parent opinion

"I haven’t forgotten how her words made me feel." A so-called mum friend shamed me for my house.

"I don’t know how you can live like this!"

These are the words that came out of the mouth of a former friend as she walked through my home, to pick up her daughter that I had just looked after.

I still haven’t forgotten the way her words made me feel that day. It was this judgemental attitude from someone I thought was a fellow understanding mum, a neighbour, a so-called friend, that made me realise that other mums can be the most judgemental people of all.

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The amusing thing about the comment was that as a former perfectionist, it’s always been ingrained in me to keep my house as neat as I can. Well, as tidy and clean as a mum of three kids possibly can. 

No matter how many times I vacuum and mop, there’ll always be more crumbs and two additional sticky spillages to replace the last ones.

But this former friend of mine wasn’t talking about the mess, she was talking about the state of my 'heaven-forbid-anyone-should-live-like-this', un-renovated house. 

I realised in that instant something I had suspected for some time: that to be this person’s friend, my life had to be picture perfect and Instagram-worthy, just like hers was. 

Before those words came out of her mouth, apart from my own occasional frustrations at having to share one very old and very pink bathroom between five of us, I’d never had a problem living in a partially renovated house. 

I have always been grateful just to have a family and a roof over my head. But my husband and I figured we may as well let our kids be kids and not live in a house where we had to be ‘precious’ about whether they drew on our walls or scratched our flooring. 


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Social media is playing a huge part in placing additional pressure on mums to be just like she is: judgemental perfectionists, living more through their unrealistic Instagram accounts than they are their real lives. 

These women are so focused on showing fellow mums how great they and their lives are, that they fail to recognise their toxic perfectionism and positivity is actually making other mums feel like crap.

They’re also the reason so many mums fall prey to trying so hard to ‘have-it-all’: to be a hardworking, successful mumpreneur; to be the aesthetically beautiful mum to perfect looking children; to be the mum who still looks 25 even though they’re 40, to be the mum who has a personal trainer and manages morning meditation AND five yoga sessions a week; to be the mum who only allows her children organic foods and lives in a toxin-free home; to be the mum who treats every room in their house like it needs to be magazine shoot ready in an instant, yet still insist in their posts that their house really is a terrible mess

Being a mum like her just sounds exhausting. 

Because It’s ok if your house is a shambles and would in no way be fit to feature in a magazine. It’s ok if you can’t afford Botox, or organic foods (your kids are not going to die drinking cordial and eating Vegemite sandwiches on white bread, we didn’t); it’s ok if you don’t have a personal trainer or a gym membership; it’s ok if you’re looking a little rough today and you forgot to brush your hair let alone your kids', and it’s definitely ok not to share this or every detail of your mum life on social media.

These social media savvy mums with incredibly high standards are, as a kind woman said to me the other day, "not your real friends". They just want your likes.

Your real friends will walk into your imperfect home and not even comment on the state of it because theirs look just as bad. They’ll ask how you are, ask how your kids are going, and they’ll say a big fat yes to the offer of a chinwag and a glass of wine.

Lidija Zmisa is a mum of three girls, wife and writer. You can follow her on Instagram @lidijazmisa

Feature Image: Getty. 

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