In defence of 'slummy mummies' - and why we'll be having fish fingers for dinner tonight

Cael, 7, and I enjoy a precious moment together.
Cael, 7, and I enjoy a precious moment together. Photo: Monique Patterson

Mothers across the world are outraged by a term aimed at "less than perfect" mothers, and criticism aimed at women who "rant about their little ones on social media" has prompted a meltdown on social media.

Writing for Daily Mail, Anna May Mangan took aim at what she describes as the "slummy mummy".

She wrote about the "booming trend in women confessing to their gin-soaked shortcomings as mothers", ranted against parents who dare feed their children fish fingers for dinner, and goes on to conclude that you can't really be a "slummy mummy" without bordering on being neglectful.

Mothers expressed their rage, prompting the hashtag #solidaritea to go viral. And yes, feeding their kids fish fingers for dinner in reply.

As someone who can relate to these women, I take issue with Mangan's disdain.

Did I forget to put my son's lunchbox in his schoolbag on orientation day at primary school? Yes.

Have I allowed my son to eat a packet of chips early one morning to avoid having to get out of bed? Yep.

Does my son have an in-depth knowledge of the selection of microwave meals available at the supermarket? Sure.

Do I confess to my seven-year-old that "mum needs a pink jewel" (aka, a drink)? Yes. (Maybe more often than I realise, because early one morning he offered me a glass of wine about 9am while helping himself to a cordial.)

My son also likes to joke that while he is a master chef, I'm a "crappy chef". I think that tag stuck after I attempted to cook carbonara and spilt the whole container of cream on the kitchen floor.

Personally, I think the writer has missed the point when she labels people who admit to their "sins" on social media as arrogant.

Rather than consider myself as arrogant, or a "slummy mummy", I believe I am a follower of a much-broader international movement: the art of self-depreciation.

Think about it – female comedians the world over have delighted audiences with their tales of how they are living a less-than-perfect life.

Their bravery prompted others to follow suit, to admit that they too had moments when they wondered if they were winning or losing the battle of "adulting".

My social media posts relating to my foot-in-mouth moments are in no way limited to my failings as a mother.

I remember one night, a few champagnes in, I jumped into a taxi.

"How are you, gorgeous?" the taxi driver asked.

"Good thanks," I replied.

"Sorry, I was talking to my wife," the taxi driver informed me, pointing to his bluetooth headset.

My face went crimson red and I wanted to jump out of the moving vehicle. But we've all had those moments and if my dimwitted faux pas can bring a smile to the face of one of my Facebook friends, then what's the harm of sharing?

From an early age I have joked with my son about my imperfections. We laugh and he likes to tell random people we meet: "did you know my mum is a little bit crazy?"

Well, I would like to stand up for my fellow social media users who are not shy about 'fessing up to our stuff-ups.

Why?

We live in a world where we are constantly under pressure to look a certain way, act a certain way, achieve certain goals, make more money, do more.

Well, frankly, it's exhausting and I want to teach my son that it's okay to have imperfections.

It's okay to be different, it's okay to be weird, it's okay to laugh at yourself.

It's also okay to take a breather as a mother once in a while, and let your child help themselves to a chip sandwich.

Well, it is in my book, anyway.

Rather than agree with Anna's belief that "slummy mummies" are arrogant and neglectful, I think we're just people struggling to keep up with the fast-paced world who have decided to give ourselves a break.

If you haven't already done so, I recommend you try it. Nobody's perfect, so why waste precious seconds, minutes or hours trying to achieve the impossible.

As my uncle Stephen always says, "We're here for a good time, not a long time".