Why parenting is different to dancing

by | Aug 29, 2011 | Little Observations, Little Parenting, MOTHERHOOD | 8 comments

Anyone who has read The Little Mumma before will know that I am all about shining a light on motherhood. A glaringly bright, often unflattering light. Because I can't pretend that this gig isn't ugly at times. Or unrewarding. Or boring. Or real. Motherhood is a hard slap of reality right in the kisser.

We all know it's not a baby powder commercial.

In saying that, there are plenty of beautiful moments to rival the most saccharine sweet tv ads. Having a child sets a fire in your heart that never goes out but geez, screaming babies, whingeing toddlers and extreme sleep-deprivation will give snuffing out that flame a red hot go.

I sometimes tell you that my kids are awesome. Because they are.

But I also need to tell you that sometimes I want to shut the front door on them and never come back.

And in between the highest highs and lowest lows are a zillion other emotions and I know that every mother finds themselves on the lower end of the spectrum at least sometimes.

If I tell you things are shitful, I'm not going to wrap the message up with the pretty bow of "Just gee gosh, isn't it all worth it in the end?" You're not an idiot. You know I think it's worth it (I have more than one child after all) but I believe we can just let shit days be shit. We'll come out of them eventually (unless we don't) and the cycle will continue.

I think it's freeing to say point blank, "Today my kids were arseholes and I was an arsehole back and this day sucked. Today that is my truth." In general, I am a sunshine and optimism kind of girl because I do believe in the power of attracting things to your life based on the attitude you choose to operate with. BUT as a fellow mother, I think the greater good is served by my honesty about bad days. When I tell you that my kids ain't perfect and my parenting ain't stellar, the simple act of admitting that frees not only me but maybe other mums, too.

So. I am NOT an advocate for veneer parenting.

But I had a thought recently.

We were at a play centre yesterday and LD pushed another little boy twice before hitting him in the face.

Ummmm, that's my boy?

We took him aside and explained that if that behaviour continued, we would be going home. The message was calm and controlled. It worked.

It hit me then. Parenting is the reverse of dancing. As in, while one should dance like no-one is watching, I propose we parent like EVERYONE is watching. Because I parent better with an audience. I take a deep breath and I act rather than react. My parenting is thoughtful rather than emotional.

When no-one is watching? I am capable of lazy, anger/exhaustion/apathy -driven parenting. Which is not only upsetting for everyone but unlikey to illicit the desired result of better behaviour.

I am still all about total transparency in parenting. Revealing my vulnerability as a mum is important. And I expect I will continue to drop the ball. But a more mindful approach to the way I interact with my kids is as good a place as any to start making a change for the better.  

Hello friends


I’m Angie!  I mum. I write. I wife. My husband would say this is the correct order.  He’s so neeeedy. I live with my family in Melbourne, Australia, where I complain about the weather for 90% of the year – but I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Except maybe in Lake Como, waving to my neighbours George and Amal each morning.

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  1. melbo

    Oh, I’ve been trying this too – thank you for reminding me because you just KNOW I’ll be needing it around here every day, don’t you?

    Once again you have hit the nail on the head. I don’t think any greater good is served by sugar coating things. And for what it’s worth I think many of us appreciate your honesty. That and it’s funny as fuck.

  2. Angie @ The Little Mumma

    Is it a sad indictment on me as a mother that I am only ever truly inspired to lift my game when I fear the judgmental eyes of the world (re: Coles customers) are upon me? Well, yeah! Obviously. But whatever gets you there, man. Right?

  3. MJ

    Love your dancing analogy (or is there a word for the opposite of analogy? Hmm…) I know exactly what you mean about parenting better with an audience. That’s me. Sad, but true. I drop the ball so much more when it’s just us at home. Keep that honesty flowing; it’s a wonderful, inspiring thing to read.

  4. Dani

    Yep heard you loud and clear. Some days you just pray them to be over. And I like the others know what you mean about parenting with an audience, although sad, but very true that is me too. On that note my daughter (she is 4) has been an utter bitch lately, and thank goodness its pre-school day again today and tomorrow, so I may just stay sane for another 2 days :o)

  5. Susan

    The things I have said to my boys on bad days because I know no-one can hear me – it is dreadful! They belong in my bad Mummy parenting book (I’m onto my second book by now). Your analogy is so true and I can’t believe it has never struck me before! And I don’t even have preschoolers anymore, so I don’t know if I can even give you hope that it gets better. It just gets different – still rewarding, and still makes you crazy….thank god for wine.

  6. Rae

    So true, babe. I’ve never thought about it like that – or tried to parent that way either.

    I love it and will try my very best to give this approach a go. I too am often disgusted at the way i speak to my kids at times….

  7. Ladybird

    By the time you get to #3, and that #3 is a JR – well – the shit you do when you don’t have an aduience – becomes the shit you do – full stop. xx

  8. Recovering Supermom

    Very well said. Like others that have commented, I have said things to my kids that I would never want other people to hear me say….and yet, I will often let my exhaustion and emotions take control when in private. Yesterday my son had a VERY difficult day and I began to let my frustration control me at one point. Luckily, though, I had a moment of clarity and thought about what I would say if he were one of my students at school. I then spoke to him and was able to deescalate the situation. It made me think I might need to parent more like I teach. Thank you for your post and keeping it real.


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