Yesterday I posted a status update on our Larger Family Life Facebook page about how, when asked to tidy the living room, my children took the toys into the hallway and started playing there instead. This received a lot of ‘likes’ in a short space of time and I wondered, why are people liking that my house is still messy?
I thought about it. Most of the positive comments and support have been on the ‘negative’ posts I’ve written. My admittance that my home is not a showhome, or my confession that I am not Supermum seemed to give the okay to other mums to go ahead and admit that they know exactly what I mean because they’ve been there too.
And so by making my own shortfalls and failings public I gave the nod to others and the reassurance that it is not a big issue to admit that life and kids and family isn’t all Brady Bunch perfection. Because we certainly aren’t that.
I quickly realised that it’s not the fact that my house is messy that they’re liking. Or that my kids don’t necessarily always obey first time. Or second. Or even third. It’s that my kids are probably like theirs and these are scenarios that they’re familiar with too.
I don’t need a parenting ‘expert’ to tell me what my child’s psychological issue is for putting a toy car down the toilet resulting in a back-up of… back-up stuff. I just want another parent to say, oh yes, mine did that with Barbie’s torso.
I don’t want someone to tell me how my drinking carbonated caffeine drinks throughout my pregnancy resulted in the child developing a necessary need to empty just opened bottles of shampoo into the toilet to watch the ‘lots of bubbles, Mama!’ foam and pop. I want another parent to tell me that their kid rubbed a whole jumbo tub of Sudocrem into the cat’s fur and the newly deep cleaned carpets.
I don’t want someone with letters after their name and no experience of children of their own to tell me that the ice lolly my child had two weeks ago caused a delayed reaction whereby they felt the need to carry buckets of water to make a sea on their new, blue carpet because they wanted to turn their room into the seaside. (Ben and Stephanie did this fifteen years ago. If I haven’t forgotten it now I never will. I don’t care that you are both almost in your twenties. Mummy likes chocolate). I want another mum or dad to tell me about the time their cute little angel emptied copious bags of flour that had been bought on BOGOF all over the downstairs, upstairs and on the stairs because they wanted to bake a birthday cake even though nobody had a birthday to celebrate.
I don’t want to be told of my failings and of all the things I *should* have done that would have prevented ‘x’ from happening.
I want reassurance that it’s not just my kids that do kid things.
I want reassurance that my kids are (fairly) normal kids and that I am a (fairly) normal parent.
I want reassurance that other people struggle with messy homes, that they have to jump over assault courses made of toys, that they’ve stepped on squished banana that someone dropped and didn’t pick up and admitting that they too have threatened that, “if this place isn’t tidied by the time I come back in the room I’ll be back with a bin bag and tidying them myself and won’t the bin men be happy?!” – all said in staccato shouty voice with accompanying pointy finger thrust towards said mess in perfect beat to the threat – and not the patient and pleasant yet firm calm tone that I personally think is a fictional attribute that said ‘experts’ have created to further increase our feelings of inadequacy.
I want to know that we are all in the same parenting boat because, by jolly jeepers, if it sinks then I am taking every one of you down with me!
To you ‘experts’ I say this: I am not a failed parent. I am not inadequate. I just have kids. Real ones. Who do real things. They don’t read your books and neither do I. Sometimes my way of doing things might not be something you’d recommend in your book. But they work. Sometimes your way of doing things are just plain silly. But they make you money.
When it comes to comparing real parenting, to sharing stories and to asking for help I know where I’ll be turning.
To the real parents who are in the same boat as I am.
Whether it’s sinking or not.