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Smug mum amnesty – confess your brilliance
Monday, November 2nd, 2009

I was at a riproaring girls€™ night recently, the kind of evening when you can€™t stop laughing or talking, stay up far too late, and wake up with a hangover that takes days to shake off. The girls (and yes, I know we can€™t really call ourselves €˜girls€™ any longer) are all friends who go way back, some of us to the days when we weren€™t even legally allowed hangovers. The rest date to an era when, no matter what we€™d been up to, we€™d be good to go after the holy trinity of Alkaseltzer/carbohydrates/ pint of full fat coke. We€™re now all mothers, so lack of sleep is caused by something quite different – and huge nights out as rare as an unbroken night’s sleep. And instead of chat focusing on boyfriends, a lot of it is about our children. So far, so any other gathering of girls. But what made last week€™s evening stand out, for me anyway, was a shock announcement by one of the mothers (let€™s call her €˜Charlie€™).

Fuelled up by the cocktail of the night, Charlie looked at another mother (and lifelong friend €“ we€™ll call her €˜Becca€™) and said she couldn€™t let it go another second: €˜Becca should stop thinking that she, Charlie, was a bad mum because she gave her children fish fingers for tea most nights€™. Becca looked surprised, and not a little hurt, and admitted that she€™d always felt rather useless compared to Charlie, whose children ate masses of fruit, and seemed to prefer reading to watching TV. On top of which, Becca promised she€™d never noticed the fish fingers.

It turned out that Becca created homemade fish fingers by blitzing stale bread in the foodprocessor to make breadcrumbs. A stray remark on how easy this was had made Charlie feel criticised. Becca admitted feeling a bit smug about her home-cooked food, but confessed to all kinds of other things that made her feel a bad mother, namely plonking the children in front of ‘the Cbeebies nanny’, and (bit more bizarre, this one), not wiping their noses often enough.

Soon we were all chipping in with our tales of smug motherhood. One of the girls was chuffed to bits that their household was television-free. Another felt saintly about having only ever given her children organic vegetables and milk. I personally felt a tad too virtuous about never having shop-bought biscuits in the house (and apparently, this made some of the mothers present feel I clearly had way too much time on my hands if I could make flapjacks all day). On it went, until we moved on to ways we felt less than brilliant, the secret and useless parenting skills that mean we were awful, terrible, world€™s worst mothers. And once we realised that we weren’t the only ones to let the boys’ hair go unbrushed for days at a time, had all sent them to school or nursery knowing they had a temperature, but we had an important meeting/gym appointment, and felt permanently on the verge of losing it when they refused to put their shoes on, we didn’t feel such bad parents after all.

We’re all a mix of good and bad, patient in some ways, fired up in others. And no-one is perfect. What came out of the evening was all of us going home thinking that maybe we weren’t doing such a bad job after all.

So here it is, the smug mum amnesty. Fess up and tell us your best parental skill. And don€™t ever give yourself a hard time, because it’s unlikely that anyone else has even noticed.

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17 Responses to “Smug mum amnesty – confess your brilliance”
  1. Happy Mummy says:

    So which of you owned up to lice and worms? Two battles we have endlessly here.

    I think life if way too short for making one’s own fishfingers.

  2. Jo P says:

    OK, I confess that I’m very proud that my five year old is already good at tennis, and that I’ve taken so much time to teach her and help her learn to hold a racket since she was two. Not that I’m hoping for her to win Wimbledon or anything. Much.

  3. Ooh, great post. Well, I am a TOP parent because I make my own (organic) chicken nuggets and fish fingers. Flea doesn’t watch television, which I’m not sure is “good” but it’s the way we do it, Flea has impeccable manners, she can tell the difference between the Ramones and the Stones, and she goes to bed BRILLIANTLY at 6.30 every night and will sleep for 14 or 15 hours.

    On the flipside, she apparently has “poorly developed pen-holiding skills” because I didn’t do the correct enriching activities in her pre-school years. and, of course, I’m a single parent so she’s basically doomed.

  4. I@m smug that I’m not the least bit smug!

  5. gail says:

    I’ve wracked my brains, but I don’t feel smug about much mother-related. I do admit to huge relief at not giving a toss about competitive parenting. I just do my thing and that is it – don’t compare with others, and actually feel quite sorry for the people who beat themselves up all the time worrying that they are not creating the perfect children/being the perfect mother/wife/employee. I think I lowered my standards years ago and realised perfection is an impossible goal! ha ha.

  6. Wife of bold says:

    I’m with Gail i’m a self confessed Slummy Mummy and proud, although i do make a mean fish pie that the kids actually eat. The fact i’m soo laid back means the girls get to do lots of craft activities which my other mummy friends wouldn’t dream of letting their offspring do in their own pristine homes, but this is purely due to the fact that i’m domestically challenged when it comes to housework so what difference is one more blob of black paint on the wall going to make :)

  7. Slummy Mummy all the way, although I do make my own breaded chicken (can’t buy it here) and actually cook everything from fresh (can’t buy it here otherwise). That isn’t to say they actually eat it. Also, I do make sure they get a LOT of outside time, rain, shine or snow (which it is currently doing). And like Wife of Bold, my housewifery skills are so poor that I don’t notice when more chaos is added. HOWEVER, there is a lot of shouting, some swearing (not proud of that) I could concentrate on them more and a sneaky suspicion I spend too much time reading blogs and not enough playing with them….

  8. angels&urchinsblog says:

    Happy Mummy – as long as the nits and worms aren’t in the fish fingers, homemade or otherwise, what’s the problem?

    Jo P – need company at the final, you only need to ask.

    Sally, Who’s the Mummy – hurrah for top parents everywhere, single or otherwise. The chicken nuggets sound good, too.

    Gail – I like your style!

    Wife of Bold – So now we’ve got future Turner winners to add to the centre court baby. Result. And Jamie Oliver’s fish pie??

    Brit in Bosnia – Snow? Truly? Wipe off that sled. Housewifery skills very over-rated, as is talking quietly all the time. Heck, too much time reading blogs, nooooo – what else would we do during these snow-filled nights? Already established that ironing socks is out of the question.

  9. I love this post. I think it resonates with most Mums and if you’re reading this and it doesn’t, then you really are too smug!

    I look at tiny tots now and watch their tiny feet trying their best to keep up with their parent. I DO feel bad because when my children were that young, I would get impatient or grab them by the hand and say “hurry up” because I had a Uni lecture to get to! I would also give them tinned or packet food.

    Oh well, that time has passed, I make freshly prepared dinners now (well most of the time) and they are beautiful young ladies now. One is a teenager and the other almost.

    I am Slummy Mummy 95% of the time and proud of it too! I am not interested in competitive parenting of any kind (although I am secretly competitive by nature). My daughters do not partake in every activity going, mainly because I can’t be asked to take them. I do make the effort for the ones they are really interested in though.

    Let’s stop beating ourselves up about our shortcomings and celebrate all that we do well instead!

  10. angels&urchinsblog says:

    Thanks Dee. Love that you had children while you were at Uni, and bet you’re reaping the benefits now – sounds as though you’ve got a great career and two great daughters. Bet you’re not a slummy mummy though, and the dinners sound yum!

  11. Pipp says:

    Oh I am smug that both my children say ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’ and Top Ender will always ask how someone is before leaving the adults to a conversation or will ask for fruit instead of sweets! Just please don’t point out that I give the kids way too much TV time, and that the pram could really do with a good clean!

  12. @Pip, I too am smug that both my children, say “Please”, “Thank you” AND “Excuse me please.” I am also smug that they are horrified when they hear people swearing (including me) and that they are fiercely intelligent. Just plese don’t point out that I spend way too much time working and on my PC than interacting with them. Ha ha ha!! My time spent with them is quality, in my defence (ahem).

  13. Writeonmum says:

    Great post! I think the smuggest I’ve felt is when my hard-working eldest (now 15) got a coveted lead part in a her school musical and I overheard a stranger infront of me in the audience rave about my girl’s talent and beauty. Gulp! And this star on the stage was once the toddler that would have such mind-numbing tantrums that I’d have to leave full shopping trolleys in Sainsbury’s through embarrassment and drag her out kicking and screaming while other mums would tsk and give me ‘evils’. Pah – all I can say is her tantrums were all down to her frustrated genius waiting to emerge…fnar fnar.

  14. angels&urchinsblog says:

    Pip, love that your child’s nickname is Top Ender, and great about the five a day. And a dirty pram? I once got into trouble at an airport with mine. It was so full of gunk that it set off one of their probe things.

    Dee – f*** me, they sound brilliant!!

    Writeonmum – gawd, very jealous. Hope to meet her on X-factor soon!

  15. Michelle says:

    Well…they dont have sweets until they are old enough to really know what sweets are…and they are in cloth nappies until…until I can’t get them clean enough…LOL.

    However, they go days without brushing their teeth and hair, weeks without baths and sometimes I wait until DH gets home to change baby’s diaper.

  16. angels&urchinsblog says:

    Michelle – wish I’d done that with sweets. Even the 17-month-old now expects a lolly after we go swimming, and I’m ashamed to think about what it’s doing to his teeth. And I stopped using cloth nappies after baby #1. I will try harder. Hee hee, about hair and teeth, and so glad to hear someone else waits (pretends not to notice, in my case) when a nappy needs changing!

  17. [...] I finally realised that the choice was a simple one. I’ve always been one for the girls. Much as I love family life, there’s still nothing to beat a good night out with great friends, drinking wine and putting the world to right – and possibly having the occasional spat about organic, homemade fish fingers. [...]

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