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Sh!t I’m not allowed to say as a mother

Mother with her fingers to her lips - things you're not allowed to say when you're a motherI didn’t have a f***ing clue about babies before I had one.

I thought I knew what motherhood was going to be about because I had done some casual babysitting in the 90s. Worse than that, I thought I’d be ‘a natural mom’. Biologically I was wired to care for the wee cherubs and turn them into stunning human beings. I was going to be a good – no, a great parent! I thought I was ready. #nope

Nothing prepares you. I heard this again and again in the first blurry months with my newborn. ‘Nothing prepares you’ said everyone from the sympathetic grey-haired nanna neighbours at the bus stop to my balding co-workers who hover in the corner of the staffroom with their instant coffee.

Nothing prepares you, but nobody even f***ing tried!! You know why? There are some things we are still not permitted to say as mothers. Because ultimately, motherhood is supposed to be “worth it” and any admission otherwise makes us a traitors to our God-given gift of a working uterus.

So at the risk of sounding ungrateful – here is some sh!t I’m not supposed to say …

Sh!t I’m not allowed to say as a mother

“Many of my favourite mothers are medicated”

I know there’s plenty of jokes about mummy’s medicine cabinet or giant glass of wine but a lot of the mothers I know are passed the “little helper” phase and into the daily prescription. My friends aren’t, as a general rule, nutbars. My friends are educated high achievers who are striving to meet modern society’s expectations in the workplace and are struggling to just keep things ticking over at home. Between the laundry, the iPhone, and, oh right, the clinging cherubs, I can barely find the time to pee.

“I have one too many kids”

I have more children than arms. If I’m really honest, I know I’d cope with the basic hygiene and looming financial responsibility of less kids better. Nothing personal – I couldn’t choose which one to give back. Strangers will tell you that you’ll only regret the kids you don’t have. Bullshit. While I don’t regret any of the people I made, I do regret not having a better child-to-money/time/arms ratio.

“Permanent sleep deprivation makes me a permanent a$$hole”

You get used to it, they say. About 8-9 uninterrupted hours of sleep is my preference. Six hours total is how much I need to be a nice person the following day. Luckily, I have other qualities beyond nice.

“Having babies makes me worse at my job”

I will never be as good at my job as I was before having kids. Partly because of the sleep thing, partly because a section of my brain is always diverted by general survival plans like food and water for the four dependents in my house. And fear. Fear of domino-effect tummy bugs to unplanned teenage pregnancy a decade in the future. Fear takes up a lot of mental energy. Some days I hate myself for my anti-feminist slide in the work force but I’ve started to find some peace on the days that I’m just too tired to care.

“I like my friends more than my kids”

Bad mother alert? Maybe, but come on. Friends are way more fun than kids. Maybe not more funny but I think it’s fair to say I’m not as into tickle fights with my daughter as she is after the first 10 minutes. And my best friend is a much better conversationalist than the five-year-old, the two-year-old and the 11-month-old combined. And she never asks me to wipe her butt.

“My children are really f***ing up my net worth”

Money and material possessions never phased me in my 20s. That’s because I had some. The luxury of having to stuff food into only my own mouth meant I used to think I was pretty well paid as a teacher. Oh, the privileged stupidity of it all. And retirement in an estimated 30 years is looking pretty unlikely even without an unplanned grandchild.


All of that shit is true but having kids isn’t about money, self-care or even about liking them. Children are about love and a lot of learning. And there’s plenty to be said about that, too.

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20 comments so far -

  1. Thanks for being brave and honest. To those who didn’t/don’t experience these thoughts, hopefully you were lucky and had lots of support and/or easy babies! And to those who say we shouldn’t think or say these things, please understand that for some people, these feelings are very real. To deny them or not listen may create shame and isolation, adding to the risk of depression in mums.

  2. I never though these things until I had number 4. The worlds most needy and difficult baby, and while I wouldnt give him back for a million dollars, I regularly think all of the above.

  3. I’m sorry Adrienne, but speaking as a dad who has several friends who are parents themselves, I’ve never heard any of them say any of the stuff you’ve mentioned here in your “article”.

    Parenting is a challenge, we get that, but these “things you’re not supposed to say” have never come across my mind, ever, and to be brutally honest, I highly doubt any parent has thought these either.

    And while my one year old son may accidentally break the odd knick knack around the home, or occasionally struggle a little while I’m changing hogs nappy, or protest while I’m trying to dress him, I’ve never thought that he was holding me back, or cramping my style, or that my lack of sleep is because of him… I thank my lucky stars that I have him, because he was a miracle to begin with.

    And granted, you may have said that this is stuff you’re not supposed to say… But its also better off not being thought of, let alone, printed in an article on “what you’re not supposed to say”… You’re not getting any fans with an article like this…

    • “I highly doubt any parent has thought these either”. It’s amusing that you think you can speak for all parents .
      It can be hard, and the more you have the harder it can be. So more power to your elbow that you cope admirably with one 1yr old…
      These are all quite spot on for many, I imagine, the author has just spun them in a negatively amusing way.
      And by the way…they are ALL miracles.

    • Oh to be you. Unfortunately , many HAVE and DO think these things. God forbid you be honest and say them and friends understand you venting from time to time.

      People don’t say them because they get crucified by the perfect parents with the perfect children etc.

      Well HEAR HEAR to this article. Well said and I could add a lot more! And, before I get crucified, I do love our children but there’s a lot to be said for….well maybe that’s for another article people can criticise. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      Thank you for this for all the women (and some men) in the world who think/want to say stuff but are too scared to. It doesn’t mean they are bad parents. It doesn’t mean they don’t love their children. And for God’s sakes PLEASE don’t say “Well you shouldn’t have had kids then”.

      Well if more people told the TRUTH about stuff prior to having kids, maybe more people would steer clear of it.

      How many parents out there could tell you exactly what it was going to be like PRIOR to them having a child? Every single little detail? How much sleep you would get? How your individual child would behave? If they’d have a disability or other challenge?

      If you answer anything other than NONE than you’re lying to yourself let alone others.

      And yes, there are those incredibly bloody lucky parents out there who are “naturals” and who “live to be and love to be a mum” etc. and that’s fantastic.

      That’s what many of us expected. Imagine the extra guilt (as if we don’t have enough parenting guilt to start with, chuck this extra load on top!) because we don’t understand WHY we don’t also feel like that??? Why not? Where did we go wrong?

      Yet if we dare to express these feelings we’re instantly criticised or told to be grateful/more positive etc. So not only are the mums who “love” every minute of it allowed to vent for whatever challenges they are presented with, God forbid those who are not lucky enough to have the same experience – which they wish they did, but hey, reality – vents in a slightly different way.

      And NO it’s not a simple change of attitude/outlook. Well perhaps that would help for some, but many of us have perfectly fine outlooks about things thanks.
      We’re grateful. We love our kids and would do anything for them. We do and try our best. We do everything right. Many of us also have no choice but to kill ourselves working long hours as well. Some of us average 2-3 hours sleep a night between work and kids, not babies, toddlers and older kids.

      So PLEASE don’t EVER say to anyone that you have never heard any of your many parenting friends that apparently confide in you say such things. Of course not – all they would need to do is read your response above and KNOW better than to say anything to you on such a topic.

      That said, I don’t know your situation. Perhaps you’re a single dad. I have found Dad’s often have a different experience to mother’s.

      And YES she IS getting fans with HONEST articles like this. Just because it is different to your opinion or very lucky experience does not mean it is not worth an article (to the poster a few above you).

      Some of these reactions exactly proves the point of why many who feel this way don’t DARE say anything. They end up keeping it inside and it can lead to other issues instead.

      So please, can’t we just all support each other and our individual, often unexpected experiences? Raising small kids is hard enough without other people who think they are perfect criticising some of us.

      Sorry if my post isn’t making sense. I have a literal 5 minute break and read it at work so am typing fast so I hope it has come out with the intended meaning and tone (not trying to ‘yell’ just want to draw some facts to yours and many others attention).

      Also, for my one post, there will be a whole bunch of others who will agree with at least some of what I have said here without actually posting. AND there will be some who will no doubt agree with your post. They will no doubt be most of the ones who post.

      When this thread is over. Please come back and count the number of posts “against” this article and the number similar to mine. I’ll take a bet the majority will be saying this article is incorrect. Why? Read what I’ve already said! Most don’t dare let others know how they truly feel so don’t want to put their name out there in case someone sees it and holds it against them/criticies etc.

      Well, how about trying to help those parents instead, even if it’s a matter of understanding a vent if they have one and lending an ear and potentially helpful advice, not criticism (again, the majority of this post is in general, not directed at you in particular unless mentioned, Mr Wally West).

      Thanks for reading if you got this far once you disagreed with my first few sentences! And thank YOU Adrienne Buckingham!

    • You mean women aren’t being honest with you? I find that really surprising. you seems really open minded and supportive.

      Parenting is a complicated and beautiful and exhausting and challenging job that not everyone should do. Maybe a little bit of honesty will mean more children are born into loving home likes yours and less will be born into homes who aren’t prepared to take up the challenge.

    • Im a parent to an only child and damn can i relate to the article
      You dont speak for all parents
      We all have different coping levels and ways we vent our stress



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