My friend recently called me from her car. She was sitting outside work and couldn’t bear the idea of going in. She was desperately hung over. The night before she had gone to a quiz night, and awoke in the morning to discover her house flooded. She had fallen asleep on her couch, but not before she started running a bath. She emerged, bleary-eyed from her slumber, to find her disapproving husband and two children slopping around in the sodden carpet. She had no real recollection of how she got home and had to send a text out to her friends to find out if any other ‘damage’ had been done.
Did I mention that my friend is 40, a highly respected professional and probably the smartest person I know?
Yet, this type of I can’t believe I did that! conversation is becoming more and more commonplace amongst ‘parent friends’ of mine. Since having children we have found ourselves suddenly, and unexpectedly partaking in the same kind of reckless, or self-indulgent behaviour usually reserved for teenagers. The desperate need to escape the shackles of responsibility and ‘good’ role modelling has led us to moments of frivolous abandonment; drinking ourselves unconscious, stealing from mega stores or pulling muscles whilst attempting to break dance in Spice Girl-inspired platform sneakers (that we just HAD to have). Yep, it’s fair to say that we are experiencing some kind of ‘Mummy Life Crisis’.
Parenthood has led one couple friend of mine to suddenly ‘break bad’, once confessing to waiting until their twin cherubs were tucked up in bed, before rummaging through the bin to find a can. “We ‘You-Tubed’ how to make a can bong,” she shared excitedly. It wasn’t long before she and her (health professional) husband found themselves regularly crouched down behind the backyard shed – so the neighbours ‘wouldn’t smell the smoke’. Cheech and Chong had never touched the ganja until they hit their late 20s AND became parents.
And if we’re not smoking the green stuff, we’re stealing it…
“I wasn’t going to spend $10 on 3 avocados! That’s daylight robbery!” My girlfriend sat across from me, toddler on knee, calmly justifying her recent actual robbery from her local Woolworths. “I’ll just blame it on baby brain if I get caught,” she smiled coyly. Apparently ‘Thou shall not steal’, has dropped rank in the virtues of modern day housewives; a common perception amongst ‘common thief’ friends of mine being that if you install a self-serve machine, then expect that we’ll ‘serve ourselves’ a five finger discount! And I must admit, there’s nothing that quickens the heart of this bored housewife more, than discovering a ‘stolen’ grocery item hidden in the bottom of my pram carriage – a free onion?! Score!
But it’s not all ‘Bad Mum’ behaviour that we’re exhibiting. There’s also the ‘young-and-free-anything-is-possible’ attitude that is once again gripping our ageing hearts. Like girlishly day dreaming about our ‘dream outfit’, that can only be obtained with the all desirable ‘dream body’. We have Pinterest boards filled with oh-so-superficial ‘inspo pics’ of what we might one day look like or wear; the modern day equivalent of ripping out pages from Dolly or Cosmo magazine. The notion that we can still become something new and different is thrilling in itself. For so long it has been about getting the job and finding the guy to have the babies. Now we’re struck with the notion that we don’t just have to be the mothers and the wives anymore; there’s new challenges and possibilities that await us.
A mother of three friend of mine, recently delighted in telling me, that when she gets herself ‘back in shape’, she wants a whole new look; “I want people to say, she’s rock chic when they look at me!”. And whilst the dream body and wardrobe may never actually be realised, the pursuit of reinvention is something so deliciously self-centred; devoid of children, husbands, work and other weighty responsibilities, that it’s well worth the mental mirage.
The reality is, we’re good mothers; we love our children and most of the time we follow the rules. But, being so responsible and considered during the AM, can make those precious moments during the PM, oh so much sweeter. The desire to become something new or just get in touch with that youthful exuberance that likes to take risks and sometimes do stupid things, is just too enticing to ignore. At the end of the day, part of being a ‘Good mum’ is occasionally letting the ‘Bad mum’ come out from her parent trap, so she can dance and drink and daydream… just like she used to.