kids

"Sending an invoice for shoes doesn't make this woman a 'bad mother'."

It’s hard to know what mum Sarah Louise Bryan was thinking when she sent a $548 invoice to a friend after a playdate that left her daughter’s designer shoes ‘ruined’ by permanent marker and excessive scuffing.

We don’t know a lot about her aside from the fact she is 28, a designer and an actress, and once gained some notoriety for designing a dress made of Skittles, then one made out of donated pubic hair.

We know she was upset when three-year-old daughter Isabella returned from a playdate with her ruined booties. We know she invoiced the other parent for the cost, believing she was well within her rights to demand payment seeing as they were ruined at that person’s home while they were in charge of her daughter.

We also now know, thanks to sensationalist British TV host Piers Morgan’s badgering of her, that Bryan did in fact drop her daughter off with another pair of shoes intended for that sort of play.

What we don’t know is the instructions she left with the other parent, or what kind of mother she is.

Image via Instagram (@itssarahbryan)

The fact so many people have chosen to label this young mum a 'bad parent' is disturbing. As all parents know, who we are as a parent can't be judged by one poor choice. But apparently a young mother-of-two, who has the audacity to try to attract publicity so she can fulfill her dreams of becoming a designer and/or actress, warrants the sort of backlash she is receiving. For asking for the money for ruined shoes.

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The email read:

So Isabella has just come home from her playdate with your child and I am disgusted to see her new Italian leather shoes are all scuffed and have a Sharpie mark on them.

Below is the bill for these replacing because they can not be fixed these are fine Italian leather! As a designer I do not want my child to look anything less than pristine.

Bill for a replacement pair of Italian fur booties £325 (AU$548) to be paid by 01/02/2017 before I take this higher. Thank you. Sarah.

It caused an internet frenzy. Yet rather than focusing on disbelief or conversations with parent friends over whether we'd invoice each other for ruined items, the vitrol was directed squarely at the young mum — who has since been called a 'rich bitch', a 'bad mum', 'beyond stupid', 'petty', 'pathetic', an 'idiot', 'materialistic' and a 'raging narcissist' by people who should know better than to jump to such harsh conclusions about someone they don't even know.

There is one person, and one person only, who should be angry at Bryan for sending a $548 invoice for designer shoes that had no place at a toddler playdate, and that's the parent who received the invoice.

As for everyone else, it's really none of our business. Who are any of us to judge someone by one choice, one act, one decision?

Sarah Louise Bryan is not a bad mum.

UK TV host Piers Morgan was accused of 'bullying' after interviewing Bryan on Good Morning Britain. Image: ITV
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Maybe she should have known a toddler playdate would result in ruined shoes or dirty clothes. Maybe she should have known what she was in for by agreeing to be interviewed by someone like Piers Morgan on Good Morning Britain, who referred to her as the worst kind of parent.

Bryan started off by trying to explain why she sent the invoice, saying, “If you sent your child somewhere to be looked after by a responsible parent and they came back with scratches on their body…”

Morgan interrupted her. “You’re not a responsible parent… you’re the worst kind.”

Why has Bryan reacted in such an extreme way to her daughter returning with ruined designer shoes? After hearing her defense, I wonder if the damage to the shoes left her feeling as though her daughter wasn't properly cared for during the playdate; that if her shoes can come back in such a different state she could easily have come back with an injury.

Having cared for more children than I can count during playdates, and not returning all of them in pristine condition - some cuts, bruises, scratches, dirty clothes - I can vouch for the fact it is scary leaving your kids with someone else and hard to care for other people's children.

But we try. We all do our best.

Bec Sparrow and Jo Abi discuss the Digital Playdate - what is it and what are the rules - on Intel podcast The Parent Code. (Post continues after audio.)

The bottom line is that from this one choice Bryan has made and her continued defense of it, it's a stretch to decide she is a 'bad mum'.

Nothing stings more than being called a bad parent by other parents. We don't know who anyone is, what motivates them, what their life is like, what they go through and what their struggles are, so who are we to judge them so harshly?

I hope Sarah Louise Bryan and the friend who received the invoice come up with a way to sort the issue out. I hope Bryan realises she should dress her daughter in play clothes for a playdate, and not something that could be easily ruined.

Her tears were real after the interview with Piers Morgan, her distress over the ruined shoes palpable in the email she sent.

We are all different parents who make different choices, and those differences and choices don't mean we are bad parents.

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