Smug Mum Knocked Off Her Perch

Smug Mum.

You know her. You might even be her. I think I was her.

Smug Mum is the one whose textbook baby has read the manual other mums and bubs don't even know exists.

She is the one whose baby slept through the night at 3 weeks old, fed like clockwork and hardly raised a fuss at witching hour.

She is the one whose toddler never went through the terrible twos, doesn’t throw a hissy fit at getting the red cup and who happily sits at a table for two hours while Smug Mum has coffee with a friend.

She is the one who likes to think she’s got her s#*t together. And maybe she has. Maybe she hasn’t. Only she knows that.

Smug Mum is also the one quietly tsk-tsking under her breath in the supermarket while she pretends not to notice as your child screams like you just punched him because you said no to ice cream.

She’s also the one who leaves the park in a head-held-high huff, slighted that your toddler took her toddler’s shovel and then your toddler had the nerve to throw sand at her toddler when he took it back.

She’s the one secretly observing you, pityingly, thinking she has the answers. If only you would just say no to your child. If only you would just explain to your child why there won’t be ice cream today, then you wouldn’t have the fuss and tantrums, all would be fine.

As though a simple explanation would stop your child throwing peas on the floor or picking his nose or swatting his sister.

Parenting life would be straightforward if only you had the benefit of her well-meaning advice.

In fairness, maybe reasoning worked for her. Maybe that’s how she began to become Smug Mum. By some gift of her child’s temperament she won the child lottery and childhood progressed without hiccup or incident.

Smug Mum is the one silently judging you as you slide further into parenting chaos, feeling overwhelmed and at your wits end, sleep deprived and disheveled, trying to get through each day without killing or at a minimum seriously harming your child.

Come to think of it, I don’t think I ever really was Smug Mum, though I do think I was at serious risk of becoming one. You see, unbeknown to me (at the time of my potential Smugness that is and as I only later fully realised) I have a very quiet, easy-going, eager to please, amiable and compliant child. (Aren't they all like that?) One who as it turns out loves logic and so was happy to accommodate any reasonable request. I guess he is a typical doted upon first born and genetically imprinted with a predisposition for a placid temperament.

Where I went wrong was in assuming that this ease could be attributed to my brilliant parenting. (This is not entirely true either, as I have never thought of myself as a brilliant parent. In fact, I thought I sucked at the whole parenting thing and still am my harshest critic). However, where I was at risk of developing Smugness was is the mistaken belief that because my child fitted some ideal picture of how a child should be, then that was confirmation that I must be an awesome parent or at least doing something right.

Obviously, at the time I must have deduced that my way was working and therefore felt I should share my wisdom and success with others. In hindsight and in all honestly, I was probably unknowingly looking for reassurance that I was doing a good job, and wanted to tell everyone else about it for their confirmation.

This leads to how in my temporary, if somewhat misplaced Smugness I began writing a parenting book. If I ever was Smug then it was rather short-lived. The universe works in mysterious ways and from what I can gather must have quite a sense of humour, too because just as I thought I had it all figured out and three years after my first child was born, I was blessed with another.

This is when Smug Mum was knocked clear off her perfect parenting perch in the most ungraceful manner and with an almighty thud, landing face first and knee deep in s#*t.

My daughter did not follow any of my preconceived ideas for how a child should be. She didn’t follow any of the rules, none of the guidelines, no routines.

Nothing. Zip. Zilch. She was having none of it!

My daughter has a completely different personality and temperament from my son. One that is non-compliant, feisty, sensitive and exuberant. She craved physical contact, emotional connection and loudly demanded to be seen and heard, that we sit up and take notice, immediately. I admit that for a long while we may have referred to her as our hothead, rough-nut. Firecracker might have been used a time or two (hundred) as well.

No longer even closely resembling Smug, I was now the one being watched in supermarkets, eyeballed in the park and scoffed at by well meaning Grandmas (who I suspect are just ex-Smug Mums with fading memories). As Mums all we really want is to do a good job, love our children and be loved by them. We want to raise them to be happy and healthy. We’d all do a lot better

at it, too, if we could drop the façade of smugness and instead support one another with unconditional positive regard. We don’t have to be bosom buddies or even be alike, however understanding that we cannot ever fully know another mum’s circumstances or journey helps remind us to avoid judging that about which we have little knowledge.

It is funny and a little ironic that I now find myself facilitating workshops for those who live or work with children. Though I assure you, I am not Smug. If I ever really was, I have reached that place of accepting that I am a good enough mother. I am real. I am genuine. I am completely imperfect. And I am no longer full of self-reproach or judging of others. I do what I do, not because I have all the answers but because of my love for children and my deep desire to help parents enjoy parenting, not just survive it.

My desire is to help you become the best parent you can be and to discover what works best for your family, your children and especially for you because parents should Enjoy Parenting! As a registered teacher and Art Therapist, and an authorised Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) instructor, with a passion for all things parenting related, I offer a range of programs and support to help parents in their journey. I have two children and am still learning every day how to become a better parent!

Cheers, Melissa

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