The other day, we needed some milk so my mum Alyssa and I hopped in the car and headed to Tescos. However, once out we realised we needed to run several other errands and as madam had dosed off in the car we decided to head out and get on. It turned out that we’d actually end up being out for 5 hours. This posed a problem about an hour and a half in because whilst I’d put bubbas changing bag in for Tesco poop emergencies, I had not been prepared for a longer outing and had not packed a drink or snacks for my little one. What was a mamma to do…
The realisation that my little girl needed something to eat and drink arrived post Tesco visit when weren’t near any large supermarkets just a small shop and garage. I headed inside, not very hopeful I might add, and stood staring at the chilled cabinet for few minutes. What was I going to give her? How was I going to feed her and maintain good mummy status?! In the end I grabbed a squeezy fruit water (without sweeteners which took a while to find) a bag of quavers and an apple (thank God for a random pile of fruit!)
Back in the car, my eager daughter gulped down some fruit water and then devoured her quavers and apple. As I handed her each mouthful of drink and each quaver, waves of guilt went through me and I even said to my mum “And the bad mummy of the year award goes to…” and she told me not to be silly. This made me think after. Why did I think I was a bad mother? What was I worrying about exactly?!
Let’s look at this separately… why did I think I was a bad mother? Well for two reasons – the first that I had neglected to pack my daughter a snack and drink and when I did give her something it was natural, organically sourced nutritious snacks that had been sprinkled with unicorn glitter. Okay, so firstly I need to cut myself a break- I didn’t know we’d be out longer than 15 minutes which doesn’t require a full snack menu you be packed. Secondly, with such a limited choice I did what I could to make the best of a bad situation… I mean it’s not like I handed her a bottle of coke and a Mars bar is it?
Secondly, why was I worrying and feeling anxious about my decision? My daughter had been thirsty and hungry and I had solved the problem the best way I could. Then I realised the primary worrying thought going through my head was… “What would everyone think?!” Err hang on a second… who’s everyone? There wasn’t exactly a queue of people lined up outside the car window to witness this non-failing in my parenting and unless I said anything to anyone (yes I know I’m telling you but I’m making a point) who would know?! Well, the mummy’s would wouldn’t they? That special species of all seeing all knowing yummy mummy’s would know of my crime and I would be judged. I would be judged and convicted of my #mumfail…. um no!
When I actually stopped and thought about this I was genuinely shocked at my thought process because actually the only person judging me… was me! I was my own Mum: Judge, Jury and Executioner. Despite doing what I needed to do for my child I had judged myself and branded myself as a bad mum sure to be judged by all. I then realised I did this every time I experienced some sort of mum guilt – she had a shower tonight instead of a bath = bad mum. She had a pouch of food this evening instead of home cooked = bad mum. I have been so worried about being judged by others that I have been judging myself first…. and quite harshly too.
I realised this judgement stems from social media and what the general consensus of good and bad parenting is. I took a peek at the hashtag #mumfail over on Twitter and some of them were quite humorous such as a woman who’d sprayed herself with milk whilst expressing claiming that this shouldn’t be done so soon after waking. However, there were other messages such as “I’ve given in and let little one watch Peppa pig…am I a bad mum?!” Well, in my opinion no. A little television is very different from your children being glued to it 24/7. Alyssa loves In the Night Garden and Doc Mcstuffins and sometimes this means a half an hour of TV so I can get a drink and pee or a snuggle with mummy whilst we sing the songs… I’m not a bad mother and neither is “Peppa Pig mum”.
I’m not saying that other people will never judge you because they will for good and for bad. However, I think the worst judge of us as parents is actually… us. We are our own Judge, Jury and Executioner and I’m as guilty as anyone else for doing this. At the end of the day my daughter is healthy and happy and that is what counts. She’s not going to be harmed by a random packet of quavers or twenty minutes dancing with Lamby, Stuffy and Doc. So I’m stepping down from the bench and granting myself parole… and to the all seeing all knowing mummy brigade out there, I know that you are a figment of my warped mummy guilt imagination, but I’m throwing the book at you and locking you away… for good!!! Well that’s the idea anyway….