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Mums feel judged when their babies cry? Really, is that all?

Mums complain that they feel judged when their baby cries in public. My question is this: What don’t mums feel judged about?

There is no doubt that parenting is a difficult thing to master and something I’m pretty sure our great grandmothers weren’t thinking about in as much detail. I figure they were too busy hand washing their clothes and scraping together a decent meal to worry about whether Betty from number 10 was judging them on the ingredients they chosen for their child’s birthday cake.

So maybe, it’s a modern problem. One we’ve almost invented ourselves?

This week a new survey found that 64 per cent of new mums experienced guilt when their newborns cried in public. And the guilt wasn’t even just their sleep-deprived imagination. Mums experienced disapproving looks, stares from strangers and the dreaded ‘tutting’. Some even heard direct negative comments. (It is a crying newborn people!) Mums have enough to feel guilty over.

So here are a list of things I do as a parent that I am constantly feeling guilty of or in fear of being judged about.

I don’t read to my children every night.

I know, I KNOW. I should, it’s so good for them but some nights I just can’t be bothered. Some nights I just want to come home, grab a wine, flop down on the couch and zone out in front of the TV. And some nights, I know that if I have to listen to my 7 year old read me ‘The Little Engine that Could’ once more, I will literally become the parent who can’t.

I don't always iron their school uniforms. I hang them up and hope for the best.

I KNOW my mother is looking down from Heaven having conniptions because not only do I not iron my children’s clothes, I don’t even own an iron anymore. Yeah, that’s right. I used to hear about these mythical creatures who didn’t iron but I was not one of them. I mean, once upon a time, I pressed our sheets and had a night of the week dedicated to just ironing for God’s sake. The day the iron blew up and I decided I wouldn’t replace it was both terrifying and liberating. But I do worry that other parents (or teachers) are thinking badly about me when they see the occasional creased collar.

I sometimes let my children eat unhealthy food.

Yes. I let my children eat lollies. Yes, I let them eat junk food. No, not only on special occasions. Sometimes, I want to grab an easy meal and you know what, I also like to treat my children. I do worry however that as my special treats aren’t watermelon wrapped in prosciutto or kale salads that other parents would judge harshly if they knew of this practice.

I sometimes speak to my children in a less than lovely way.

Hmm, let’s just say that if you were to press your ear up against my wall last week when my son tipped the cat’s (full) cat litter tray onto the freshly shampooed carpet for no particular reason, you may have heard less than pleasant words streaming from my mouth. I may have used words I’m not proud of and did promise myself that I’d never use in the presence of my children.

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I don’t always get up to my children when they call out in the middle of the night.

I play this two ways. Either I hope that my husband will wake up and deal with them or else they’ll simply fall back to sleep. I give both of those avenues a red hot go before actually leaving my own bed.

I don’t make birthday cakes from scratch.

This is what might happen if Bern baked a cake.

My mother used to do this for me. In fact, it was the one thing I vividly remember us sitting down and deciding together. We’d gather around the Women’s Weekly Birthday Cookbook and I’d choose anything I’d like and Mum would masterfully produce it at my birthday party. I also allow my children to pick out their birthday cake, it’s just they select it from behind the glass counter at the Cheescake shop.

My house isn’t cleaned as often is should be.

Why bother? They only mess it up again. Well that’s how I reason with myself. It’s only when I have someone coming to visit that I get the motivation to go into a cleaning frenzy. It’s almost as if I have to imagine seeing the place through someone else’s eyes before I can actually be bothered doing it anymore. If I had my way, I’d not bother until they moved out.

I rarely help out at the school canteen or in the classroom.

I know there are mothers out there judging me for this. In fact I‘ve been told this point blank by a very enthusiastic class representative. And yes, I honestly do feel guilty about this. My explanation of "I’d love to help out but I presently work 5 days a week so it’s a bit tough" was met with the advice that I really should "prioritise my life a little better to include my children."

That list above only captures a small amount of my fears. They aren’t only fears, they are a list of areas that I wish I could personally do better in. Yet, I honestly don’t sit and judge anyone else for these. I empathise and I relate but I certainly don’t judge. So maybe I’m being irrational. Maybe we are all in the same boat and just trying to do the very best we can with what we have. There is no denying the love we have for our children and sure, they may turn up looking a little dishevelled, with milo on their faces and forget to return library books from time to time, but surely, it’s not the end of the world?

Have you worked out any tricks from freeing yourself from the fear of mother-judgement?

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