Saturday, March 21, 2015

Becoming Public Enemy #1

Have you ever bagged out your boss? Criticised your husband?... or your mother-in-law? 

What about that bitchy mum who parks across two bays at school so no one scratches her precious car? I bet everyone has broadcast a dig at the PM or some other public figure.

Have you ever complained about your kids? Publicly? And how did that work out for you?

How come it is perfectly acceptable – even encouraged -  for us to trash talk other adults but the minute you say anything other than love and bunnies about children you are publicly maligned? 

And god forbid you are a mother who complains about an aspect of parenting: suddenly you are the epitome of evil.

Joffrey Baratheon 2
Bad mothers are as evil as Joffrey,
image from

Last year I blogged about not liking playing with my kids. Rather benign really. I don’t really like playing tennis either but no one really cares about that. I didn’t write about locking them in a cupboard or starving them of food, or beating them when I was angry. I admitted that playing imaginary games with my daughter drove me nuts. I wasn’t the first mother to ever admit this, and I am pretty sure I won’t be the last. 

It was re-posted on mega site Scary Mommy and while there was a collective sigh of relief from hundreds and hundreds of mums admitting they felt the same way, there was a seam of comments from people accusing me of being a bad mother and questioning why I even bothered having kids if I wasn't going to play with them.

Society doesn’t like it when mothers admit truths like this. 

Mothers are meant to remain perfectly happy and grateful for their fortunate position. 

Society trashed British mother Isabella Dutton when she admitted that she didn’t love her children and regretted having them. Admittedly, calling them parasites in the national tabloid where they – and the entire world – could read it, might have been a judgement in error, but she cannot have been the first women to have children to please her husband and then spend the rest of her life wishing she hadn’t.

When US mother Lenore Skenazy let her then nine year old son catch the subway home by himself, she was quickly vilified as America’s worst mom. Why? For publicly admitting that she felt the way we currently parent our kids was stifling them.

Throughout history there have been bad mothers. There have been ambivalent mothers. But it is primarily in recent years with the rise in blogging and greater access for the average person to find a platform that suddenly we are able to talk about things that women have been thinking about for years. Topics that were once considered taboo are finally being talked about – albeit slowly: miscarriage, post-natal depression, gender disappointment. Genuine discussions about difficult topics that people find challenging to talk about and confronting to listen to.

And where we should be celebrating that opportunity to air some of our grievances, it would seem you cannot find a more judgmental crowd than a group of mothers. Every time a woman admits that she is not as fulfilled as she thought she might be, every time someone divulges she perhaps was a better employee than she is a mother - instead of letting her have the opportunity to fess up to what is probably a major source of angst, she is attacked.

Why aren’t parents, and in particular mothers, allowed to admit their flaws? 

What are we afraid of? 
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