Judgmental mum fail

I’ve always prided myself on having a “live and let live” attitude. Until someone does something which I find extremely annoying / questionable / offensive. And then “let live” goes out the window and I decide everyone should live along my code of life. Because I am always right, clearly.

When I became a mum I was shocked at how this attitude took itself to the next level. Mums who let their babies cry in the night – why? Mums who didn’t choose Baby-led Weaning – why not? Mums who were all competitive about their baby’s milestones – what’s the point?

And then I took a step back and realised I was being a bit of an idiot, actually.

And that’s when it hit me. I was only doing what lots of other people I knew did. I was going off and judging people for the choices they were making in their life. Choices that had absolutely nothing to do with me. Choices which I really shouldn’t give two farts about.

You haven’t experienced this kind of choice judging until you have a child. Other parents are the harshest critics. Everyone has an opinion about the best way to “parent” – which is, of course, their own way.

It was around the time I started working under contracted hours that I fell, yet again, to Judgmental Mum Syndrome. But this time, I was the victim of it. I found myself defending my decision to return to full time work, explaining my early hours which meant I was still getting time with my child, talking away questions about the decision being a right or a wrong one. Even though the people I was explaining myself to really had nothing to do with my life.

The thing is, it wasn’t their judgments I was trying to quell. It was my own. I was answering my own Judgemental Mum Voice, inside my own head.

It happened again yesterday.

I decided I couldn’t be bothered to cook last night. Being up since 3.30am and having little in the fridge can do that to you. We chose to make the most of the sunshine and took an impromptu visit to our local pub. We sat by the canal and talked about the food and drinks we would order. I felt relaxed for about 5 minutes.

It was then that I became aware of a couple sitting nearby. As my non-toddling toddler crawled around on the floor next to us, attempting to eat a stale potato from an old potato salad, washed down with the odd cigarette end, I started to feel on edge. I made a big fuss of stopping her eating the stray tasty morsels and announced, in my loudest and most cheery mum voice, “Not that darling. That’s not for you!” before bouncing her up and down on my lap.

I was a GOOD mum! I was PROACTIVE! I was IN CONTROL! See everyone?

But it got worse when the (self-proclaimed) Northern Love Machine got back from the bar. He brought with him a cold glass of delicious white wine. But, at the same time as thanking him under my breath, I loudly berated him for buying wine. Wine?! With Alcohol?! But it’s not even 5.30pm! All the while I was pointing my voice in the direction of the couple nearby, peering at us over the top of their menus.

And when it came to order the food, I told the NLM to ask for “mash” instead of “chips” with the child’s meal. Because, of course, you can’t give a 21 month old chips. Of course not. That would be BAD parenting.

By this time I was exhausted. The couple were still looking at us. I was on edge. I was at the epicentre of Judgmental Mum Syndrome, in the thick of the hot heat of judging eyes and judging tongues.

And then I looked around.

And I noticed at least seven other families like us. Each mother was equally hot and flustered. Each mother was drinking an equally large glass of wine, berating their husband for buying them an alcoholic drink, as they greedily swigged down the delicious cold nectar. Each mother was peeking over their shoulder as they surreptitiously fed chips under the table to their hungry children.

Each mother was just like me. Battling their inner Judgmental Mum Voice. Thinking that everyone was looking at them and not at the family sitting opposite.

So I thought, “Sod it”. And I drank my wine.

And, blimey, it tasted good.

Yes. I give my daughter Fruit Shoots. BAD MOTHER.

***

If you enjoyed this post in any way, or also like a glass of wine – or even a Fruit Shoot –  perhaps you might consider nominating me for a MAD Blog Award or voting for me in The Brilliance in Blogging Awards, for which I’m shortlisted in the Lit category.  Just a thought.

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30 Comments

Filed under Being a mum

30 responses to “Judgmental mum fail

  1. Do as you like, you’ve only got yourself to please. Drink the wine and make yourself happy, let them stare at a happy mummy instead of a panicking one.

    (I give the toddler chips.. Shh 😉

  2. I stopped caring a long time ago. A trip out for tea is a treat anyway so I don’t see anything wrong with chips as I don’t make chips at home. I make potato wedges in the oven but even then, not every week, so if we’re out, why can’t they eat chips?

    I’ve written before about judging others. My last one was back in November which meditated on the saying “There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, but a million ways to be a good one”. Truly bad parents do appalling things to their children so by that token, everyone else is a GOOD parent. Whatever choices they make.

  3. Ruth

    She’s stealing your stamps! Watch out for that one.

  4. A lot of the mums at our school rush to the pub as soon as school’s out and start on wine and lager while their kids straddle the waste bins in the car park. Believe me afternoon drinking is quite the done thing. How else do you survive the tedium of toddler rearing!

  5. Found myself laughing out loud reading your hilarious tale! I’ve not only got the T shirt on this subject, I must have the box set!!

    Just brilliant, wait to you have to decide what school, what they got in their GCSE’s, A levels or whether you allow your child an alcoholic drink …. My advise? Keep on drinking the wine, you’ll need it oh, and by the way mine, prefer beer to wine which frankly is just as well!

  6. Nothing wrong with fruits shoots – keep drinking, you are keeping my husband in a job!
    Honestly, I bet that couple were really thinking “Wow, look at her, managing to keep tabs on a little one whilst still being able to relax with a glass of wine!”

  7. I love this post, the perfect tonic to get me through today. I am my harshest critic with most things much less being a new mum. There was this one time when I was out with my son in one hand and the pint of beer in the other hand………

  8. There’s something really cool about catching the eye of another Mum in situations like this, you don’t need to speak, you just look at one another and you *know* – I love that.

    Can’t believe you give your daughter Fruit Shoots though, you wicked wicked woman ….. reminded me of this funny article by Jo http://slummysinglemummy.wordpress.com/2011/02/25/the-one-issue-that-divides-all-parents/

  9. plus2point4

    It’s amazing how we feel we have to explain ourselves for having a few hours to enjoy time in the pub.Your an adult and aren’t expected to drink water and the odd fruit shoot isn’t going to send Frog in a whirlwind of bad behaviour.I don’t work, so I fill my time cleaning, cooking and having fun my with 4 yo when she’s not at pre-school.And I feel like I’m a bad mother too.At least I’m not sat watching Jeremy Kyle I suppose.I’m on Twitter and Facebook instead 😉

  10. I have NEVER EVER come across another blogger who admits to Fruit Shoots! I feel a sisterhood.

    Fear not, by the time your child is 3 or 4 you literally won’t give a toss about anything anymore. :0)

  11. LOVE the conclusion to this post! And, YES! Not related to parenting but related in other theme, since getting my head shaved, I’ve had to face the question, “Am I really wearing a wig to work because I’m afraid of what they’ll say? Or because I’m afraid of the image I’ll be presenting?” Reluctantly, after the innocent question of a coworker, I was faced with the truth it was (mostly) the latter. Which is why my wig is now resting on a ginormous candle instead of my head. 🙂

  12. Have added my vote for you – good luck with it. x

  13. LOL that’s the spirit. Not all the time do I have courage to respond that way though, lol. Most times I open my mouth and its like my own mother is speaking, when I correct his challenging behaviour. OR its the insecurity that comes with knowing my son does not look like me so to avoid anyone asking me if he’s my son as in the early days, I make sure anyone near by nears me refer to myself as his mom. How long before he catches on is anyone’s guess.

  14. My kids are now 11, 13 and 15 and I’m surprised by how nice they are. Especially since I found the ‘look at me, I’m such a good mother’ so exhausting I deliberately went the other way and drew attention to my ‘poor parenting’. I got funny looks once when I looked being rather negligent of my 3 young kids playing rather near a steep edge. I just smiled and said: “Don’t worry, I used to have a lot more kids once!”

  15. granny from the north

    Got a lot of respect for people who have the time and fortitude to pause before (swigging) sorry… sipping wine! love the idea of recklessness in a controlled environment of course!! Enjoy and yes I voted for you because your posts make me either laugh out loud or cry! both emotions make me feel better XX

  16. diaryofapremmymum

    Ha ha.. Love it! I have of course already nominated you in the mads…

  17. Enjoy the sunshine, and sod em all I say – glad you did.

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