It's so wonderful to be me. Really, it is. I've a nice tidy house (just don't look in my cupboards). I cook healthy and nutritious meals for my family from scratch. And on occasion, I've been known to squeeze in a mani and a pedi. My husband is a real star too. He helps me with the running of our house each day. Along with the washing, feeding, and general rearing of our four mainly happy, and well-behaved children (please note: the word our). And each day, I end it almost always balanced and content, without the need to cry and wail into my Sauvignon by 4pm.
Now then, you may relate to me already or you may have just experienced a small urge to smack me in the chops, and if you did, then according to Shona Sibly's article in the Daily Mail, this'll mean that you're from camp Slummy, and due to all of my above, frankly smug admissions, I'll be the one who resides in camp Yummy: You're parenting nemesis. I am the Montague to your Capulet; the 2pac to your Biggie Smalls. I am ketchup, and you are HP.... What a load of nonsense.
Sibly writes in the Daily Mail article "for years, nauseatingly smug yummy mummies have curated blogs and Instagram accounts, ramming pictures of their colour co-ordinated children, expensive kitchens and perfectly honed bodies down our throats". And whilst this might be technically true of a lot of sweet and cuddly Mummy bloggers out there, I don't really understand why carefully chosen clothes (we have to purchase our kids clothes anyway, so why not choose well?), a healthy body (shouldn't we all aim for health?), and a kitchen that reflects an element of career success should offend anyone so much. It doesn't really stand to reason to me. And when did we land back in the school playground, anyway?
So whilst I wrestle with visions of West-side story style stand-offs between the Yummies and the Slummies outside the CO-OP using nothing but gin bottles and Boden pony haired heels as weaponry, I feel really annoyed that we have to be pitching ourselves against each other like this for it serves absolutely no purpose.
I can't lie. All that I state in my above declaration is true. I shave my legs. And most weeks, I'm even able to wait till Friday before I hit the Pinot ... (I said most. Not all) I don't consider that being smug, I consider it normal, which is why I find this highly fashionable wave of 'Slummy Mummy' social media and blogging truth bombs, where grown women compete to be more miserable; more drunk by tea-time thoroughly alarming - "No, my standards are lower" ... "No. mine are".
It all makes me genuinely concerned for the future of our UK parenting scene and I can't imagine how this Mummy style du jour would have affected me if it were around when I had my first baby back in 1999, aged only 19. Honestly, I think it would have just encouraged me to dwell on my bad days (of which there were plenty) and more than likely encouraged me to follow suit and develop a bad booze habit before my kid even cut her first tooth.
Look, I'm not completely stupid - I get it: all this online brutal honesty is reassuring to other mothers when they feel down and lonely. But it's also creating an unhealthy trend; a self-fulfilling prophecy of inadequacy and a false acceptance of low parenting standards. 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.
Since when did we live in a society where woman are actually critiqued in online news publications by other women for doing ok anyway? For nailing motherhood and family life? Should these woman who are successful in their family lives hide their nice homes and their happy children for fear of offending the less happy girls amongst us? Should the so-called Yummies pretend to be miserable just to make it into the cooler and more hip Camp Slummy?
It's entirely futile to pigeon hole anyway, because in my experience, the state of woman's kitchen doesn't maketh the Woman nor Mother - you could have a kitchen carved from the finest Italian marble, and still be crying into your trail-mix every morning whilst you prepare little Barney's bento box. But equally, some of the happiest and most content woman I know are single working mothers with not a spare Waitrose charity token to their name. The point I'm making is that we shouldn't be judging each other on our homes; our figures or our marriages ladies. What is this - the 50's?
But the article gets much worse - Sibly then goes on to complain of Mothers who choose to sit and do craft activities with their children (clearly a hanging offence) questioning "do these women really have nothing better to do?" Wait a minute Shona, love. Are you telling me that it's now insensitive to others if people play with their children ... too smug you say? And don't even get her started on the making of crafty dreamcatchers or the yummies who choose to take their children on picnics, well that'll really rattle her cage. Really? ...
I would argue that spending time with your child, enjoying food, on a blanket, in the great outdoors is probably a whole lot more useful and inspiring to fellow mothers and the World in general, than the woman who chooses to spend her time hating on the woman who sits on the blanket, enjoying the food, with her child, in the great outdoors.
But anyway. That's just me. And before you say it, I'm not being Anti-feminist here, I'm just saying - don't call me a Yummy Mummy simply because I handle my S***.
So, I'm sorry to Shona and all who proudly reside at camp Slummy with its closed door policy, but I honestly find Motherhood alright, and dare I say it - fun and rewarding (for the most part). So I won't be making up tales of fraudulent misery to hide the fact that my husband isn't a total F***wit anytime soon. And I'm really sorry that other people in my house actually take stuff upstairs (Parenting hack: ASK THEM TO!).
But sarcasm aside, the way I see it is that we all have choices in this life. So if you don't want to be saddled with a lazy fecker, then don't marry one. Equally, if you don't like kids, then don't have them.
If you enjoy your independence; your sleep; your social life; your un-tapped breasts, then perhaps parenthood isn't for you right now. And that's ok too, god knows women have earned the right to choose and motherhood is no longer a pre-requisite for female completion. We all have options now - make your choices and live with them. Own them. Deal with the inevitable bad days and enjoy the good days, because I'm telling you - you'll have plenty of both if you choose the family making path.
Don't expect the fundamentals of your personality to change overnight once you've given birth, either. If you were a messy cow before kids, chances are we will stay messy. And vice versa. No-one said that giving birth means you have to turn into some kind of Martha Stewart/Angelina Jolie hybrid. But you know what? Crying everyday into your gin isn't and shouldn't be considered normal either. And if you do genuinely feel like that, then you should talk to someone in the flesh who's nice, and kind and seek professional help, not glorify it for all to feast upon because being miserable isn't healthy and shouldn't come as standard as soon as that blue line appears. Sure, its hard, but no-one ever got anywhere focusing on the negative. And that stands for all walks of life, not just having a baby.
I guess I'm just a bit bored of the whole 'Slummy Mummy' thing, and whilst there are some truly talented and super-funny writers out there nailing the 'warts and all' accounts of parenting, I don't think it should become an aspirational standard for Jane Bloggs down the road. Because when you strip away the humour, and the viral blog posts, and the hilarious pictures of little Johnny with faeces smeared all over his face while Mummy gets drunk watching In the Night Garden, what's left? Take it from me, the early years of your child's life will soon become as irrelevant to your day to day existence as Fresher's week is to a post-grad. Sure it's important at the time, but you're not defined by it for very long. You move on, and when little Johnny grows to be an awkward, insecure teenager, looking you in the eye and asking why you tore the arse out of his early years, hashtagging his every bodily function to prove your 'Slummy' worth, you'll soon realise that all this negative 'sharenting' will evolve into nothing more than your child's worse nightmare (plus, your kid will probably sue you and demand the Judge grants on the spot emancipation).
... But that weird and slightly rubbish dreamcatcher that you took the time to make with your kid on the blanket that time? Oh, you'll all love that.
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