kids

"You need to drop the mother guilt": A message to Bluey's mum, Chilli.

Firstly Chilli, I wanted to start by saying that I bloody love your work. Motherhood is a tough gig, babe. The tumultuous territory of raising small humans (or… ahhh… dogs, in your case) can be rough, and you nail it lady.  

But… I need to be honest with you about something.  

You need to drop the mother guilt trope. You need to do it for yourself, your kids, and I don’t want to put too much pressure on you… but for women all over Australia.  

Watch: Parents and kids alike are loving ABC Kids' Bluey. This is why. Post continues below.


Video via ABC

This morning (at 5:15am when my seven-year-old decided to start her day – yay for six weeks of holidays), I agreed to watching the latest episode of Bluey. 

My husband and I do this often. We love having you in our lounge room. We laugh with you. We cry with you. He declares ‘you’re such a Chilli’ and I’m like ‘why can’t you be more like Bandit?’ 

But this morning Chilli… I’m not proud to admit this, I just.. well… I got really cranky with you.  

The episode was ‘Whale Watching’ and it features you and (aforementioned Dad who makes every Australian woman I know wonder if maybe they’re mildly attracted to a fictional dog) Bandit lying in the family room, nursing what appears to be a hangover.  

No, no, no – this isn’t about the the perils of ‘wine time’ for Mums. There’s no judgement here Chilli. You need to blow off some steam from time to time and if having some wines is your jam then I am all for it. 

Bluey actually mentioned something about you dancing on Muffin’s parents BBQ table! I hope Muffin’s mum joined you. She needs to let her hair down (just between you and me that Muffin is a bit of a twat).  

So… your daughters were begging you to play. To be specific, you were requested to embody the role of ‘The Whale’. 

You did the best a dehydrated and exhausted mum can do… you gave half-arsed attempts at whale sirens, pretended whales ate corn chips and sour cream and got your girls to fetch them for you (truly inspirational) – basically, you did your best to tap out.  

Chilli, I was so proud of you. You NEVER tap out. 

ADVERTISEMENT

Your family begged you to jump like a whale. You needed to be unconscious in a dark air-conditioned room. You needed a large Frozen Coke and a Sausage and Egg McMuffin. Not jumping.  

It was then… then that you did what I have been waiting for you and old mate to do for years. 

You turned on a freaking screen and declared, and I quote, ‘it has to be done.’ 

Image: Supplied.

This was a glorious moment for me. I found myself giving you and Bandit a standing ovation, complete with a slow clap, my face awash with pride.  

If the episode ended there, with you snoozing on the couch… or maybe grabbing your phone and mindlessly scrolling through Dogstagram, I would have been elated. But it didn’t. 

What happened next made me pufferfish.

As you lay there and your girls (quite contently I might add) watched a documentary on whales (because of course your screen time had to be educational and ‘topic relevant to the role play’ – eye roll, but I get it), you listened to the narrator talk about the bond between the mother and their calf. How there is nothing a whale Mumma wouldn’t do for her whale baby. 

Bandit, the bugger, made some comment about how their bond was amazing. 

I’m going to go ahead and give him the benefit of the doubt – I don’t think he was doing this to make you feel bad. I think he was just being a bit of a thoughtless tosser.  

So, I’m watching you as you let this guilt wash over you. I’m watching you as you let it sink in to your ears and then your brain and finally, your heart. 

I’m watching you as that guilt tells you that you’re not being ‘enough’ because we, ‘as mothers’, need to give and give and give.

ADVERTISEMENT

Even when our bones are heavy with fatigue, our souls sucked dry and our heads aching from (God forbid) a moment where we decided to taste some freedom.   

You let that marinade of mother guilt envelop you… and you jumped. You jumped Chilli. You defied gravity and leapt from the couch giving the best whale impersonation a dog has ever done.  

And you know, I get it. I do. You dug deep, you showed up for your girls and they were delighted. They laughed and went off and engaged in more ‘independent creative play’, no longer interested in the screen (probs because it was a documentary and not kids unboxing toys on YouTube – just saying). And the message that sometimes all kids need is a tiny bit of connection and attention and blah blah blah was foregrounded.  

I get it, but I’m over it.  

I’m over the pressure of ‘the bond’. I would be the first one to tell you that motherhood is the most profoundly wonderful thing I have had the privilege of doing with my life. But I’m also the first one to tell you that it’s bullshit. 

It’s too hard. All this giving and bonding and digging deep. And I feel like this all-encompassing guilt to ‘play’ and ‘connect’ and ‘be available 100 per cent of the time’ is new to this current generation of mothers. It wasn’t a mother’s job to play in the 80s, that’s why you had 11 siblings.  

And another thing babe… I did a little Google to find out exactly how long the whale mammas maintained their ‘extraordinary bond’ for and guess what - the little baby whales start their fully functioning independent lives at the ripe old age of… one. 

Old love whale, whilst an absolute legend I’m sure, only has to maintain this ‘bond’ jig for 12 months. 

Bravo lady whale… but I think the real MVP has to be the mothers who are still washing their 24-year-old son’s sheets.  

So anyway love, I hope I haven’t overstepped the mark. I just want you… no, I need you to lead the way.

We’re playing the long game here and the expectations that are stipulated in the invisible cultural contract of our ‘intense bond’ with our children is going to break us. 

Yes, we are mothers, but let us never forget that we are first and foremost women.

Women who are not completely comprised of their identity as mothers. Women who are, first and foremost, individuals who don’t have to give every ounce of themselves to their children. Women who need to fight, for their right… to dance on BBQ tables. 

Jane Hultgren is a mother of two, English and Drama Highschool teacher, playwright and lover of Salt and Vinegar chips.

Feature Image: ABC Kids.

Do you manage the household chores? We want to hear from you! Take our survey and you could be one of four to win a $50 gift voucher!