If self-flagellation was an Olympic sport, mothers around the world would make Usain Bolt look like a bit of a loser who needs to try harder. If there’s one thing us mums do exceptionally well, it’s whipping ourselves stupid with existential guilt about what a shit job we are doing at this parenting gig.
Except when I say “we” I don’t actually mean “me”.
Confession time: I actually think I’m a pretty kick-ass mum.
It feels like a strangely exotic and almost taboo thing to admit, because all around me I see perfectly capable women beating themselves up for all manner of perceived failings – flaws that are apparent to no one but themselves, a million clickbait parenting articles and a hungry band of online trolls with a taste for the blood of emotionally vulnerable mothers.
I’m curious to know if anyone else out there feels the same way, because it kind of makes me feel like an outsider. I mean, where are all the brag manifestos from women who think they are doing a pretty bang-up job at motherhood and aren’t afraid to admit it? Where are all the mums kicking “Not Good Enough” in the fanny while screaming “NOT TODAY, SANCTIMUMMIES!”
I’m not taking the piss. Honestly, I’ve said it to people before – without a single ounce of sarcasm – that my kids pretty much won the Parenting Lotto when they scored me as a mum. And if that sounds like a vainglorious circle jerk, let me explain why:
They have a mother who loves and adores them, unconditionally.
A mother who strives to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.
A mother who encourages them to express their emotions.
A mother who allows them to explore their interests without limitations.
A mother who protects them from harm and nurses them when they are sick.
A mother who is devoted to ensuring their physical and emotional wellbeing.
A mother who faciliates their learning and encourages their creativity.
A mother who soothes their fears with kisses and cuddles their woes away.
A mother who would literally die for them in a heartbeat – and if you don’t believe it, come the fuck at me and I’ll prove it.
Recognise yourself in any of that? I’ll hazard a guess that you do. The fact that we do a lot of these things by default doesn’t make them any less meaningful, but we tend to overlook them in our race to find faults to beat ourselves up about.
I mean, shit guys, let that last point sink in for a second – MOST OF US WOULD LITERALLY DIE FOR OUR CHILDREN. So, the next time your bitchy inner voice tries to convince you that you’re crap at this motherhood gig, just remind her that you would willingly throw yourself face-first into the jaws of a Great White Shark if it meant sparing your child from the same fate. Did someone say “kick-ass”? ‘Cos that’s the textbook definition right there.
And look I’m not perfect by any stretch, but perfection is bullshit anyway and I’m not going to apologise for it. “Perfect” is a scam. It’s the pinnacle of a parenting pyramid scheme you can never ascend – because it’s a total con – and anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is probably trying to sell you something. If you’re hung up on trying to be perfect I’m here to give you permission to let it go with love – and a flying roundhouse kick to the face.
Because the thing is, being a kick-ass mum doesn’t mean surrendering your days to Pinterest-pretty activities, nutritionally-balanced organic snacks, home made playdough and socially-engineered playdates. It’s not about never yelling or never failing or never letting your kids down. It’s not about being at every school event. It’s not about schlepping them around to every activity. And it’s not about being a martyr or a saint.
Acknowledging that we can be kick-ass mothers – despite our imperfections – is one of the most subversive acts we can embrace as women, because the prevailing weight of social expectation wants to convince us otherwise. Fuck those who judge. Fuck those who make you doubt yourself. Fuck anyone who wants to make you feel less than. And fuck that little voice inside that is always telling you that you are not good enough, because that voice is wrong.
Need me to prove it to you?
Answer this simple multiple-choice question:
Quiz: Are you a kick-ass mum?
b) Shit Yes
c) Hell Yes
d) Fuck Yes
You are a kick-ass mum. Own that shit.