The other day at work, another mum and I had a go at this dumb brochure for a local festival that featured one of those perfectly dressed families. Dad had ironed khakis and a little salt-and-pepper in his hair. Mum was a 20-year-old trophy wife without a care in the world or a bag under the eye. Child #1 held her hand in a starched white polo shirt whilst child #2 ran ahead in a dry-clean-only romper.
"First of all, there is no way that model has children. She is probably a teenager," my co-worker snorted.
"She lives on 300 calories a day," I contributed, "Smiling is taking all the energy she has. Go eat your salad and be sad, fake mum."
"And the dad is way too old for her. What is this advertising, the To Catch a Predator festival?"
"Those kids are being bribed with chocolate by their real mothers to behave on the photo shoot."
"Nah. Their stage mums won't let them have chocolate."
"That boy is a mouth breather."
"That girl is grinning because she just defiled her romper with a brown bootycake."
Ok, it didn't go that far, but she and I have had many fun conversations commiserating about the precision it takes to strike a work/family balance. We find solidarity in the fact that we both dress our kids from a clean pile of laundry that never quite makes it into a wardrobe. Which leads me to the first reason I'm failing at motherhood...
1. My children are rough looking at best
I put zero thought into their outfits-if it is hygienic, weather-appropriate, and within arm's reach, it'll do. Life is too short to coordinate socks, so most of the time each toddler wears a racecar stocking and a flowery pink one-neither matching, nor gender-correct. My son's clashing sweat suits are only outdone by his out-of-control hair, which is not so much "bed" head as it is "cage-fighting-with-a-wild-mongoose" head.
2. We all have potty mouths
My kids aren't going around hurling expletives and insulting people, but they do tell their share of fart jokes. But unless suffering from a proctology-related birch tree impaction, most people find the following words funny: trouser turbulence, fecal fume, one-man salute, bum bassoon, Mississippi mud flute, etc. We've taught our kids to use discretion when telling fart jokes because some people are offended by bodily functions, but in our home they are free to let 'em rip.
3. I'm a PTA MIA
Between my job and family, all my time is consumed, so I am the last person to get involved at my son's preschool. Apparently they have a colour of the week he should be sporting. It's a good thing his outfits are a mashup of every colour and pattern invented, so I can half-heartedly point the teacher to a sufficient coordinating section of his attire on any given school day.
4. Our play-dating life is as inactive as Mel Gibson's Tinder account
We don't "date" much. My husband is staying home with the kids until they're both in preschool next year, and he is very introverted. To put it another way, he would rather watch an hour-long GIF of Mary Berry eating puff pastry in slow motion than make mummy small talk.
5. My house is in a state of Toys-R-Us squalor
When you are a parent with small children, you have to pick your battles. For instance, I can spend my two hours of kid-free time in the evening tidying the same toys every night, or I can keep my sanity. I choose sanity.
The way I see it, we are all happy and cute-even if our clothes don't match, we laugh too hard at the melodies of colon clarinets, and our best friends all reside within our messy townhouse. We may not be as polished as the family in that festival advert, but in reality, the salt-and-pepper fake dad probably has a wicked cocaine addiction, the pretend kids will end up estranged from their stage mums, and the model mother is very, very hungry.