I’ve been heading into sh*tty mum territory for years now. As a half-arsed parent, it’s okay to admit this. In fact, people like you more once you do.
I once left my daughter at crèche when she was a few weeks old. I didn’t forget her for a few minutes; I forgot she existed and drove all the way home without her. Major mummy fail there.
And when my older son was a toddler, I once gave him my car keys to play with and he used them to lock himself in the car. It was not my proudest parenting moment. I was hysterical – he was calm.
I’ve also lost my younger son in Target countless times. Be sympathetic next time you see someone with a snot-streaked face zig-zagging down the aisles crying frantically and calling out loudly. It’s not my son – it’s me looking for him.
When good mums go rogue
As time goes on, my standards are slipping lower. I give things in the fridge the sniff test rather than abide by use-by dates. I once gave my kids stale sandwiches for lunch as I’d been out with the girls the night before and skipped the supermarket shopping.
And don’t get me started on my car: I only cleaned it this week because someone drew a penis in the dust on the rear windscreen. (It may or may not have been one of my sons.)
No doubt you’ve got a few parenting fails up your sleeve too. I once put a call-out on Facebook and was inundated with similar stories.
That peeing incident
One pal detailed the time she ignored her toddler wanting to go to the toilet, only to find him, minutes later, weeing onto the baby who was sleeping beneath him in the double-decker pram.
The panty shield
Another sent her son to school with a panty shield stuck to the back of his jumper from the dryer because she was late and didn’t notice until he walked into the playground.
And another said her third child’s first proper word was the c-word. True story. He learnt it from her.
One mum admitted that she told her family she had to go away for a conference but really booked herself into a hotel for the night so she could have a decent sleep and meal alone. Now that’s #goals. We could all use a night in a hotel. Alone.
F*ck off Closet
And of course there was this mum who turned her bedroom closet into her own “F*ck off Space” where she could chill out in peace.
The pressure is ON
These days there’s so much pressure to look like we’re nailing it – to be effortlessly chic, have perfectly behaved children and hold down a well-paid job. Oh, and bake cupcakes from scratch for every cake stall.
One study found that 40 percent of mums aspire to be perfect although only three percent rate themselves as such. What an astonishing gulf between aspiration and reality!
The study found one in five mums tells white lies to impress other mums, although many are happy to ‘muddle through and even revel in their imperfections’.
The mummy fails we can ALL relate to
Such mums admit to giving their kids lollies before bed, letting them go longer than they should without baths or showers and ‘losing it’ in public places such as playgrounds and supermarkets. They’ve even served them food dropped on the floor. These are half-arsed mums – my kind of gals.
Remember the feeling of joy that comes with finding a park out the front of the preschool giving way to dread and then horror when you find out no one else is there because preschool’s not on?
Or that passive-aggressive text from another mum wondering why your child didn’t come to the party you forgot about? Hope you’re okay – I know how much Ethan was looking forward to the party.
And don’t get me started on fancy dress. There’s a reason why my kids take any dress-ups with them in their school bag rather than wear them to school – maybe I’ve got the right day, maybe I haven’t.
This is why half-arsed parents need a dose of sh*tty mum and dad every now and then. We don’t want to be bad parents, but we shouldn’t have to be perfect either.
It’s also great for building kids’ resilience and showing them they’re not the only ones who matter. The ultimate sh*tty mum, TV’s Roseanne, once said, ‘If the kids are still alive at the end of the day, I’ve done my job.’
Join the half-arse parenting revolution
The thing about being a sometimes sh*tty mum is that it’s a lot better for everyone. This is what half-arsed parenting is all about – a less stressful way to actually enjoy parenthood and raise awesome kids who aren’t demanding, entitled little sh*ts.
Dr. Susie O’Brien’s book The Secret of Half-Arsed Parenting is out now. You can get it at Booktopia, Dymocks, Good Reads or Big W.
We’ve also got several more half-arsed parenting stories on our site. Check them out:
- Why it’s Time to be a Half-Arsed Parent, Not a Perfect Parent
- Bringing up Toddlers – Just How Low Can You Go?
- The Worst Question You Can Ask a New Mum? “Is your Baby Sleeping Through the Night Yet?”
- Teenagers: What They Say Versus What They Mean
- Why I’m Embracing Half-Arsed Birthday Parties – And So Should You!