the naughtiest girl goes to a party

This blog was first published on Web Child, but I was chatting to a friend about this topic again today and encountered the exact same nervous laughter I wrote about here. What do you think?

I’ve been told off by another mum. It happened a few months ago but I have only just picked up my jaw from where it dropped with an incredulous clatter.

The event was a kid’s birthday party. I grabbed a cupcake and sought out a seat next to an intelligent, articulate, nurturing and occasionally irreverent friend – who is also the fantastic mother of three amazing kids. We became engrossed in a frank and honest discussion when one of the other mums – overhearing our chat – stood up, leaned over the table and admonished us by saying, “Ladies, there are some things we just don’t talk about.”

I don’t know if the term ‘gobsmacked’ means ‘being smacked in the gob’ but that is exactly how I felt. My friend and I looked at each other, literally stunned speechless.

So what were we talking about in our little Bad Mothers’ Club of two? Well, we were talking about how ugly our kids had been when they were born.

Fact: My daughter, Indy, was not a good looking newborn – and I have the photos to prove it. My husband and I both agree. When we would take our baby bundle with her funny little features and her crazy hair to the local supermarket in those early days, the usual comment we got from strangers was, “He’s a cute little fella.” The inherent dishonesty in these compliments was blindingly obvious as we grinned at our daughter dressed from head to toe in pink florals.

Whenever I recount the story of my daughter’s aesthetically-challenged appearance I have come to expect other parents to either recoil in horror or to laugh nervously as if I had suddenly revealed a desire to pole dance at Kindergym. Perhaps they are confused and think that I am saying that I don’t love my daughter. But Luke and I are besotted with Indiana, and have been from the very moment she was born. We thought that we had created the world’s most perfect child. Her looks were less than insignificant.

But back to the birthday party. I don’t know how I got into the ‘ugly baby’ discussion with my friend but, rather than the usual polite smiles and deft change of topic, she laughed loudly and regaled me with a story about her very own ugly baby.

We had found in one another a kindred spirit, which I believe is one of the saving graces of parenthood – someone who ‘gets’ you. We both declared long and loud about how the funny looking creatures we had given birth to hadn’t emerged from the womb picture-perfect and camera-ready.

But perhaps we were a bit too long, a bit too loud, because we ended up feeling like two naughty girls telling rude jokes at the back of the classroom.

I have recovered from the ‘telling off’ but I do find that I am a little more wary of sharing my motherhood secrets. I have also found myself second guessing what may or may not be the ‘taboos’ of parenting. But I have concluded that, for me, there are no taboos. Authenticity is my goal and if that means the occasional dressing down at a birthday party then I shall gladly grow myself a thicker layer of skin.

And, just for the record, my daughter has blossomed into a gorgeous seven-year-old. Not that it matters because my heart could not adore her any more if she was the Miss Universe of seven-year-olds.

Have you ever been told off by another parent? Do you think there are any parenting taboos? Do you seek out kindred spirits on your parenting journey?

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “the naughtiest girl goes to a party

  1. Heath

    Oh how I can relate. We have one photo inparticular of our first born daughter that makes her look like Gollum from Lord of the Rings.

  2. Nicky

    I think it’s funny that this other person thought it was her place to tell you what you could & could not talk about. Wasn’t as if you were talking about somone else’s child and being nasty. Crazy!
    I think we all look for kindred spirits through our lives and you are lucky to find one!

  3. actually I think one of the few parenting taboos is telling off other peoples children when the parent is there instead of talking to the parent, and abusing your or any other child in any way, or hurting your or any other child (emotional and/or physical) – I cannot come up with any others – obviously if you had been loudly discussing how horrific one of the children looked at the party I’d understand – but seriously, you were tlaking about your child and you cannot express an oppinion Pfft. It’d really bother me though and I’d start questioning and doubting myself, but from the outside – nothing wrong at all – in fact I’d probably chime in that my gorgeous son was so yellow when he was born that he matched his very yellow jumpsuit in his first baby pictures 🙂

  4. OMG – are you me? (Well we both know you’re not, but still.) I have a baby photo of my son (a gorgeous 9 year old now) and he is a dead ringer for Uncle Fester. My husband and I often giggle at it and say “Well we thought he was beautiful”. He is my only son and to me he was and is and always will be the most gorgeous boy in the world.

    I guess there will always be people who don’t quite “get” others and the way they are in their families. I probably don’t “get” them either.

    But I coulda photoshopped a lightbulb into his mouth in that pic. I’m just sayin’.

  5. A friend of mine told me about this conversation between her pregnant sister and their Mum:

    Pregnant sister: ‘Mum, will you tell me if my baby is ugly? No one seems to be able to see it with their own baby, so you have to tell me. OK?’

    Mum: ‘Sure, of course I will’ (Mum is known for honesty, so she genuinely intends to follow through on this promise)

    Baby is born and he is the ugliest baby ever.

    ‘Oh Mum, isn’t he the most beautiful baby you’ve ever seen?!’

    Mother hesitates… intending to tell the truth…

    ‘Yes darling, he is perfect.’

    Awww…

  6. Oh Jayne, you naughty, naughty mummy!! LOL
    How ridiculous.
    I would have laughed with you…and then told you that my two were the most beautiful angels born on earth…yeah right! 😉
    Good on you for saying what you want.

  7. Pamela

    Entertaining post….I enjoyed it.

    Take the Parenting Style Test and find out your parenting style quotient….I have taken the test and enjoyed a lot. Hope u 2 will enjoy….Have Fun!

  8. Carol

    My gorgeous and handsome (now) six year old son was the Potato-Headed Baby for a year or so! Absolute fat, round, bald potato head! Ugly? No, way too much of a potato to be ugly!

  9. I have been told off repeatedly for overpopulating the world. Usually by grumpy old men and little old spinsters but still.

    My eldest and my youngest both looked like rhesus monkeys for the first few weeks of their lives and I was often grumbled at when I mentioned it but it was true. They were cute little monkeys for sure but not beautiful cherubic newborns.

    My singleton (with a set of twins on either side) had this amazing sticky up hair that did not sit flat until she was eight months old.
    I used to put hats on her after a midwife said something like “Oh, she’s one of THOSE babies”

    The thing is you can’t win.
    Everyone will find something to fault because then I was in strife for covering up her crowning glory.

  10. Someone very close to me has a beautiful teenage child now but when he was born he could seriously have scared a hungry dog out of a butcher’s shop. We laugh about it now because he is a handsome well-adjusted lad but even his parents, when people would say “ohhh… he’s a cutey” would reply, “it’s OK, we know he’s ugly”. If you can’t be honest about your own kids, then who CAN you be honest about?

  11. Pingback: skin deep « the best of all possible worlds

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