A while ago, I was sitting at a suburban hall watching my daughter and her friends receive end-of-term certificates. A swarming paparazzi pack of parents was clamouring around them, taking photos on their phones.

I was on a deadline for work and frowning at my laptop when one of the mums called out to me. ‘Would you like me to get a photo of your daughter for you? I can text it to you. I can see you’re busy,’ she said.

It was nice of her, but honestly? I wasn’t going to take a photo anyway. I love my kids more than Salted Caramel Tim Tams, but I am sick of celebrating and recording every minor milestone or achievement in their lives.

Congrats on showing up

My daughter and her friends hadn’t finished a concert; the certificates were merely for turning up and doing a term of jazz dance. And yet you’d think they were in the Bolshoi Ballet.

As I sat there feeling like the worst mum in the world, I wondered where my participation medal was.

participation medal

Where’s my certificate for taking my daughter to dancing every Tuesday?

For paying outrageous sums of money each term for my son to play soccer? For getting him there on time every Thursday? And for reminding him to take his soccer boots? For finding those boots in the bushes by the trampoline?

I reckon we should stop giving kids participation medals for merely turning up and give them to parents instead.

It didn’t help that I had to be in three places at once that night. One kid had to be at soccer, another had to be at footy tryouts and another needed to be at jazz ballet.

As always, I pulled it off – just. I called in some favours from other parents, drove like a madwoman between venues and gave the kids dinner on the run. They ate reheated burgers that tasted like seared mud flaps and made the car smell like a gymnast’s armpits.

And yet did they appreciate my efforts? Not really.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being a mum . . . most of the time. But kids today take things for granted – particularly their parents. Often it feels like we’re the ones doing the hard yards, yet they’re the ones getting the reward.

Introducing the Mum Awards

It’s time we came up with a whole new range of awards to be given to parents by their kids.

  • Top Effort for Finding My Library Books Under My Bed Even Though I Told You I’d Already Looked There!
  • Thanks a Bunch for Remembering Bastille Day and Drawing Me a Moustache with Your Favourite Eyeliner!
  • You’re a Hero for Remembering Footy Tryouts and Making Me Get Off the PS4 Even Though I Told You I Didn’t Want To Go!
  • Thanks for Helping Me Not Kill Anyone While I Was On My L-Plates!
  • Gold Star for Making me Look like a Dr Seuss Character for Book Week, Even Though I Only Told You I Wanted to Dress Up 12 Hours Before the Event!

I am kidding (sort of ). I know parenthood is a reward in itself. Our kids are our medals. Their smiles are our certificates. But I wouldn’t mind a trophy of my own from time to time – for achievement rather than effort.

My new book The Secret of Half-arsed Parenting is my participation medal for all you hardworking mums.

Source: Herald Sun/Nicole Cleary

It’s my way of saying, “Good on you for all of the great things you do”. Don’t forget that no one really cares about all the things you don’t do – except when you forget to take out the bin with the Christmas prawn heads in it and then go to the beach for two weeks.

The Secret of Half-Arsed Parenting is out now. You can get it at Booktopia, Dymocks, Good Reads or Big W.

Check it out on Insta and stay tuned because we’ve got more arse-halfed parenting pearls of wisdom to share every week!

Author

Dr Susie O'Brien is a journalist at the Herald Sun, author of The Secret of Half-arsed Parenting and mother of three. She is a regular media commentator and appears weekly on Sunrise where her biggest audience is women on treadmills watching with the sound turned down.

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