Mother Judger

by | Sep 27, 2011 | Little Parenting, Little Soapbox, MOTHERHOOD | 16 comments

Following on from last night's post about my radio superstar moment, I thought I'd add a few thoughts about the caller who spoke directly after me. If you didn't hear it, this is an edited transcript.

The Nova 100 breakfast team, Hughesy and Kate  (with Ed Kavalee), posed the question, "Is stay-at-home parenting boring?" The tone of the entire show is a humourous one and I rang and responded in kind.

Angie, how would you describe it? It is batshit boring. I have two sons. One's four and one's almost two. And of course, they're the love of my life but if I have to play dinosaurs one more time, I'm gonna kill myself.

How do you cope, Angie? Well, you know, I drink. And I started a blog because   I needed to reach out to other mums and say, "Are you gonna kill yourself, too?" I just didn't want to be alone anymore.

Okay. So I was joking – sort of. The next caller was Lee, diametrically opposed to me, naturally.

What about you, Lee? How boring is it? It's not at all. I love it. Absolutely love it. I've raised four kids. I've got three boys and a girl, a little girl. And I disagree with Ange. I just think if you don't want to do it, don't have kids. Yeah, there is the repetitive stuff but you know, at the end of the day, for such a short time of your life, they're only young for such a little time. 

She then goes on to talk about how she fills her day with pick ups and drop offs, canteen duty etc. And how when she sees people with toddlers and babies, she feels sad that her children have outgrown that stage.

She closes by saying, "I just think if you're not in it for the long haul and you don't enjoy it, don't have 'em."

To which Kate Langbroek, god bless her, replied, " Oh, we're in it for the long haul, believe me. We're just saying, Lee, we didn't realise how long the long haul was going to be!"

I have no doubt that Lee is genuine in what she says. That being a mum has completely fulfilled her. And if that is true, how wonderful for her because those days of stay-at-home parenting are long. Really, really long.

Like Kate Langbroek said, Lee is the bedrock of our society. And good on her.

But there was a time not so long ago that if a woman described her days as anything less than the traditional utopia of the good wife and doting mother myth, she was looked upon as some kind of freak. Mums who didn't hold it together were 'closet drinkers' or 'one crack-up away from the funny farm.' Or worse still, not maternal.

The very worst thing for women at home caring for a family is to feel they can not be honest about the ups and downs of that journey. My mum is forever telling me how having an online community of mothers would have helped her so much. She sees how having this connection with other mums, some from the other side of the world, is tremendously helpful in coping with the reality of being a mum. Despite a myriad of differences between us, being a mother binds us to one another, and we come to understand that some things are universal.

Being able to tell the truth about motherhood, about the monotony of being at home, to share stories of PND and sleepless nights, to rejoice over baby milestones and support one another through the trauma of potty training – we are all so much richer for having these connections at our fingertips.

I don't judge Lee for being giddy about filling her days with canteen duty and soccer practise. I don't get it but I don't judge her.

So it offends me that she assumes that women who aren't thrilled by the prospect of turning into a cooking, cleaning taxi for their children are any less of a mother than she. 

Motherhood is a real job and it's fucking hard. And sometimes, I don't want to do it anymore.Those feelings don't negate the beautiful moments. They don't erase the great work I do as a mum to my boys.

And actually, in admitting that, in sharing those feelings and giving them a voice, I can better process them and move forward. 

I am a stay-at-home mum, I am on the frontline, day in and day out, raising my kids and feeling blessed to be able to do so. But I look forward to a time when they are more independent. 

Yes, this time of their life is, in the grand scheme, short and yes, it's precious and I will look back at photos of my babies and get all misty-eyed but that doesn't change the simple fact that sometimes, it's shitful. Boring, stressful, frustrating, annoying, exhausting, boring, boring, mania-inducing and also, boring. 

A mother pretending all is rosy while quietly stewing in desperation and resentment? Is dangerous. 

Good on Lee and all the mums like her. How lucky they are to be so satisfied. I could do without the self-satisfaction though.

And to the other mums who adore their children, feel so blessed to have them and yet, occasionally feel like running away, even just to sit alone in their car where no sticky little hands can pull and demand and need and want, good on you, too. Being a mum is a huge part of our lives but it is not our sum total. Our own needs and wants count. Any time I can take mine out for a spin, I am a happy woman.

The biggest gift you give your children is to demonstrate who you are outside of the role of just being Mum. It's a sacred and important role but it co-exists with another person who is an individual with thoughts and feelings, hopes and goals all of their own. Teach your child that she is important, too. Because she is.

Hello friends

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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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16 Comments

  1. Megan @ Writing Out Loud

    Great post, Angie – I think these ARE some of the best times of our lives, right here as mums of young kids, just as older people remind us. But that doesn’t mean that every moment, every day is wonderful. Or that we can’t have a good old-fashioned wine – I mean whine – to help us through.

    Reply
  2. Rae

    Honey – this is my most favourite blog entry ever…especially the last paragraph.

    I thank you, once again, for keeping it real xx

    Reply
  3. Jess

    Ahh angle, you have bought tears to my eyes again! I too love the last paragraph.

    It’s something I have thought alot about lately. My god, it is the hardest role in the world… Raising another human being (or two!!) Being their role model, their life, their love – their everything. The weight of that responsibility alone, is enough to make me want to crawl under a rock and hide sometimes. Then there is the boredom you speak of, the exhaustion and the helplessness as you watch a once passionate, sex-fueled relationship wither away in to more of a ‘take the fucking bins out or I will poke your eye out’ type relationship!

    And trying to find ourselves along the way… The emerging woman in her mid thirties.. Who is she, now??!

    But yeah.. I love it. Wouldn’t change it for the world. My saving grace is knowing that there are other mums who have the same emotions as me and that it doesn’t make me a bad mother… Just one who is growing with her little family and is not ashamed to share that with them 🙂

    Reply
  4. Victoria KP

    This is a fantastic post. I couldn’t agree more. Yes, I love my kids more than anything in the world and I’m so glad I could afford to stay home with them as babies and toddlers. But, I am so glad I won’t have to potty train another human being. And I am over the moon that my kids have outgrown “Candy Land”.

    Women–mothers in particular–need to stop judging each other. We’re all in this together, might as well help each other out.

    Reply
  5. melbo

    Well I couldn’t agree with you more of course. And you know, the curse of being funny is that some people just don’t get the joke.

    Sad but true.

    Reply
  6. Fran

    Love your work once again Angie – I had a little chuckle this morning when I listened to the podcast. I figure the caller after you was viewing her mothering experience a little too fondly – I think she forgot a little bit what it’s like to raise kids under 4 (as she said all her kids are at school).

    Either way, you don’t need me to tell you to continue keeping it real. I LOVE being a mother too – but I agree with you, it can get mundane and to not admit that is ridiculous. Also to assert that you shouldn’t have kids in the first place if you find raising them boring, is just plain stupid.

    Much love to all the mums – we all do a bloody good job!

    Reply
  7. Amethyst

    I listened to it last night and found the caller after you to be a bit offensive. If you don’t enjoy every single moment of being a mother you shouldn’t have children?? I mean really??
    I think she’s wearing some rosy glasses if she’s looking back and failing to see the nights she stayed awake ’til 4 in the morning with a sick toddler reading and re-reading ‘Charlie & Lola’ or the times she played memory over and over and OVER again etc… It’s a humorous show and your answer was clearly to be taken in the same light! Viva La Little Mumma… (From a SAH, HS mummy who adores spending every day with her kids but is honest enough to say that sometimes I just need a bath with candles, a cup of tea and the door CLOSED!)

    Reply
  8. Susan Green

    Great post. Fully agree. I don’t think I can say anything different to everyone else, except it doesn’t stop when your kids are at school. It is just as hard and just as full of highs and lows with homework added. And you still have the moments where just the sound of their voice makes you start to twitch, but also the feeling of love when you fondly think of them…when they are at school and not at home fighting, niggling and asking for food.

    Reply
  9. Indy

    All i want to add is: If only I’d known then what you guys clearly have nailed… just MAYBE i might have more memories to cherish 🙁 Unfortunately undiagnosed (until the last) PND with all 3 means that my memories of those precious moments at home are hazy at best – I kept expecting the Zoe Carides moments (Johnson’s Baby Powder for those too young to remember Zoe’s ad) but kept waking to what seemed at the time to be a living hell…. in retrospect it’s so easy to see how short that time was and kick myself for not lapping it up but that’s just seriously hard to see when you’re measuring in minutes between feeds, between sleeps between cries etc not days, weeks, months….

    Hey i still worry that I’m not a good mother to this day… do they have pleasant memories or are they all of a ranting lunatic? Did i give them enough love? Will they understand that I truly loved them despite it all and…more importantly, still do… no matter how far away they go or what they think of me

    Ah yes Chrissy… indeed there’s a fine line between pleasure & pain and we wouldn’t have it any other way…? 🙂

    Reply
  10. Indy

    P.S.: Thanks on behalf of young mums everywhere… love your work! 🙂

    Reply
  11. MJ

    Everyone else has said what I wanted to, so all I can add is BRAVO!

    Standing ovation for you, my dear. x

    Reply
  12. Tracey

    I adore my kids & spending hours at home with them doing stuff, but thats because the rest of my days are whirlwinds of work which i dont love but neeed to feed, clothe & house my offspring…. Its sucks but I gotta do what I gotta do……

    Reply
  13. Ladybird

    Lee sounds like a duesch bag. xxx

    Reply
  14. Carol Townsend

    well said!

    Reply
  15. Jessica

    This is so true, I am finally starting to find myself again after years of being too overwhelmed with taking care of little ones to really know who I was anymore. So important to have our own passions and also completely normal to want to run away every now and then :).

    Reply
  16. Kea

    I think it’s sooo important for our kids to see us as a happy healthy woman (well… As healthy as we can, I’m not talking eating rabbit food all day, while alternating zumba and pilates DVDs, all the while losing sleep left right and centre…) rather than a cooking cleaning taxi driving robot. If that means we aren’t mothers 24 hrs a day(I spend 2 hrs a day ‘responsibility free’ studying a degree off-campus) then, so be it. It’s better for us, it’s better for them.

    Reply

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