A/N: There was this HuffPost article that really riled me up this week. I left a comment there, but couldn't really articulate what I so disliked about it - I don't write a 'slummy mummy' blog. I don't post warts and all pics. I don't even drink more than twice a year, so it's not as though I can claim it felt like a personal attack. It just made me angry. I figured I'd try and get it all out on the page...
The author came back to me in the FB comments and claimed she doesn't judge people on their figures, marriages or houses, so it's all fine and dandy. But, reading between the lines, that was exactly what she was judging people on, all presented in a kind of 'but if those things were how they should be they wouldn't ever share these bad moments' way. Maybe it's really just humour she has a problem with, IDK.
If you're a 'slummy mummy' you should have used contraception, that was the take away message of a particularly sanctimonious HuffPost article this week.
Because if you choose to complain about being a parent, you're probably a child neglecting alcoholic, who deserves to have a judge grant your kids' freedom as soon as possible. Motherhood is wonderful, magical, unicorn sparkling marvellousness, and if you don't focus solely on the good in your dealings with those outside the family, all you're doing is justifying your (and everyone else's) inherent slobbiness and lack of motivation to mould your spouse and offspring into something more praiseworthy.
What a steaming pile of BS.
Okay, so I'm cherry picking the worst bits but, still, somebody writing about the warts and all side of parenting - the bodily fluids, the epic tantrums, the days when you just count down the minutes until bedtime - doesn't negate someone else's stylised interior shots on instagram. Nor does one parent confessing to finding messy play a tedious pain in the backside mean another has to give up their happy afternoons of crafting and picnicking.
On the flipside, it's totally one camp's prerogative to sneer at the other's reluctance to use Facebook to draw attention to their child's carefully chosen outfits instead of how they ruined them, or brag about how their career success has enabled them to install a colour coordinated kitchen rather than how much booze is in their wine rack.
Different strokes for different folks, and all that.
But when you start suggesting the 'slummies' aren't fit parents because they like to write up the bad instead of the good, well, that's a totally different ball game. Having a laugh at the low points is not symptomatic of a drink problem, and having a moan about the other half doesn't mean they're (in the words of the article) 'a total F***wit'.
It means that some people have a different approach to life. That they have different priorities and different relationships. No, 'being [constantly] miserable isn't healthy', but perhaps - just perhaps - when this archetypal Slummy Mummy recalls the time her kid spewed in her hair before the school run, or whatever tale of woe she may choose to share, she is 'owning' her choices rather than wallowing in the pit of despair the author envisages.
Life isn't all rainbows and sunshine, and pretending it is isn't healthy either. Just because you choose not to share the bad online doesn't make your choice the superior one. That hypothetical vomit incident would still have meaning, and doubtless fond memories associated with it. It makes others smile, and connects people who have the same irreverent sense of humour. It doesn't mean the teller or the reader is a gin soaked sloven, and it certainly doesn't mean that someone who finds the tale depressing can't click away and get on with their own lives, be they a 19-year-old first time mum or not.
And as for when 'little Johnny', the poor child whose mother over 'sharented' his youthful mishaps, becomes a teenager, who knows. Perhaps he will resent it and beg the authorities to take him away from this terrible woman who didn't demonstrate her love through craft sessions and nagging. Or, perhaps he will be better adjusted for showcasing the bad to the world, rather than having to plaster on a false face. Perhaps he won't be as quick to judge, and perhaps he'll have even mastered sincerity.
Because when you say:
"I don’t claim perfection, but in my time I’ve been a teenage mum who scored high on the post-natal depression chart. I’ve been a working mum, a stay-at-home mum, A single mum, and a married mum who’s happy as Larry, But here is the thing: no matter what - I always looked to people who were inspiring to enable me to keep my game as high as I could get it, at any given time."
I did it all and more without resorting to complaining because I don't pretend to be perfect. I'm just considerably better than you.