is the point?
Well, the point for me is that three years ago I was starting to emerge from the dark depths of early motherhood. The splash-down of The Eldest had razed the person-formerly-known-as-Nicola to the ground and it was the greatest physical and psychological challenge I have ever faced to breathe her back to life. But I did. And I’m here, stronger and more secure in my own skin than ever before.
But others might not be. Every day new women make the transformational leap into motherhood and not everyone will find it a smooth transition. Some will be fine and will love every minute. Others will struggle at first but ultimately find their own way. But still others will sit at home, neck-deep in a dark place while above the tide-line they present a controlled mask of calm and composure.
Focused on disguising the heavy despondency that sucks all light and joy out of life, they might not even know that there are people out there to whom they can turn for support, understanding and advice. I didn’t know, and the thought that other women might not either leaves a tightness in my chest and a hollow ache in my heart – I never want anyone to feel how I did.
So here I am. Explaining myself to you on the day I will throw myself into hosting an Instagram auction called #itsoknottobeok. The proceeds of the auction (and associated raffle) will all go to PANDAS Foundation, an amazing charity who work with families suffering the effects of pre and post natal depression.
Social media quite rightly has it detractors. It gives you the feeling that you are building connections and a community in a way that is not bound by geography or time zone, but meanwhile, the people right in front of you struggle to get your attention, or even your eye contact. This said however, rightly or wrongly, cringingly or not, in the last six months, Instagram has brought me inspiration, community and support at a time in my life when the sands beneath my feet were shifting and shaping into a landscape that I didn’t recognise. It has also opened my eyes to the world of possibility that there is out there.
In essence, I have realised that there is a very real possibility that little-old-lopsided-me, being pulled off-centre by the weight of my over-sized-do-gooder-bone, can DO something that will help someone. So please excuse me while I toot on my own trumpet, take this opportunity and use it as a stage to sing as loudly as I can to all the mums out there that you can do this, you are enough, but in the meantime, while you figure things out, it is ok not to be ok.
There are people here to listen, to help, to support – you are not alone.
If you are interested in finding out more about the auction, then please head over to my Instagram feed, the link to which you can find on the top left of this page on a computer, or by clicking on the Menu icon in the top left corner of your screen if you are viewing this on your phone.
To find out more about PANDAS Foundation, then click here.
The auction will run from Monday 15th August 2016 until Sunday 21st August 2016, and will be followed by a raffle which will be open for one week.