Family life: Mum rejects social media perfection for mayhem

Family life: Mum rejects social media perfection for mayhem
Jess with her five children and two dogsFamily photo

Have you ever seen a photo of someone else’s family on social media that left you feeling inadequate?

Tired of seeing picture-perfect portrayals of motherhood, mum-of-five Jessica Hymus-Gant started sharing not just the good but also the “bad and the really grotty” mayhem that is her everyday family life.

“We are bombarded on a daily basis by ‘everybody’s perfect’… but comparison is the thief of joy,” said Jess, from Rhyl in Denbighshire.

“There’s so much pressure to try and be perfect and we’re not – we get it wrong,” she said.

“I think it’s really important to have people that kind of say what everyone else is experiencing.”

Jess’s social media posts, usually written while up at night feeding her youngest, started getting some attention.

Jess

Family photo

Friends would get in touch to say how amusing they found her stories and encouraged her to consider writing something longer.

Four years later she has turned her anecdotes and musings into a book, Moments in Mummydom.

It documents everyday moments, from juggling packed lunches, hunting down missing school jumpers to the constant treadmill of sports days and school trips.

She can be in “full rant mode on the way to school” and “the mad woman, hot-tailing it through the school gates” at pick-up.

Then there’s the time one of her children mixed up the words pigeon and pedestrian and told her church group mummy had “hit a pedestrian and kept on driving”.

Another time she gets caught short when hill walking and with her trousers still around her ankles overhears one of her children tell a passer-by that “mummy is off having a wee”.

There are puddles of dog wee to clean up and calls from the school asking what they can do to help her get her children to school on time.

Lunch is frequently eaten standing at the kitchen counter. A day off from her job at a social justice charity sees her clock up 10 miles (16km) doing household chores.

Jess, 48, lives at home with her funeral director husband Leigh, 58, their five children aged 16, 15, 12, nine and four, as well as two dogs and a cat.

She also has four grown-up stepsons aged 30, 28, 26 and 23.

A year ago she joined a writing course and began work on her book.

Jess at her book launch

Family photo

The book opens with her aged 44 and juggling work and her four young children while grieving for her mother and experiencing what she believes is the start of the menopause – brain-fog, tiredness and intermittent periods.

She decided to rule out pregnancy, hiding a pregnancy test in her shopping basket under the cheese before life throws her a curveball – baby number five is on the way.

Their “happy surprise” arrives, but then the Covid pandemic hits.

In lockdown she finds herself sleep deprived from caring for a new-born baby home-schooling four children in Welsh – she describes her Welsh as “not great”, while her husband, a key-worker, continues working.

Jess' five children

Family photo

“I went stir crazy,” said Jess. “That that year was really quite isolating… a whole year of not really speaking to an adult,” she said.

“I really had to allow myself some slack.”

It was quite the contrast from what she was seeing on social media.

“I’d look at certain celebrities who’ve got like white decor in the house, I’m like, ‘who would choose white? I’ve gone for the brownest brown so that it hides the dirt,” she said.

“Everyone’s comparing all the time and it’s so easy to kind of go on a bit of a guilt fest that you haven’t got this pristine home.”

Now that her warts-and-all experience of motherhood is available to anyone to read, what does she hope people take from it?

“Just for people to read it and think, ‘do you know what, thank goodness I’m not the only one’.”

Source: bbc.co.uk

By David Ryckman