Ever been out in public and done something a little cringe worthy you wished you hadn’t? There are plenty of times I wish I’d saved my indiscretions for behind closed doors.
Like the time I dropped the f-bomb at the park in front of my little ones while they fought over who would get to go down the slide first. Or when I burped in the food court after scoffing my lunch because I knew the kids were losing their shit and if I didn’t inhale my food I would have to go without.
Sitting at a kid’s cafe last school holidays I had the most refreshing experience; one that reminded me I wasn’t alone in this sometimes all consuming role of being a mother.
Although fleeting, this brief moment managed to turn a pretty shit morning around. I was watching my offspring bounce around the equipment when this woman caught my attention. She was chasing after her toddler who thought it would be funny to knock as many handbags off the seats as he could before being restrained.
This woman was clearly exhausted after trying to reason with a two-year-old, which is basically impossible feat right? As she bent down to pick up her child she shrieked through gritted teeth “come here you little turd”. I laughed so hard I almost choked on my latte.
Shortly after she turned around to check if anyone had seen. Like a good peer I quickly turned away and pretended I was looking for my son, but secretly I wanted to high five this woman for capturing motherhood at its rawest.
I contemplated offering my condolences on what a rough day she, I, and clearly most of the other mums at the café were having (if the looks of exhaustion and general ‘over it’ vibe were anything to go by), but I just sat back and embraced it.
So many times throughout the day my little ones push my buttons. Do you find it as hard as I do to control your urges to scream back at them, stamp your feet, or throw dinner on the floor because they hate what you’ve cooked (again)?!
Unfortunately, I let a curse slip more often than I should. It feels so good at the time but only adds to the guilt file I feel compelled to go through every night when I’m in bed. Damn that mumma guilt file.
This lady got caught up in the moment and forgot her ‘responsible mum’ filter. IT. WAS. PRICELESS.
Having to put on a brave front is hard work and sometimes near impossible. Children are such beautiful creatures who don’t have inhibitions and filters. Their honesty and bullshit detector are top notch, so why when we become parents do we feel obligated to be brave and composed all the time?
I’m not saying we should go around cursing at our darling little spawn. But I think we should cut ourselves some slack if we’re feeling a little overwhelmed. I try to be a strong, independent and capable parent but it just doesn’t happen all the time.
Some days I try really hard but just can’t seem to be in sync with life and it feels like I’m drowning in my to do list. Other days I put in f#$k all effort, but things run like clockwork. It varies and I’m ok with that.
But I’m not ok with having to pretend things are easy when I’m having a hard day. And I don’t think this gives other women and men a realistic impression of what motherhood is like. I also don’t believe it should signify weakness or failure just because you’re having a shitty moment.
I want to raise my imaginary glass to that wonderfully honest and slightly disheveled woman and mother I saw in that cafe.
If I could say one thing to her, I would say thank you.
Thank you for showing me I am not the only one to let a profanity slip.
Thank you for not being perfect.
And thank you for making me feel less alone in what can sometimes be such an isolating job.
Here’s to all you beautiful women out there who have forgotten your ‘mum filter’. I hope you embrace your humanness and realise it’s ok not to be perfect. Heck, none of us really are unless you are on Instagram.
Cheers for now.
Your humbled friend and parenting peer,
NOTE: There have been some great studies on the unrealistic expectations of mothers in today’s society.
To read more check out these research papers:
- Lazarus, K. & Rossouw, P. J. (2015). Mother’s expectations of parenthood: The impact of pre- natal expectations on self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and stress post birth. International Journal of Neuropsychotherapy, 3(2), 102–123. doi: 10.12744/ijnpt.2015.0102-0123 https://www.thescienceofpsychotherapy.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/IJNPT_Vol3_issue2pp102-123.pdf
- Harrison, V., Moore, D. & Lazard, L. Supporting perinatal anxiety in the digital age; a qualitative exploration of stressors and support strategies. BMC Pregnancy Childbirth20, 363 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12884-020-02990-0 https://rdcu.be/cpncr