Sanctimammies Toddle On By

Sanctimammy

Noun – A Mammy who believes that her way of parenting is the correct and proper way; judging and dismissing other Mums who do not parent as she parents.

Adj – Sanctimammious     

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‘Live and Let live’ they say.  But once you dip your toe into the world of Parenthood, that seems to change for some people.  It becomes ‘Do as I do, Think as I think’. There is no area in our lives which can cause heightened levels of self-doubt and self-criticism as parenting.  And often, it is the outright self-righteousness and shared opinions of other parents which makes us doubt ourselves.

Have you ever been asked something about your child, only to have an eyebrow raised, or a lip pursed at your reply?  Have you ever been nervous of telling someone how YOU do things, because you know that they do it differently?

We all have.  We’ve all been there.

Parenting styles and beliefs and practices vary, not just in countries, or counties or communities, but within homes.  For twenty houses in an estate or on a road, there will be twenty different parenting styles happening at once. But here’s the thing.

Just because you do things differently, doesn’t make you better.

Just because you work AND have kids, doesn’t make you better than the Mum who is working her ass off at home.

Just because you’re able to stay at home with your Puking minion, doesn’t make you a better Mum than the Mum who had no choice but to leave hers with Granny, because she couldn’t get off work.

Just because you Breastfeed your baby, doesn’t make you better than the Mum who, for WHATEVER reason, has to (or choses to) Bottle feed. You don’t know why they can’t (or don’t) breast feed.  You don’t have to. It’s none of your business.

Just because you use organic, reusable nappies, you are not superior to the Mammy who stocks up on Packets.

Just because your Baby sleeps well, does not mean that the Mum who hasn’t slept for 14 months is less brilliant than you.

Just because you’ve decided to wean your Baby by the guidance of some book, feeding Quinoa and avocado and peppers, doesn’t make you better than the Mum who feeds her kid mashed potato and gravy, or (shock horror!) fishfingers and waffles.

Just because your little Japonica goes to 5 activities a week at 11 months old, does not make you a better Mum than Jacinta next door, who can just about leave the house to do the shopping, because her PND is so crippling that she can’t breath.

Just because you gave birth without drugs, in a calm and wonderful experience, does not make you a better Mum than the lady who has had 3 sections.

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Now, I am NOT saying that you shouldn’t make an effort to do what’s best and what’s healthy for your baby. What I am saying is that what YOU deem right and important, might not be the same as another Mum.  Our priorities are all different. And that’s OK

Every Mum does what SHE has to do for HER family. And the only person who knows what is right for your family is YOU.

You don’t know another Mum’s circumstance. You don’t know her. You don’t know if she’s happy, or watching you getting into your car to go to work, longing to be you.

You don’t know if she’s driving to work in tears because her Baby cried again as she was dropping him off.

You don’t know how many times a day the Mammy in the office feels a gutwrenching guilt at being away.

You don’t know how the Mum in her kitchen is longing for a conversation.

You don’t know how much the Mum who has to pay bills rather than pay for Baby swim classes longs to be able to sign her baby up.

You don’t know how much time and effort that Mum, looks fab at the school gate, took to just get out the door this morning because she cried all night.  

You don’t know how much the Mum who seems to have it all, wishes that she had something else.

You don’t know how much the Mum who is mixing up formula berates herself.

You don’t know Jack sh*t.

As long as your children are fed, and loved and looked after, you’re doing great.  

How we parent our children, is nobody’s business but our own.  And what other Mums think of your parenting, is absolutely none of YOUR business.  

And if you EVER hear yourself dismissing or tutting at another Mammy because she’s doing it differently to you, lift your hand, grab a wooden spoon and hit yourself a good hard slap on the arse with it.

No one likes a Sanctimammy.

New Year, New You…re grand as you are Mum.

Before the onslaught of New Year, New You Bullshit starts, let me remind you of a few things…

Yes, January 1st is an obviously good starting point for new beginnings and new intentions.

Just like everything ‘starts on Monday’, at this time of year, we are all so good at using ‘I’ll start in the New Year’ as our mantra.

New project? I’ll start in January…
New intention? I’ll start in January…
Giving up something? Wait until January…
Starting something? Wait until January…
New routine? I’ll start in January…
Want to change something? Wait until January… Good intentions eh?

NEED to change something? Wait until January? And suddenly, what SEEMS like a good intention is ACTUALLY just procrastination. And we’re all good at that.

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Of course the New Year is a great time for motivation and change and new everything. However, if you are changing something because someone or something is making you feel like you’re not good enough, stop and think.

Over the next few days, our news feeds will be full of adverts which seem to be encouraging and motivating you.

You’ll see all sorts of quick fixes and miracle makers; everything from programmes and apps to help to start or stop a habit, to magic pills and shakes which will transform you into a Victoria Secret’s model faster than you can take a poo… (which is precisely what you’ll be doing if you take any of that crap.)

What we need to remember is that EACH and EVERY one of these adverts has been targeted at us. They’re not popping up on our screens by accident. They’re targeted by the companies; our age, interests, demographic, location, previous searches… it’s all algorithm and it’s simple and clever marketing.

Most of the ads are genuine companies who know their target markets and how to target them effectively at the right time, in the right way.

There’s no conspiracy in that.

Where we have a problem is when the companies are telling you, usually indirectly, sometimes bluntly, that YOU are not good enough AS YOU ARE.

They tell you you NEED to look a certain way. You NEED your teeth whitened. You NEED to lose weight. You NEED to calm down. You NEED to change your mindset. You NEED to spend less time or more time on whatever… You NEED to eat this way. You NEED to take this… You NEED to take that.

They tell you that your life is incomplete. They tell you that your life is mediocre.
They tell you that your life could be soooooo much better.

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They go so far as to show you “Real people”, their case studies, their Before and Afters. They put only the Glossy, filtered, Instaperfect images of their customers/clients on their websites. They tell you that YOU TOO could have this life…that it is SOOOO easy. They smugly imply that it really is a breeze, that if you join their gang/cult/whatever that you will also have shiny, filtered, smiling instafeed in as little as 10 days.

By showing you these glossy smiling examples, they are indirectly telling your that YOUR life is actually pretty shitty in comparison.

They are hitting you during the Post Christmas bloat, the gray Pre-January blur when family members have left and the tree is molting in the corner and we’re all feeling a bit meh. They are telling you that you are not enough.

They are wrong.

You are perfect, just as you are.
You are beautiful, just as you are.
You are strong.
You can face anything.
You are loved.
Your life is YOUR life and it should not be measured by anyone else’s prepackaged and filtered measuring tape.

Sure, we all have things we aspire to, resolutions an intentions. If you want to change something, do it. If you want to get healthier, do it. If you want to lose weight, go for it. If you want to make a drastic change to your routine, go for it.

But ONLY do it FOR YOU.
Not because some advert on your news feed tells you you are not enough.

Do it for YOURSELF. AND if anyone of the smug, shiny, “Look at how perfect my life is” brigade tells you they can “Make you the BEST version of YOU,” tell them to feck off. You’re doing a great job of being YOU, all by yourself.

You don’t need to buy a lifestyle from anyone. You don’t need a NEW YOU. You just need to realise that you’re already as YOU as you can be.

 

And you look pretty damn perfect to me.

I am Saving Myself Thanks Mum

Kiera Knightly recently broke the interweb with her announcement that she has banned her three year old daughter from watching The Little Mermaid and Cinderella.  She feels that they teach her daughter wrong and even misogynistic lessons; that you need to wait for a man to save you and that you must give up your voice for the man you want…

Kristen Bell has issues with Snow White because of how consent is conveyed in it.

Fair enough.

Who are we to judge? If these Mamas don’t want to let their kids watch these movies, that is absolutely 100% THEIR DECISION!

In fact, the portrayal of women in Disney is something I have discussed with my students many, many, many times, and while I agree that many of the traditional “princesses” are frustratingly meek and mild and oh so obedient to their hearts and menfolk, I also am aware that the stories are not the cause of inequality and misogyny in our modern society.  They are only stories; fairytales, make believe… it is HOW we read them that is important.

Yes you can say that Prince Whatshisface kissing Snow White while she was sleeping is wrong.  Of course it is, but why do we hone in on that rather than the previous 60 minutes where she was a servant and cleaner and feck knows what else,  for seven little men?  (And does that not insult men, suggesting that seven of them together couldn’t function without a teenage girl to look after them?)

Yes, Cinderella needed magic and spells and fab shoes to get her prince.  And ‘tut’ to her that she needed a man to save her, but such was the world, the IMAGINARY world, in which she lived.

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Shakespeare wrote some of the most incredibly females in history. Lady Macbeth calls upon evil spirits to “unsex me here” because obviously she couldn’t be evil as she was a woman. (Any men getting offended here?)  And then he also wrote Ophelia, who is worse and more weak and frustrating that ANY Disney Princess in the world. Don’t start me on Ophelia…

Why did Shakespeare write her?  Because he was a woman hater? NO.  Because that was the society and cultural norm in the time in which he lived.  And actually, he had his Portia save the day when a crowd of men made a mess of everything, and then she married her Prince Charming, after saving his ass.

But we don’t ban our teenagers from reading Shakespeare do we?. In fact, we encourage it because we know that they can recognise the injustices and gender issues for themselves. Because we’ve given them those skills.

As for the Disney classics, remember that Cinderella and Snow White and The Little Mermaid were written in the early 1800s… of course their messages and social concepts are different to ours.

We however, get to choose how we read them.

And while there are valid arguments about the negative messages some of the classics send out, there are also plenty positives…and a few weird things, to pay attention to.

Cinderella was good and kind and she felt good in new, sparkly shoes. She also spoke to mice and birds.   Snow White was happy that Prince Whatshisface kissed her. He saved her. She wasn’t dragged off kicking and screaming to the castle to live happily ever after, was she?  The Little Mermaid was a defiant strong-willed rascal, who followed her heart.  Her best friends were also a crab and a fish… so let’s differentiate reality from fairytale.

Our daughters are no fairytale princesses.  They will not NEED a man to save them.  They will be able to look after themselves. They will be self-sufficient and well able to provide for themselves, to follow their dreams, to be “anything they want to be”… but can we stop already with telling them that they DON’T need to be girly?

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This teeshirt made me mad when I saw it a few weeks ago.  Yes, by all means encourage our daughters to believe that they can achieve anything they dream of and work for, but why do we need to tell them that being girly or wearing pink or dreaming of being a movie star are signs of weakness?  What the feck is wrong with wanting to be a movie star?  Are Megan Markle or KatyBaby failures because they found their Princes?

My daughters love dresses.  They love sparkles. They love makeup and dressing up and singing and being all round princesses.  They also love superheros, dress up as Hulk,  football and Pokemon and they play ninjas and wrestle.

There is no “That is for girls” or “That is for boys” in our house.

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Because that is not how to teach our children equality.

I like football. I like MMA. I swear more than a lady should. I train along with the menfolk in Jim and I prefer Marvel movies to Chickflicks.  In my work and projects, I take no prisoners and do not see any man as better than me.  And yet, I love to do all things “girly” too. and I love to dress up and I like sparkly shoes.

Does that make me less? Does the fact that I like pink and glitter and girly stuff make me weak? Because it seems to me that we’ve gone beyond telling girls they can be anything, we’ve gotten to the point that being girly is snubbed and scoffed at and actually looked down upon.

Well not on my watch.

I dress up and get my girly on, for me. Not for my Him or for anyone else.  For me. Because I am comfortable with who I am. And let me tell you, there is NO ONE who has watched as many Disney movies in their childhood (and still), as Me!

And my daughters will do what they want, how they want, Prince Charming or no Prince Charming, but they certainly will not be banned from watching Disney Movies, because all they see is a mermaid who sings songs and fights evil octopus monsters.

It’s a movie.

If you want your daughters to grow up strong and independent, teach them to be strong and independent…point out how old fashioned some of those Princesses are. (not all of them, for the newer ones are WICKED!  Merida, Mulan, Ana?)

And teach them that to be feminist does not mean hater of men.  It means equality for all. It means being able to stand up for themselves and to be a strong and independent woman, who can change the world and kick ass…whether in trousers and flats or in a skirt and glittery heels.

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Otherwise, they’ll end up offended by every man in the world and will need a big box of Man-sized…sorry, “extra large” Kleenex to wipe their offended eyes. I wonder when Manchester is being renamed? Peoplechester has a ring to it, don’t ya think?

Wear the pink, wear the glitter, wear the lipstick. Or don’t if you don’t want to … But be yourself and be strong and don’t let others tell you that you’re wrong. And then you might just live happily ever after.

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My Book Heroes – Review and Offer

Mini-Me is strong little lady.

She is determined and outspoken and incredibly bossy… but it’s been recently bothering us that her “leadership” skills are tending towards dictatorship.

In fairness, she’s grown up in a house where both parents are usually leading situations.  She sees The Him in charge in the gym, throwing out instructions and routines.  She sees Mammy in rehearsals, either calling out dance routines or directing the cast.  She sees us in charge of events we run and so maybe, our “get up and do it” example to her has been misunderstood.

Of course I want her to be a leader, but leadership has to be earned.  It doesn’t just happen over night.

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So I found this book at just the right time.

My Book Heroes allows you to created personalized story books where the main themes are Leadership, Courage and Determination.  You choose your own avatar for your child and can write your own dedication.

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Their own dedication reads “We hope every child sees the hero in themselves and we promise to bring you beautiful stories that inspire all kids to be the best version of themselves.”

Mini-Me LOVES it.   It goes through a lovely story where the main character has to help others solve problems.  It promotes taking steps to solve problems, inspiring others, communicating clearly and having fun as the key to being a good leader.

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It also shows how all of the characters have very different skills and talents and how their goal will only be achieved, if they all work together.

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Gorgeous messages throughout

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Lovely illustration

It’s nicely written, rhythmic and rhyming; and the illustrations are lovely.  Mini-Me loves having it read to her and she loves that it has herself as the main character.

These are lovely books and are available on their website. It’s easy to use and delivery was quick.  The quality of the book is lovely and it is fast becoming a favourite bedtime story here.

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I am working with My Book Heroes and so have a lovely 10% discount for anyone who orders through this link.

Just use the code SMUM10 at checkout and you’ll receive your discount.

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Failing to Fail

Why are we so determined to make sure our little darlings never know what it’s like to fail?

Why do we expect everyone to be a high flying “success” at everything?

When did failing at something become so terrible?

I grew up failing.  I failed plenty. I’m still failing.  And yet, each and every one of those failings was, and is, a learning.

Sometimes, no matter how many times I try and try and try at something, I fail.  Maybe I’m not meant to do it.  Maybe I’m not good enough at it.  Maybe, it’s not within my skill-set.

If it’s not happening, I have two choices;  I can keep going until I (maybe) do succeed. Or I can be proud that I tried but move on to another project, accepting that it’s just not going to happen

But either way, I’ve learned something.  I’ve either learned the right or successful way to do something, or I’ve learned something about ME; about my abilities and my limitations. Because, it’s OK to have limitations. And shock horror, it’s OK to know what YOUR Limitations are.  It actually helps.

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If they don’t run, they won’t fall… so how will they learn not to?

There is a massive problem in our society and it’s not just with our children.  There is and has been for many years,  a mistaken perception that we should teach our children that they “can do anything”; that they “can be anything”; that they can not lose or fail at anything.   That failure is not an option.

Well actually it is.  And I’d go so far as to say that failure is necessary.

 

The fear of failure is everywhere. None of us want our children to experience rejection or failure.  It’s evident at the school sports days, where we make them “race” and “compete” but then give them ALL a certificate or medal.  We see it in dance classes or drama groups, where they audition but ALL get onstage anyway.  We see it at football training,  or where the only options are “win” or “a tie”, so that no one has to lose.

Of course,  equality and inclusion are inherently important  in schools and clubs.  And most of these societies and organisations have individualized and tailored policies and programes in place to include everyone.  And so they should. Inclusion is not what I am talking about here.

But when in general, we are not rewarding the “winners” for fear of upsetting the person in 2nd place, or indeed 24th place, what we are creating is a generation who feel entitled.

We need to stop telling our kids that they can be “anything they want to be”.  We should be encouraging our children to try and try.  We should be telling them they can be what they want to be… IF they have that ability and are willing to work for it.

What is wrong with encouraging them to learn what their strengths and passions are?

What is wrong with encouraging them to try and to work to earn and to deserve the end goal, may that be a degree in medicine or a place on the football team?

What is wrong with our children knowing what they are good at and recognising what they are not so good at?

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How are they supposed to work towards improving and learning if they simply think they are entitled to an ‘A’ in an exam, or to the place on the team, or to a certain job because they’ve always been told they can be anything or do anything they want to do?

We do not all have the same skills.  We do not all have the same strengths. I can teach Shakespeare to a brick, but I couldn’t be a math teacher for all the tea in China, no matter HOW much I work for it.  And I wouldn’t be able to be a Doctor or surgeon, because I am way too emotional for such a job (and I’m probably not that academically able!)

Does that mean I am a failure?

Eh no.

Every Irish dancing feis I didn’t win, was a lesson.  It spurned me on. Every time I saw that a certain ‘Leah’ or ‘Clare’ was there, I knew that I most likely hadn’t a chance of anything higher than 3rd place. Did that mean I couldn’t dance? NO.  It just meant that those girls were better than me. They trained harder.  They had more talent. They deserved every medal and cup they won. They inspired me to push harder. Sometimes I won, sometimes I didn’t. It’s called life.

When I tried gymnastics, the day that I gave myself a black eye with my own knee was the day that I decided I was done.  Funnily enough Mum agreed.  Did I fail? No.  I was just shite at gymnastics!

When I got average results in my Junior and Leaving Cert, did I feel like a failure?  No.  I got what I deserved and I got out what I put in.  I had done my best.  And as long as I did my best, that was enough for my parents and it was enough for me.

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However, when I have won, or achieved or succeeded, it was celebrated.  Because I bust myself and try and graft and work and any other synonym you can imagine. And if I do succeed, I am proud of it, because it is mine and I have probably failed ten times before managing it.   If you burn the omelette and don’t try to make it again, how do you eat?

Every failed friendship I have, (and there are many), while heartbreaking to deal with, have all been for the best.

Every failed romance (yup many of those too!) teaches us something else important about ourselves and the person who is not right for us.

Every failed job or project or application or interview teaches us something.

For me, every time I auditioned, and was rejected, for a part in a show, , broke my heart a little.  Of course it did (and does). Let’s be honest, if I didn’t want the part, why would I go for it?  But rather than stomp my foot and think myself too good to return, I pulled up my big girl knickers and still joined the group; may it be to a smaller role or into the chorus.  Because I love it.  I don’t have to be the leading lady to have fun.

And our children need to understand that they don’t have to always win to be winners.  That they don’t always have to score the goals to be important to the team.  That even though they are doing their best, sometimes the person beside them is just a little bit better.  And sometimes, THEY will be that person and someone else will lose to them.

When we started to walk, we all fell…

And then we learned how NOT to fall. And eventually we walked, all by ourselves. (And sometimes, we still fall!) If we keep carrying our kids and our young people over every obstacle, how can we expect them to learn how NOT to fall?

Direct them, encourage them, support them.  But let them feel disappointment sometimes.  Let them learn to accept the success of others. And when they DO succeed, celebrate with them.

We have to sometimes fail to really appreciate succeeding.  We’re not entitled to anything.  We have to work and try and earn things.  Life will not simply give you things because you think you deserve it.  You get out what you put in.

And while we don’t want our kids to repeat our mistakes, we have to let them make their own, so that they walk by themselves.

Who knows, they might even fly.

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