Kaz Cooke has the last word

It’s where our best, bright­est and fun­ni­est have their say.

The Australian Women's Weekly - - Contents - WITH Kaz Cooke

How did we get so bam­boo­zled about mother­hood? And how did we get so judgey?

Be sexy the mo­ment you come home with a new­born! Not that sexy, you strum­pet! Stay at home! Go to work! Don’t get iso­lated! Stay off so­cial me­dia! Car­ing about your ap­pear­ance is shal­low! Lose weight! Take time for your­self! Do all the house­work! And be sure to en­joy your new life as a whirl­wind of wet wipes and crit­i­cism.

When kids are lit­tle, get­ting any­thing else done is mirac­u­lous – like show­er­ing, or eat­ing some­thing that isn’t toast. Mean­while, your phone pings with an­other In­sta pic of a well-scrubbed cherub whose calm mum has a hairdo and an air of know­ing pre­cisely where she left her cup of tea. If not an out­right lie, it’s only a tiny sliver of re­al­ity.

Yet we judge our­selves by it.

Mind you, no­body wants to see your tod­dler on so­cial me­dia, fu­ri­ous that he is not, him­self, an ac­tual pen­guin, scream­ing un­til you lock him in a safe room. Nor the pic­ture of you on the kitchen oor cry­ing qui­etly and try­ing to get a whole

Kit Kat in your mouth – I would imag­ine.

Many par­ents don’t post pho­tos of their chil­dren in pub­lic be­cause when their daugh­ter is Prime Min­is­ter she won’t want pho­tos cir­cu­lat­ing of her naked self with half a Lego pok­ing out of one nos­tril. And with a no-pic pol­icy, who can prove you didn’t cel­e­brate your son’s birth­day by mak­ing a life-sized air­craft car­rier out of cheese­s­ticks? So put your kids on so­cial me­dia, or not, I won’t judge.

I won’t even judge if your next post shows your kids at a “hol­i­day re­sort” (back­yard) with Un­cle Trev mak­ing them roll his cig­a­rettes (“kids’ club ac­tiv­i­ties with hand-eye co­or­di­na­tion”) and tongue-kiss­ing his pug, Mr Mange (“wildlifespot­ting with the lo­cals”). Af­ter all, some Dads are prac­ti­cally ap­plauded if they can brush their own kid’s hair with­out break­ing a win­dow at the same time.

Let’s not buy into the fake, fancy lives on so­cial me­dia. If a wo­man re­ally ate noth­ing but drinks made of grass ad­ver­tised by su­per­mod­els and half an al­mond for lunch, she wouldn’t have a healthy glow and be able to swim twice around her yacht – she’d lie there like a dead Wet­tex.

I sus­pect that feel­ing in­se­cure is the real rea­son we judge oth­ers. If you’re un­sure of your­self, you’re more likely to point the nger at some­body else – “Look, over there! I have put poppy seeds in my hair; they are not in the least nits!” The truth is no mat­ter what you do, some­where, some­body will dis­ap­prove of you. But you can learn not to take it to heart. Think of ev­ery un­so­licited sug­ges­tion or mean com­ment on your par­ent­ing as a lit­tle in­sight into the per­son mak­ing it – not a re ec­tion on you. Be strong and se­cure enough to try not to judge oth­ers. (This takes prac­tice, of course. I’ve been work­ing on it for ... oh, about 20 years).

You can’t be a good mum, hold down a pay­ing job, main­tain a stun­ning gar­den, do most of the house­work, get enough sleep, draw a de­tailed map of Africa from mem­ory, have full make-up on, run a com­pany, teach yoga, crys­tallise your own rose petals for bak­ing dec­o­ra­tions, di­arise ev­ery­one’s play dates and nish sen­tences. You can prob­a­bly do two or three of those things re­ally well and bluff­fum­ble your way through an­other one. We’re all at out, so it’s time we stopped at­ten­ing each other.

If you walk past a mum with a kid hav­ing a full-on, shriek­ing, vi­brat­ing tantrum, smile at her in sol­i­dar­ity. If you see a fran­tic dad de­liver a kid to school in a Book Week cos­tume that’s made from torn-out pages from a book sta­pled to a towel and worn as a cloak, just say “Yay, you’re a book! Give us a twirl!”

In other words, don’t judge oth­ers and don’t judge your­self too harshly – be­cause if you’re be­ing judgey, I will to­tally judge you for it.

Kaz Cooke is the au­thor of the new book Ba­bies & Tod­dlers, the se­quel to Up The Duff, The Real Guide to Preg­nancy; Girl Stuff 8-12 and Girl Stuff: Your Full-on Guide to the Teen Years.

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