Thursday, 15 March 2012

This Mother's Day give yourself a pat on the back... you deserve it

So it's that day again, the Sunday where there will be whispering and plots, tea and toast in bed.

It's Mothers' Day.

Apparently it's all about appreciating us mums. Because we're worth it. Only quite a few of us don't believe we are. 

Have you noticed? The number of mums who are quick to label themselves "bad"? Only the other day a pregnant pal - first child - called herself "bad mummy" for scoffing a huge heap of chocolates. I was shocked, she hasn't actually given birth and she's setting herself up for the guilt trip. 

You see, theories about how to "parent" are legion. Are you baby weaning, baby wearing? Is Gina the queen o' your nursery? Will you be a SAHM or a WAHM, do the school run or hire a nanny? Are your kids veggies, will you tell them "no"? Make them do activities or let them slob on the sofa? Montessori, home ed, gifted or precocious? Are you a helicopter mum or a tiger mother? 

And whatever we opt for - or stumble into in a haze of broken nights and frustration - there will be strong opposition. The other way is best. How we bring up our kids, it seems, is everyone else's business as much as our own. 

And everywhere you turn there are celeb mums looking bloody marvellous, bright eyed, coherent and slender. Remember they are not role models, what you are seeing is a tiny stage managed sliver of an apparently pampered and glossy existence. Pay attention to them at your peril. 

And before reality TV and Spanx, there was a time when "parent" was still a noun and mothers weren't to blame for everything. Mums made things up on the spot while more or less doing the same as their mother's did... or the exact opposite, if they'd hated it. 

And are we deficient in any way because of it? Nope, thought not. I expect we turned out the same as the next generation and the one before us. Why? Because none of it makes a difference worth fussing about.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are your children fed? 
  • Are they clothed? 
  • Are they protected from harm and abuse?
  • Are there books in your house? 
  • Do you talk to them? 
  • Do they get cuddles?
  • Do you tell them you love them?

If you answered yes, then you are a good mother... good enough, and that's the only measure you need. 

So please, this Mothering Sunday appreciate yourself and vow to stop this "bad mummy" bullshit - you are not a bad mother, so stop even thinking it.

Being a mum is demanding enough without thinking you're rubbish at it because you have failed to live up to the standards set by some, arguably crackpot, parenting expert. Or worse still, the Daily Mail. 

Happy Mothers Day.

PS I couldn't decide if it's Mothers' Day, Mother's Day or Mothers Day so I've used all of them. 


  1. Great post Ellen. I hate all those so-called parenting experts and the papers who try and blame parenting for every social ill. I try and ignore it all and just concentrate on being good enough for my kids. As for mother's day I'm looking forward to my Thorntons chocs which has become as much as a ritual for my kids as me.

    Happy mothers day everyone!

  2. Thanks Deb. You do right to ignore it all - good enough is good enough.

  3. What a fabulous post, Ellen! You are so right. The one thing NOBODY warned me about is the amount of instant guilt (about everything and anything) associated with motherhood: what you eat yourself, what you feed them, how, and when, and how often; what school you send them to; whether and how and how often you supervise their reading or numeracy. Very often, I feel I'm damned if I do, and damned if I don't. And why is that? At the end of the day, I'm doing my jolly best, and I love them dearly, and they know that. So yes, thank you: I will give myself a pat on the back, and lay off the guilt! XX Happy Mothering Sunday (there, that gets you out of the apostrophe conundrum!)

  4. Thanks Nicky, It's true often it feels like there is no area of parenthood where your best is good enough... til now. I've had enough of it! x

  5. This is a brilliant post and I hope many, many people see it as we all do forget that being a good mum boils down to if your kids are happy, well fed and loved and no one ever reminds us of that x

  6. The Rambling Pages, Thank you - it's very hard to hang on to this while being bombarded by the other nonsense.

  7. Excellent post! I suddenly felt a whole load better by answering yes to all your questions!

  8. Older Mum, good and I am as qualified as most parenting experts on the subject!

  9. What a grounded post! Beware the Daily Mail, I agree, although it's many a woman's 'guilty pleasure'.

  10. Thanks Caroline. Well yes it's true, the Daily Mail does what it does extraordinarily well. I think what's important is understanding that it exists to get people to read not because it necessarily agrees with the sentiment on the pages/site. I wrote about it a while ago -

  11. This is such a fantastic post Ellen. I started realising the mummy state of affairs during my pregnancy and since I gave birth it has been non-stop. In my experience it has been imposed both by me and by other mothers/parents, my own I understand as I want the very best for my daughter and I want her to be happy, it is precisely for that reason that I decided to kick those thoughts very hard in the derrière. However, I will always be supportive of other mothers, always, so why have I encountered so many that only manage to pile the pressure on? Unfortunately I have seen many look precisely like celebrities, I spotted a couple of sets of vertigo-inducing heels at soft play the other day, accompanied by perfect hair and make-up. I have reached the conclusion that the fact that I am so utterly imperfect (huge exaggeration there but it sounded good) may actually mean that I am actually the perfect mother for MY child, she's such a happy little soul full of sunshine, hugs and kisses for whoever will accept them which, unfortunately, is not everyone's kids.

    I see plenty of other mothers though who, like me, are ready to wear garments that safely allow them to run and play with their children, who are ready to pull faces and risk the appearance of lines in the process, just to get their little people to smile and, at the end of the day, if your children manage to go to bed with a big smile in their face, whatever you are doing and in whatever footwear, it is working. Just remember to keep being a good person in the process.

    As Nicky Wells said further up: Happy Mothering Sunday! Feliz día de la madre. And sorry for the essay!

  12. Fiesty Tapas, thanks and well said. We are the perfect parents for our own children - and that's all we need to know.

  13. I want to print those 7 questions and hang them on my wall to remind me how silly I'm being when I get the guilts. A great post.

    1. Thanks - it's certainly worth keeping them in mind.

  14. Lovely post Ellen :)

    A bit of a tangent but kinda related, one of Cara's friends asked why I was wearing a dress the other day and Cara said 'she's got a fat tummy so trousers hurt her' which I'm sure I have never said to her, she must have decided that for herself. While it stung a bit, I was really struck by the non-judgemental way she said it. I'm just her mum and she'd love me however I was, which is kind of how it should be, it's us as adults who put all these ridiculous pressures on ourselves to be 'perfect'.

    1. We put far too much pressure on. I think acceptance is important. On the other hand, none of my children are likely to notice what I wore!

    2. One word: girls ;)

  15. Oh hear hear!

    Just remind me of that whenever I'm whinging won't you?

    But, you know, and I've been mulling over this one for a post at some point, I do feel, and it's probably only in my head, judged by other women. I was talking to some friends the other day about who they "dressed for" (nonsensical idea really, actually I dress for basic decency and warmth, but that's by the by). Anyway, I clearly don't dress for B, because he's stuck with me (and allegedly he thinks I'm gorgeous), and I definitely don't dress for other men. And I don't really understand what "dressing for myself" means, other than warmth and decency as above. And I realised that when I want to look good, I want to do it for other women. Because I, rather pathetically, want other women to be looking at me and thinking "there's Harriet, look at her, she's had four children and doesn't she look fab". It hasn't happened yet, mind, but I live in hope....

    Anyway, that's a bit of a random blether, but I suppose the point is that am I just feeling guilty, when I am feeling guilty (most of the time) because I what I think other women (probably Daily Mail readers) are thinking, whether they are or not?

    1. Interesting thoughts. I don't think there's anything wrong with wanting to look ok/better/best. It's a complex area, if we just dressed for decency or warmth then we'd wear boiler suits or trackies all the time and I'd hate to be seen out in either, but I couldn't articulate why.


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