When a ‘smug mum’ moment lead to a realisation…

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Last week I had the loveliest day. It was a completely normal day – it was Thursday, the one day of the week when I have Max all to myself with no activities planned.  I don’t often take Max out for a proper meal with just the two of us as it can often be a bit of a battle to keep him amused, but that day we stopped at Bill’s for some brunch as a treat.

 

From the moment we walked in, Max was the most angelic child – smiling and flirting with the waitress, sitting patiently in his high chair opposite me while we quietly read Postman Bear as we waited for our food, and then charming the two ladies who came in later and sat down next to us. Max and I were happy chatting  (in as limited a conversation as you can have with an under two year old), playing with the few toys I’d bought with me, reading some books, and basically having a lovely time together. It was a moment when I realised that I was really genuinely enjoying my son’s company.

 

Are you ever aware of being watched? I was very aware of it while we were sat down – every now and again I’d look up and notice someone looking at us and I’d give them a smile. As the meal went on I caught numerous comments about how lovely and how well behaved Max was. I’ll admit – we walked out of that restaurant and I felt like a pretty amazing mother right there – complete smug mum moment that would no doubt bite me on the bum later on!

 

But then I got thinking – why am I basing how good a mother I feel on how well my child behaves? Or how other people are judging us? For one thing, he’s a toddler – he’s learning about how to behave in the world, how to interact with people, how to be polite, it’s only to be expected that he’ll misbehave. He’s testing the boundaries and learning how the world works and that’s completely normal. The same angelic child that those restaurant goers witnessed was throwing an almighty tantrum only that morning because he felt that shoes were an unnecessary addition to a trip out of the house (Mummy disagreed).

From little angel to screaming banshee in the flash of an eye!

Cutie Max edit

Tantrum Max edit

But at the core of it is this: it’s easy to be that stereotypical ‘good mum’ when your child is behaving well. And I realised that I’ve been equating being a ‘good mum’, with how much of my time is spent doing the fun parenting things – reading stories, playing, laughing together – all the things that I pictured myself doing when I thought about being a parent pre-kids. My pre-kids, rose-tinted version of ‘good mum’ did not involve picking my screaming child up off the floor because I said he couldn’t have another biscuit. There were more trips to the park in my version, fewer moments of trying to wrestle another child’s toy out of my child’s hand. More watching Disney films, less being hit. You catch my drift.

 

But I don’t need to tell you that that’s not what being a ‘good mum’ is about. All of those nice things are just enjoying being a mum; it’s the fun stuff, and it’s great to enjoy it, but it really has no bearing on your parenting. That’s the stuff that comes easily.

 

It’s when your child is misbehaving that you have to work hard at being a ‘good mum’ – keeping your temper, saying the right thing. And like anything difficult, because you have to work hard at it, the obvious leap is to doubt yourself, to feel like you’re not doing a good job, to feel that others are judging you. Leaving aside the inevitable moments where you don’t get it right, where you do lose your temper and where if you could rewind time you’d love a chance to do it again differently.

 

As we charter our way into the stormy seas of the Terrible Twos, I hope that I can remember these thoughts and not see Max’s behaviour and my parenting standards as being linked. To have a more positive basis for my self-esteem as a parent – to recognise the good things I’m doing and focus on those.

 

32 Comments
  • Life is Knutts
    March 4, 2016

    You’re so right! We always base our success on the thoughts and opinions of others. We need to be more sure of ourselves and remind ourselves that we are doing a good job.
    Lovely post and I’m glad Bills was enjoyable!
    We enter the terrible 2s on Monday…ill be riding those waves with you!x

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      March 4, 2016

      It’s silly really – that it takes a moment like this to make you realise that that’s what you’re basing your own judgement on.

      Oh, good luck to you! It’s always good to know other people are going through it with you – I’m bracing myself!

  • Little Steps
    March 4, 2016

    Great post Katy! You are so right. As mothers, a lot of us are guilty of feeling exactly like that. And you are also spot on when you wrote that it’s about handling difficult situations as a mother and that’s when our parenting skills are really put on a test 😉 x

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      March 4, 2016

      Thanks Dean – it’s a little more difficult to remember this when you’re in the eye of a tantrum storm, but I’m determined to try!

  • Laura @dearbearandbeany
    March 4, 2016

    Great post. I think you are spot on! Those moments we walk out of a restaurant having survived, yes we should be pleased we got through it, but your right its not what makes us a good mum. If those people had witnessed you dealing with the tantrum, they should have the same thoughts, she is doing a good job at dealing with a difficult situation, but sadly this rarely happens x

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      March 4, 2016

      Thanks Laura – it’s silly isn’t it. I guess part of it is people’s nostalgia about raising their own children (I tend to find most comments, positive and negative, come from the older generation) – they don’t want to remember the tantrums!

  • Angela Milnes
    March 5, 2016

    Good point! I used to think my parenting was base on how well people thought i did it, but i know im a great parent and don’t care what others think now. I enjoyed this post. Interesting read.

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      March 6, 2016

      Thanks Angela. I completely agree – the only opinion of your parenting that should matter or carry any weight is your own. If we can have more confidence in ourselves as parents I think the world would be a much better place.

  • Emma Haverty
    March 5, 2016

    Great post, I think its really important too that we don’t judge ourselves too hard on the days when our little ones are not so angelic too. I was in a coffee shop today with my 2 year old who was on his best behaviour for the first 20 min receiving all the glowing complements and then all of a sudden he flipped and was none to happy that it wasn’t time to go home yet! Best behaviour – gone!

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      March 6, 2016

      Absolutely! I think we need to give ourselves more of a break in general – there’s enough judgement going on without adding to it ourselves (easier said than done!)

  • MudpieFridays
    March 6, 2016

    Sounds like a great lunch, completely agree with the rest of your post too. I sometimes get caught up in the fun stuff and if we have a weekend where we don’t do much as we have chores or decorating to do (we are on a tight timeframe on two bedrooms before baby 2 arrives) I feel as though I’ve failed. However at 3.5 Monkey is a challenge and needs reminding everyday about his behaviour. So maybe I am not failing on those weekends after all … xx

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      March 8, 2016

      I think that’s a big part of it – we want to make things fun for our kids and ‘life’ often gets in the way – it doesn’t mean that you’re doing a bad job if everything’s not fun all the time (for you or your kids!)

  • Tania @ Larger Family Life
    March 6, 2016

    What a great post. And what a gorgeous little boy you have too – tantrums and all!

  • Ana De Jesus
    March 6, 2016

    What a wonderful lunch and you are right we need to stop judging ourselves. Some days work out better than others and that is ok it does not mean you are doing a bad job!

  • Louise George
    March 7, 2016

    Sounds like you and Max had a really lovely lunch. I think that feeling of being a good parent when your child is being angelic is one that most of us can relate to – those moments when parenting seems to come easily and it’s fun. As you say, our child’s behaviour does not reflect whether we are good or bad parents – small children do have temper tantrums and meltdowns and no-one has a child that is angelic all the time! It’s always good to be reminded that struggling with the challenging moments does not make us bad parents – we all have those moments and sometimes focusing and remembering the good moments help us to get through them a little more easily 🙂

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      March 8, 2016

      Thanks Louise – always good to know that other people relate as well and you’re not the only one! I’m big on focussing on the positives – it’s just remembering them in the moment that can sometimes be a bit more difficult.

  • One Yummy Mummy
    March 7, 2016

    sounds like a lovely lunch .. i have worked with children all my adult life.. and ive never met one thats angelic all the time.. they all have their moments … and every parent knows that.. we have to stop being so hard on our self!!

  • Becky | Spirited Puddle Jumper
    March 8, 2016

    Great post (and the lunch sounds like the holy grail of dining out with a toddler!). I agree that we judge so much of the ‘good’ parenting on whether or not the kids behave, and feel bad if they don’t. Mine are a little older now, but still really challenge me/us at times. I feel like i’m winning at this whole parenting thing when I’ve got through the day and dealt with anything thrown at me in a calm(ish) way, although it’s bloody hard sometimes! x

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      March 8, 2016

      Thanks Becky – that’s the definition of a winning day for me too! Being patient is not my strongest suit, and parenting pushes it to the limit!

  • Elsie Pop
    March 8, 2016

    Great post! For the record though, from a non-mum perspective I feel a lot of sympathy for mums dealing well with tantrums – the level of patience that requires is one of the things I doubt about my ability to mother anything. I strongly suspect that faced with a tantrum about biscuits I’d just snap and do a fake walk-off! I think what I’m trying to say is that, even when you feel like you’re a bad mum, you might be surprised by how many people think you’re doing great. And Max is adorable – love the contrasting pics! xx

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      March 8, 2016

      Thanks Louise, patience is not my strong point! And I am currently employing the walk off technique at home – his current trick is to stand at the kitchen cupboard and just bawl for a treat. The walk off is the most effective trick!

  • Island Living 365
    March 9, 2016

    A great post and fantastic point well made. Us Mummies are all guilty of judging how good a job we are doing by the behaviour of our children when we shouldn’t be as this is them learning 🙂 #bloggersclubuk

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      March 9, 2016

      It’s such a simple and obvious thing, isn’t it, but I think so many of us unconsciously judge ourselves based on it – it’s been a bit of a revelation for me!

  • Rhi
    March 9, 2016

    People shouldn’t judge parents on how toddlers are behaving. Toddlers can be adorable little jerks. 🙂

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      March 10, 2016

      Adorable little jerks is about right – just when you think you’ve had an awful day they charm you back round with a hug and a kiss. So cunning!

  • Babies, biscuits and booze
    March 10, 2016

    This is really interesting and so true. My baby is generally quite relaxed but started crying in a restaurant the other day (typically when my husband was in the loo!) and wasn’t calming down. I felt pretty rubbish about it which is ridiculous; he’d just woken up in a strange, fairly loud place – no wonder he was crying! I think people can make parents with small children and babies feel as though they shouldn’t be out or that they need to control their children better etc, which is awful. And as you say it’s the way we deal with these things which make us better parents.
    Love the pictures – Max is gorgeous! #BloggerClubUK

  • Becky, Cuddle Fairy
    March 14, 2016

    Ya you are absolutely right! Just because a child has a public melt down doesn’t mean the parent is a bad one or the child is a bad one. I know what you mean about feeling you are being watched – I think people like to watch babies as they are entertaining. But often I feel like we are in a show of some kind. That can add a lot of pressure! Thanks so much for sharing with us at #bloggerclubuk x

  • Katie LifeOnVista Haydock
    March 23, 2016

    Ha ha! Love this – it’s what kiddies do best… but at least they make us look good sometimes. They hate us in Costa as my Little Miss just seems to go wild in there. But the trick to a happy Cafe Nero visit…? A sticker book! Ha ha xxxx

    • Katy | Hot Pink Wellingtons
      March 25, 2016

      A sticker book is the absolute best toddler invention, isn’t it? Max can amuse himself for ages with stickers (which given his normal attention span, is amazing!)

  • Squished blueberries
    March 29, 2016

    So true! The rubbish hard parts of parenting are the most important ones to try and get right. But by the way it sounds like you are far more than a ‘good mum’ you sound like a flipping awesome mum to me!

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