Are you a Bad Mum?? I am, and I’m proud of it!!
I went to see the movie Bad Moms with a posse of my Mummy friends last night. It was hilarious and we could totally relate.
Lets face it, motherhood is f%$ing tough!! It’s the toughest gig I’ve had and it’s unpaid and voluntary!! Every phase of motherhood is challenging. The new Mummy phase is full of so many unknowns, crying, cracked nipples, sleep deprivation, vomit, shitty nappies and let’s not even talk about your floppy mummy tummy, v-j-j, and the unspoken conversation between you and your partner……. when are we going to have sex again??
Fast forward a few years to ……
Mum I’m thirsty, Mum can I play on your iPhone, Mum I’m bored, that’s so unfair Mum, Mum can I have a treat, you’re not brushing my hair Mum, Mum I’m hungry, Mum where’s my school hat, are you doing a poo or a wee Mum? You forgot to order me tuckshop Mum…… and more Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum, Mum……. x 10 0000 per day! And to think, there was a point in my life where I couldn’t wait for my babies to start talking!!
Let me tell you a little about my current phase of motherhood. My eldest son Andrew is now 7 and my daughter Cleo is 5. Andrew recently decided that I needed a mothering performance appraisal and reported that I had many epic fails as a mother last week!!
Apparently, I forgot to pack a book in his bag for book swap Friday (it was sitting on his desk at home, but still, it was my fault), I forgot to remind him to take his epi pen off for his 60m sprint at the school athletics carnival. My poor little man sprinted his heart out holding onto his shorts and epi pen, that were half way down his thighs by the end of the race!! I forgot to put bicarb in the cake I was baking so it didn’t rise and tasted like arse!! I forgot to register him for a fun run he wanted to enter, but thankfully, my bestie came to my rescue, pulled a few strings and got him in (thanks Lynners!!) My kids caught me yelling unladylike profanities at a driver who pulled out in front of me, causing me to brake hard so I didn’t hit him!! “Swear Jar Mum!!” Oh, and being a non-routine school week (book week, athletics day, mid-week public holiday) I forgot to do the homework sheet, and come to think of it, we didn’t do ANY readers this week (oops!)
And that was just Andrew’s performance appraisal for me for one week of motherhood. Let’s not ask mini-me Cleo to critique my week, because that would NOT be good for my self esteem!!
Motherhood is tough and I’m a solo parent raising two kids alone. I’m navigating parenting my kids, who on a daily basis, ask questions about their Daddy and why he died; I’m trying to progress my career and launch a series of innovative online healthy living programs for pregnancy and motherhood (a goal I’ve had for the past 10 years but other stuff got in my way); I’ve just finished 6 months of marathon training; I’m trying to be an engaging friend, sister, daughter and work colleague. I’m trying to have a life away from being a Mummy slave so I don’t burn out!! I like to give back as much as possible, and volunteer my time to a couple of things. The concept of paying it forward is very important to me. I’m also learning what it’s like to be back on the single scene…… hmmm, that’s another blog, or at least a wine sesh with my “bad mum” friends 😉
I multi-task to the extreme at times just so I don’t drop any balls. Although it seems I do drop balls from time to time and have epic fails according to my children. So I like to use my alleged epic fails to teach my kids about failure.
After my mothering performance appraisal, Andrew went on to tell me that he watched a performance at school and the message was about fear. So we had a big chat about fear. I told my son that fear is normal. Fear is exciting. Fear? So what!! He turned to me and said, “Mum, that should be our family motto!!” YES!!! OMG, I was so excited to hear him say that and I’ll tell you why…..
For the past 18 months, I’ve tirelessly persisted in helping Andrew develop skills and strategies to work on his fear of failure and negative thoughts. It has been extremely frustrating at times and emotionally draining!!! His brain works differently to mine and it has taken me a long time, and many discussions with teachers, friends, family and therapists to learn how to manage it. Motherhood is a job that we take on with no experience and blindly feel our way and hope that our unconditional motherly love will be enough.
I can remember a day last year that I’d hit my limit of patience and emotional exhaustion dealing with Andrew’s negative thoughts and fear of failure. I was tired, stressed and frustrated and needed to do something to pick myself up and clear my head so I could continue to be strong for my kids. Exercise and fresh air always works for me but I had no one to look after my children. You can feel trapped as a mother sometimes with no escape when you really need it. In desperation, I decided to take my kids to the park so I could run 400s while they played. The kids decided they wanted to run 400s with me too, but of course, it didn’t take long for Andrew to start saying “I can’t do it!” and get upset with himself. ARGHHHH!!!! I don’t have the emotional capacity to deal with this right now!!! I don’t know what it was, but in that moment, I stopped and gave in to the situation. I sat in the middle of the running track, sat both of my kids on my lap and told them this story.
“Kids, it’s totally ok to fail. You won’t be good at everything in life and there will always be someone better than you. You know Mummy isn’t good at everything and I have failed lots of times.”
Of course Andrew said “No you don’t Mum, you’re just saying that!!”
I said, “Ok, here’s a story for you. Once when I was running a half marathon, I shit my pants!!”
Of course the kids fell into fits of laughter, because not only did they hear that Mummy shit her pants, I said the word SHIT!!
I went on to explain, “I was running the half marathon with Vic and I hadn’t trained for it. I thought I could just run like I used to and be ok, but I pushed myself too hard. My guts started to feel squirmy and there were no toilets so I had to run into the bushes, drop my pants and do a number two in the bushes. I did that about 3 times in the race!!”
Kids….. extreme laughter!!
“See, if that isn’t an epic failure, I’m not sure what is?!?!” Andrew have you ever shit your pants from running? No!! So you haven’t had an epic running fail like your mother has. You know what, I’m still here running and trying my best, even though I failed!! It’s totally ok to fail and I do it all the time!! The only way you are failing is by not trying.”
Now, that might be some unorthodox, bad mum parenting, but it was the best story I’ve ever told my kids. Whenever my kids have an epic fail they now say, “at least you haven’t shit your pants like Mum!!”
So am I a bad mum? Yes!! Sometimes I forget to order tuckshop, I occasionally forget homework, sometimes I swear, I’ve taken my kids home in an Uber after having a few drinks with friends, and so much more. However, I look at my smalls and realise that I am raising the most incredible, resilient, well adjusted, emotionally intelligent, loving, happy, funny and well mannered children. Andrew has done a complete 180 now and has positive thoughts, has lost his fear of failure and is eager to try new things. He has made me SO proud. I look back at all the difficult times I’ve had with him, the hard work I’ve put in, all my alleged Mummy fails and realise that if I’m a Bad Mum, I wouldn’t want to be any other way. Motherhood is tough, but the unconditional love we have for our children is all we need to guide us. Love is a limitless resource but physical, mental and emotional energy isn’t. So as long as we prioritise self caring and self nurturing so we remain physically, mentally and emotionally strong for our children and families, unconditional love is all we need to be bad (good) mothers.