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? 


  1. Who said you have to like playing games with your kids? Not everyone likes the same things. I played more games with my eldest, as you do, but the novelty quickly wore very thin. However, I found other things that I did enjoy doing with my kids, like music or reading or drawing, and I like to think that made up for it. There will always be things you don't enjoy doing with your kids, and sometimes we have to force ourselves to do them. Sometimes, I've made myself do something I don't enjoy, just to please my child and show them how precious they are to me. But it's not something I do regularly or I'd resent it. Instead, I think it's more important to find something that you BOTH enjoy. That's not always as easy as it sounds, especially if and your child are very different people, but if you both enjoy it, it's not a chore for either of you. And sometimes, it is only ONE thing you might have in common together, particularly as they grow and change. Having that one thing to do together has helped beyond belief at times—it's been a life raft, to be able to say, Hey, let's go do this today. It's been something to maintain contact during troubled periods when you might feel as if you're drifting apart, e.g., the teenage years. It's nice to have something that you can do with that child that you both enjoy and keeps you together.

    1. Such wise words Louise, and I thin you make such a good point about finding that *one* thing that will sustain your relationship into teenage years and beyond. Luckily for me, The Mop and I share a love of eating food, so we will be that mother-and-daughter team constantly out breakfasting together... sooo much better than playing imaginary role play :o)

  2. Great post, completely agree. I think parenting is just so personal, it takes so much from you emotionally, physically and mentally, that you feel like a complete expert within weeks. And you developed a specific set of boundaries in your head which you have to adhere to or you'll go crazy. Then you find other parents that justify your boundaries and you feel much better. Then you go online and find more people to add to the herd and then you start a facebook group so you can all bang on endlessly about your own opinions and theories. And if someone were to challenge those ideas or step outside the box, the herd would trample them down because it's all too scary to imagine you've spent the last few years of your life, 24/7, with the wrong boundaries.

    Ps. Are you twitter? I wanted to tweet your post :)

    1. Thanks Lani, it's such a good point. So much of parenting is making educated guess that we're doing it right, it's easy to be fearful we're screwing it all up! I am not personally on twitter but please feel free to share this post or others on your account or blog/FB.. cheers, Shannon

  3. I just finished a weekend alone with my three boys as my husband was away for work. Not going to lie - it was a long, hard weekend filled with really early mornings, hockey arenas, gyms, and of course being asked to play games or with toys I didn't want to. I love my kids, I adore my kids. But after a weekend of little sleep, skipped meals and stress of trying to make sure three kids are where they are supposed to be, I might not be the most positive mom. And your blog reminds me that it's okay. Today is a day I find it hard to be a mom (never regret having my kids but there are days when I wish someone else could take over as mom) but I know that by the end of next weekend, I will be thinking that my kids mean everything and more to me. And your words means that it's okay that I feel both, express both. it's hard enough being a mom without a bunch of meanies poking sticks.

    Your blogs always make me laugh and often are the saving grace in reminding me why I love being a mom, even while imaginary play could be used as a successful form of torture.


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