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?