I discovered Constance Hall through a facebook friend a fair few months before I got pregnant. My friend had liked an article with a funny title and a snazzy profile picture of this boho chick wearing a flower crown, and I think it was primarily the latter that made me click through and read. It was just one of Hall’s shorter captions about the name of her cat and the name of her baby, Snow, and it made me laugh. I followed her, always eager to follow blogs which I will eventually never get around to actually reading.
But over the next few months, Constance became impossible to ignore on my Instagram and Facebook timeline. Ludicrously honest, hilarious and relatable truths spouted forth and I read every single article, simultaneously peeing my pants laughing and wishing I had the courage to write like that without getting told off by my mum. Even though I had no kids, was not married, and was not Queening my way through life with the self-assurance of a woman who knows she is awesome yet, every single piece resonated.
And then a funny thing happenned; I started reading the comments left by the other women on Hall’s posts. Queens, she calls them (us?). And guess what? They were just as, if not more funny than the original posts. All these women, all ages, from all over the world, more similar than we are different. I hate the mindless scrolling through Facebook that I automatically do, but I would actively seek out Constance’s posts to cheer me up, and feel connected with the sisterhood that is clearly out there.
Constance Hall got so popular on social media and through her blogging that she self-published a book. A raw account of pregnancy, motherhood, love and men. I had to get my hands on it; preferably before Spud comes along. A friend I had newly made down here in Cornwall had a copy, and before she’d even opened it, she lent me Like A Queen.
If you are a new mum, read it.
If you are an old mum, excuse the odd c-bomb and just read it.
If you are in love or over the whole idea of it,
If you are engaged, married or contemplating divorce, I’d say read it.
If you have no time for social media celebrities, lifestyle books or parenting gurus, it’s not that. Read it.
If you have emotions, read it.
I might even make Rob read it. But the amount of times I would snort my tea out my nose with laughter, make him turn the telly down and say ‘Rob listen to this bit!...’ I dont think he needs to because I read 98% of it to him.
Bipolar pregnancy hormones notwithstanding, I laughed and cried the whole way through it. Constance infuses really, really bloody funny stories with poignant, simple philosophies. I’m only at the very beginning of the whole motherhood thing myself obviously, where, 8ish years ago Constance herself was a scared, anxious 24 year old new mum too. She’s a fighter but a lover too, a feminist, but not a preachy ‘men are shit’ bra-burner. She’s been a stay at home and a working mum, been single and depressed, and been happily settled with her partner, the dad of her kids. She’s lead a normal life and somehow made it required reading for all women.
What does that say about us? To me, being pregnant, it seems like you get a lot of gurus and experts telling you either the very best things that may happen or the very worst, that seems to be your only two points of reference. I’m interested in normal. I’m also interested in all the grizzly details that are deemed too únladylike’ to talk about.
What exactly, does labour pain feel like? Is it like intense trapped air? Gas? A cramp? A ache that gets stronger? Stabbing? Slicing? Pulling a muscle over and over? All of the above or something totally different? ‘(The midwife just says, ïts a strong sensation”- not going to fly lady, I need to know everything.)
Also, lets talk about pooping?
How do you poop after giving birth? When can you poop again? Does it hurt? Do many women really poop in labour or do they say that to make you feel better?
How do you do kegels without clenching your butt?
Sex? Contraception after baby? What to do because you feel so so guilty suggesting your long term, monogamous, loving, partner start to wear condoms but actually, how is that worse than messing up your whole mental health month in, month out for years and years amen with the pill?
Or being anxious at the thought that you might be diagnosed with post-natal depression one day because who actually gets to decide whether it’s PND or just general loneliness, change and living in a new place with no real tribe around you, family half the country away and no job or daily routine to stick to?
Being anxious about the thought of losing the closeness of your perfect twosome, your best friend? How will he cope with being shunted for a helpless, boobie sucking, poopy mini-him?
Or is it normal being angry at him before the baby even arrives because you’re scared he hasn’t thought about it all seriously enough? Doesn’t realise how much housework he’s going to have to do, and all the names he suggests are stupid?
Or being angry at him because one day he might accidentally die?
I have a lot of questions.
If you know a friend who has read the book or follows Constance then you know she’s pretty much open to talking about anything. That friend won’t judge, she is, has or will go through it all herself too. This isn’t prissy, perfectionist, rose-tinted motherhood competitiveness about how well we are all coping.
The previous generation (and the one before that and the one before that and way way back etc) would balk at the thought of sharing perceived ‘weaknesses’ and problems. But if this is the new era of feminism; owning imperfections and flaws and wearing leggings that have gone see through with ugg boots because they’re comfy and bitching about men and jobs over too many glasses of wine, and saying yes, I have anxiety and nope, I’m not ashamed of it and understand that sharing the shitty times is better for everyone than boasting about the good times, then hooray for womenkind! Vive la revolution! After all, we’re all in it together. We might as well start to help each other.
If ‘femininity’ can stop being perceived as this delicately precious, effortlessly perfect, completely unflawed (or at least undiscussed) state, and start to be accepted for what I’m learning it to be; grit, knowing when to fight and when to shut up, cleaning the house and not being annoyed when nobody notices, selflessness, being able to handle blood, sweat, tears and basically every other bodily fluid you could think of while holding onto love, and a sense of humour through it all, then maybe we shall see a crown on every head. Hall saw that, and she wrote a book. I urge you to read it.