The Public Badge of Good Motherhood

Argh.  I have inadvertently trained Piglet to gaze blankly at the television as if in a hypnotic trance.

Unfortunately, this does not only happen during In the Night Garden.  This was not supposed to happen.  I was supposed to be an earth mother, all joss sticks and babywearing, giving birth blissfully  in a bathtub surrounded by candles and incense, then holding the baby aloft as if he was the future leader of a pack of lions in a Disney musical.  I was supposed to fill Piglet’s days with classical music and brain-enhancing learning activities; he was supposed to be reading fluently by the time he turned one (there’s still time…Not that he paid much attention to tonight’s bedtime story, Flitter Flutter Butterfly).  He was not supposed to be wrenched out of me by a team of medical personnel in an operating theatre, following several hours of Mummy taking all the drugs the NHS could offer.  He was not supposed to be wheeled around in a pram for eternity because it has a shopping basket underneath which is just so damn convenient for carrying around all those spare nappies and the groceries.  And he was not supposed to be sat in front of the television like a zombie, silently taking in all that ITV can offer (reader, it wasn’t even BBC4).  By the time he’s three, he’ll doubtless be asking Mummy why we can’t track down his father using a DNA test and a lie detector on Jeremy Kyle.  

I have to admit, it is useful to be able to plonk Piglet in front of the television when Mummy needs to complete some pressing task, such as eating dinner, but isn’t motherhood supposed to be about self-sacrifice?  If I was any sort of mother I would surely have relinquished all food and be living on a diet of pure maternal love, ready to abandon dinner and jump into action like a coiled spring at the first sign of baby whimpering.  If I was any sort of mother I would have gone to bed long ago, instead of still sitting here at 11.15pm with a glass of wine, desperate for a few extra minutes of self congratulation at getting Piglet to bed, before he wakes up again.

Still, I did manage to tick off one box of the middle class mother questionnaire today.  Piglet and I attended a swimming class.  OH YES.  And Piglet excelled himself by not crying AT ALL.

I should probably not crack open the champagne just yet.  After all, we have another four weeks of swimming classes for him to get hysterical and/or poo in the pool, leading to a mass evacuation (if you’ll pardon the pun).  However, I will add that Piglet’s angelic calm-baby performance occurred in front of one of the other ladies from my NCT class, who was also swimming with her baby, so at least I was able to enjoy the Public Badge of Good Motherhood for an hour or so.  Those fraught hours spent searching Westfield for a reusable baby swim nappy yesterday were put to good use.

At least I appear to be keeping up a charade of reasonable competence at this job in public, even if in private Piglet is spending (considerably) more than the recommended upper limit of half an hour per day on television watching (as decreed by a poster in Wembley Children’s Centre).


8 Comments Add yours

  1. Dangermouse and I favour The Wright Stuff whilst Tigs is at pre-school. I’m clinging on to dear life to those last few months she will allow any form of grown up TV. Telly does drive me somewhat nuts by the afternoon though, hence our no TV play room / kitchen 6.00 dance offs. We bought DM a disco ball for her birthday last week so our house is the place to be at tea time, a proper Rave up I can tell you 😉 Thanks for linking up to #coolmumclub, you’re winning when you’re swimming! X

    1. Min says:

      LOVE. IT. I have a disco ball lamp from Ikea (now in storage along with every other thing I own that’s remotely nice) but I’m not sure if Piglet likes it. It got a rare outing back in May for the Eurovision Song Contest (crazy times) but Piglet hated it. I think the lights drove him a bit crazy. He’s quite a bit older now though so hopefully it will grow on him.

  2. Don’t feel guilty it
    1) taking your child to swimming classes is (in my opinion) way beyond the call of mum duty, when I hear mums talking about doing stuff like that I think Wow!
    2) you’re a human being too, even though you’re a mum you still have the right to eat drink and sleep, enjoy time away from your child.
    3) TV is great for kids!! Not a fan of Jeremy Kyle myself so never tried that one on the kids but my first boy was literally brought up watching tv, I even used to time his routine based on what was on, I’d force him to watch Waybaloo then it was nap time etc etc. Baby 2 has Homes under the Hammer inflicted on him. It won’t be long before you’ll no longer be worrying about how much tv they’re watching, instead how much ipad time they’re having.

    With my first baby I struggled with the concept of good enough mum, I wanted to be the best, I did the best I could in the circumstances but of course always felt I should be doing more/better. You know what, despite everything my boy is turning out fantastic! With baby 2 I’m embracing good enough mum, I’d love to have the time, energy, money to do more but I give everything I can (while trying to have something left for me) and love them both, which is the most important thing.

    Sorry for the long response, couldn’t read and run, you sound like you’re doing a great job and if your “public badge” isn’t shining gold then the “public” should go f**k itself!!

    1. Min says:

      Thank you, that’s really great advice. And don’t be sorry about the long response-I really appreciated it. Glad to hear your little ones are turning out just fine. I had a mini-worry today as Piglet has been out of sorts and wanting to be held all day, and sometimes I just have to put him down (to go to the loo, cook dinner, etc) and I feel awful when he’s there with his little arms outstretched!

  3. Rebecca says:

    I hear you! I was supposed to be an earth mother too. I still have dusty hypnobirthing cds on my shelf, and was supposed to give birth in a pool in my living room. In reality my birth sounds a lot like yours! AND I gave up swimming classes because they were £12 a session.. so you’re winning 🙂 Have a great weekend x #coolmumclub

    1. Min says:

      Sounds familiar! The worst thing was that one of the hypnobirthing books actually implied that the baby would be traumatised if their mode of birth was anything other than calm and stress-free-so by that reckoning most of us should be traumatised! I have to admit I was pretty puzzled as to why I seem to be perfectly well-adjusted despite being born by emergency C-section myself.

  4. imatwinmama says:

    I love this post! TV keeps me sane as I genuinely use it as a babysitter, and whilst I’d like to say I do it so I can get housework done, that’s only PARTLY true as i also use it as an opportunity for me to simply get away from the kids for a while. For that, I feel supremely guilty, but not guilty enough to stop doing it. Sometimes it’s because I get so fed up of the girls clambering all over me. Sometimes it’s because I can’t stand the sound of their crying/whinging/screaming a minute longer. Sometimes it’s because I find too much of their company just really boring.

    Queue another guilt trip.

    Am I the only one who sometimes just wants to get away and have some peace and quiet??!!

    God I love ’em though 😉

    1. Min says:

      Nope I think we all feel like that sometimes! Thanks for commenting.

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