We’ve all been there. The kids are kicking off, we’re doing our absolute best to calm them down while keeping our own tempers in check, and then we feel judgey eyes of other parents on us.
And it isn’t a nice feeling; you feel out of control, like you are the worst mum ever with the most badly behaved kids who’ve ever crossed the park/softplay/shopping centre threshold.
Which is why this excellent open letter from mummy blogger Sarah Turner (aka Unmumsy Mum) totally gets what it’s like when you feel those oh-so-perfect mums with their smart, shiny kids are giving you the raised eyebrows and disapproving stares. But not all of them are judgey…
Sarah writes honestly about parenting with the screaming and sweary bits left in. She was compelled to write the open letter when she saw a mum in the park looking fed up at how she and her kids were being perceived by other parents. Here’s some of what Sarah wrote (with an occasional MFM moment) – read the full version on her blog…
An Open Letter To The Mum With The Red Coat
You probably won’t remember me. I saw you at the park on a rainy afternoon last week. I felt inclined to keep looking over and smiling at you because I sensed you were having a s**t day. Actually, I more than sensed it… you looked bl**dy miserable.
Your kids were kicking off and you had a ‘when did this become my life?’ face on. I recognised the face because I wear it interchangeably with my ‘somebody make it stop’ face.
(See, she totally gets it!)
It was for this reason that I made a passing “nightmare, aren’t they?” comment, to which you responded with a very small smile.
You were probably distracted by your toddler – who had taken off both shoes, lobbed them from the climbing frame, and was refusing to come down – and also by your baby, who for the love of God, you could not stop crying.
(Oh yes, we’ve all read the book/got the t-shirt for that scenario)
Of course, you might just have chosen not to engage in conversation with me because you heard my son declare “farty pants knickers bum-bum head” in close proximity to all the other children (he does that a lot).
But I had a sneaky suspicion you were in actual fact more troubled by the behaviour of your own children. Your face was red and you looked kind of sheepish. I just wanted to say something. I wanted to let you know that you really didn’t need to be embarrassed that day. Granted your children were being total s***s. I mean they were. But that isn’t a reflection on your parenting and it isn’t a reflection on you.
By all means rage at them, swear under your breath, cry, get the emergency Bear Snacks out as bribery – hell, do whatever you need to. But please don’t check over your shoulder as if you are anticipating a judgmental glare. We are in this together.
I get it. I do. When my eldest goes un-cooperatively stiff from the neck down and I resort to dragging his dead weight out of the play area and across half a football pitch, it is difficult not to clock the stares. And your son shouting, “I’M NOT COMING DOWN, I HATE YOU!” was really quite loud – so naturally people had a gander.
But you then also felt the need to whisper, at a volume much louder than a true whisper, “It’s not time for your milk yet, sweetheart, you’ve just been fed,” – which, though directed at your screaming baby, appeared very much to be for our benefit (me and the other parent bystanders). As if you were worried we would think ‘she should feed her baby’.
(Uh-oh – done that one)
We have all been there.
(Yes! Yes! Yes!)
You are doing your best at an impossible job, and that afternoon was particularly impossible. Get angry about it, laugh about it (I’m sorry but his dramatic shout of “I want a new mum!” across the roundabout was hilarious), and then draw a line under it.
(THIS is what every parenting manual needs on every page!)
Trip to the park – failed. So what? File it in the Absolute Bl**dy Disaster drawer and start again. There’s a Tesco Express within sight of that roundabout where you can grab a bottle of grown-up grape juice on the way home.
So the next time another mum pipes up with: “Urgh, kids are a bl**dy nightmare, aren’t they?”, please know that she is not slagging off you or your children. She is just offering you the space to have a moan. She gets it. Because she, too, owns a teething baby and a toddler who likes to ‘play dead’ on the pavement.
Lovely coat by the way.”
Oh we are SO with the Unmumsy Mum all the way here! What do you think?