Kaz Cooke has the last word
It’s where our best, brightest and funniest have their say.
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.