I've absolutely no doubt that I annoy the hell out of some, most or maybe even all of the people in my life... but then I've come to accept (long ago) that I'm never going to be perfect.
Funnily enough, sometimes people think I am (these are obviously very strange people with a limited knowledge of my life). Not perfect, perhaps, but doing really well, or looking well, or coping well - whatever it is they happen to see me doing.
But I'm not really.
Like most of us, I'm a mess - and sometimes I'm a complete and utter disaster.
Admitting that, and admitting that perfection is a dream I will never realise, is quite liberating. Which is why I sometimes get annoyed when some smug internet mother feels it's OK to force her views on another mum online.
People with one, or perhaps two, children do know about parenting - of course they do. But I don't think any of us can see each other's lives in context. I am really aware of certain things I should be "doing something" about - for example, the boys still have dummies (just turned 3), Lily still has a nappy most nights (she's 5 and we've tried, but it's a LONG STORY). But the fact of the matter is, I'm exhausted, and coping... just. My children are happy and healthy. I am aware of the milestones I feel "behind" at, but also realistic - I'm going to pop another baby out any day... let's get one bridge crossed at a time.
As for the 'incident' online, I'd asked an innocuous question about induction - I was considering asking my doc for one, as it's very hard to get suitable childcare for my little ones, being so young and so far from family. I got told that it would be better for 'baby' if I let the pregnancy stay its course and just had a "range of people" (paid and unpaid) on standby.
Of course it would!
It would also be useful to have a maternity nurse, chef, cleaner, several nannies and a fairy godmother. However, I don't live in the same country as my family, and although we have friends who can help, they have their own lives and issues. It feels like a very unstable situation not knowing quite how it's all going to go.
Ray's sister is coming for two weeks when I'm 38 weeks gone. So whilst I may even pop beforehand, it would be nice to have a fixed date during this time when I know my other little ones will be properly covered and cared for by someone who is there all the time, and that we can do the hour long drive to the hospital as soon as things start to happen.
It wasn't the "advice" that upset me, it was the complete and utter misunderstanding of my circumstances, and the fact this woman felt she could dish it out with no knowledge of my life at all. And of course, she touched a nerve. I don't want to do anything to the detriment of my baby; but neither do I want to give birth on my own and nor do I want my children to be disrupted or upset more than is necessary.
It's easy to sit in our ivory towers and judge; but we none of us know the "full story" of the lives of others. And in my experience, most mums are full enough of self-criticism - they don't need yours heaped on top of it.
So here I am. Hands up. Admit it. I am not and never will be perfect.
I am simply a tired mummy, stretched to the limit, and doing her best.
That said, if perfection was measured in love alone, then my children would have it in bucket-loads.