I am part of an amazing community of supportive, brilliant, strong women. I communicate with them daily on all manner of topics – just in the last 48 hours we have discussed everything from socio-political topics like the plight of asylum seekers and the current state of the education system, to riding prams on escalators. We’ve informed each other of new developments in vaccine production, provided links to interesting news articles and evaluated the requirements for labelling on food products. We’ve covered post natal depression, lamented about the unique challenges of parenting a child with special needs, talked about lady parts and played that highly controversial game ‘Is this a rash on my son’s back and should I be worried?’ We’ve also covered the important topics – Gosling vs. Reynolds, beard or no beard, shirt or no shirt and Magnums vs. Ben and Jerry’s. (For the record the answer is almost unanimously Shirtless Ryan Gosling, slight stubble, holding a magnum.)
This community encapsulates women of all age groups and ethnic backgrounds, occupations and sexual orientation. There are members from all parts of the socioeconomic spectrum and of every political persuasion. Geographically our range is diverse too, despite being called North Shore Mums. I know of members ranging from the central coast to the beaches, to Melbourne and Singapore. We comprise a multitude of belief systems and parenting values, and we discuss them frequently and almost always respectfully.
In the past I have seen the immediate and complete compassion that human beings are capable of in this community. I have seen charity events organised, women who barely know each other reach out and deliver meals to injured or stressed mums, and music compilations and care packages organised to cheer up someone we thought was having a rough time. Most of this happens between Mums that have never previously met.
But better than that, in the last 48 hours in my community I have seen the power of women. How mothers can rally in defence of what they believe to be right. You read on Wednesday about one of our members starting an ‘Indian’ mothers group and I witnessed the hatred directed at my community with disbelief. But the account you may have read missed a number of vital points.
One of our members, a charming and intelligent woman of Indian origin who proudly calls herself Australian, put a call out, (with the permission of our admin), for mums interested in joining her new playgroup. The result was overwhelmingly positive at first. Then one commenter, (and I will definitively say that this is a person who I hold in high regard), questioned the equity of a mothers group which is inherently exclusionary.
I did not agree with her on this occasion, but that’s what we do on North Shore Mums. We discuss issues that are important to mothers. This commenter, let’s call her Sarah, wrote two comments, which were for the most part fairly polite, raising her concerns. What followed was an outpouring of support for the original poster, (let’s call her Priya). Literally hundreds of women from every background supported the new group, and Sarah apologised to Priya and everyone on the post for any upset. Plans were made for a get together for Indian and non-Indians alike to share a curry and wear a sari at a Bollywood picnic. A dance off was discussed. It was entirely cordial, even light-hearted by the end of the thread. In an age where digital media can be vicious and harsh hundreds of women conducted themselves graciously. There was no ‘torrent of abuse’. No insults were hurled. Let me be clear – there was one dissenting voice only, who posted two comments.
When the article was published on Wednesday on Mamamia I stupidly read through some of the comments that followed. I was appalled at the abuse that was directed at my friends, who I respect dearly whether we agree on a particular topic or not. ‘White North Shore bitches’ was one that came to mind. ‘Living in a bubble’. ‘Rich and have no idea.’
We are not all rich, white or opinionated. We are a community of mothers sharing ideas and for the most part supporting each other in a very real way. Don’t judge us because we belong to this community. The founder of North Shore Mums, the women involved in the particular disagreement and all the moderators are all wonderful human beings. Motherhood can be scary and isolating and we are all doing our best to do the best for our children, our family, ourselves and our community at large. This group is a wonderful platform for mothers to do just that, to make each other’s lives a little bit better. As always, you are welcome to disagree with me, or any one of our community members at any point. But please do so in light of a full factual account, and do it respectfully, without prejudice and without resorting to name calling. Every human being, rich or poor, white or otherwise, deserves respect.