A lot of the birth of my son and the early days of motherhood are a bit of a daze (thanks entonox) but I have one memory that is especially vivid. A friend was visiting and I was doing the new parent thing of pretending I wasn't going slowly insane. My boy was having one of those, there's nothing particularly wrong, I'm just gonna scream my lungs out moments and I was desperately trying to jiggle him into submission. After several minutes I muttered to no one in particularly,
'Why won't you stop crying.' My friend took my son from me and said calmly,
'Because he's a baby.' She had not meant to be accusatory but that's how I took it. I carried the guilt for a long time. This was supposed to be the most joyous event of my life, I had no right to complain.
Fast forward several months and a friend of mine had had her own child. We met for a coffee in a local cafe, she arrived twenty minutes late with a grizzly baby and a glazed look in her eyes,
'Why didn't you tell me,' she hissed at me, 'Why didn't you say how awful it is!' In that moment I decided I was gonna start whinging about my son - about the long sleepless nights, the food battles and the sheer bloody mindedness of him. I love him but occasionally being a parent does my head in and here are the ten reasons why I'm not gonna stop whinging about it.
It's the truth. Can we all just start being honest? It's something we all want for our children, why not practice what we preach? It's not always easy telling the truth but in the long run everyone reaps the rewards.
It's supportive. One of the primary concerns of mothers with postpartum depression is that everyone else is getting it right. Why not help alleviate some of that concern by making it clear that everyone struggles. If I had told my friend what she was letting herself in for she might have felt less blindsided or made the decision to become a lion tamer rather than a parent.
It's bonding. When you meet up with other parents of course you should share your joy but how fun is it to bond over the trials and tribulations. Add a glass of wine and you've got a good old girls night in.
Kids need to be comfortable with criticism. Life is full of knocks and if the first time little Freddie hears anything negative about himself is his first day at work, it might just set him on the road to ruin. Teach your child that life isn't easy but that the best thing to do is face up to the crap bits.
It makes praise more significant. If children only hear positive things about themselves it can become a white noise of 'good girls'. Being told you've done brilliantly is even more wonderful if you can compare it to how you felt when you were told that you were a little tyke.
It makes me a better parent. The odd little whinge is very cathartic. Getting it out of my system allows me to let it go and start the day afresh. If I bottled it up, it might all explode, probably in the cereal aisle at Morrisons.
His flaws are my flaws. Let's get real your kids are you. They are a reflection of your hopes and fears and if you're finding their behaviour troublesome, it's probably something that's come from you. Whilst you're complaining about the fact that your child won't eat his greens you can take some time to consider how often he sees you sitting down and enjoying a healthy meal.
It makes me confront challenges. If you sweep everything under the carpet eventually you're gonna trip on a lump. Dealing with difficulties head on leads to healthier, happy families and the first step to doing this is to let everyone know just what you've got a problem with.
It's rebellious. I was raised to toe the line and not stand out from the crowd but I've since learned that it's the risk takers that get good outcomes. Don't bow to pressure to represent yourself as a perfect parent, the best parents are real ones and real parents whinge.
It's British. I'm very patriotic and if there's one thing us Brits can do it's whinge. Show your dedication to the nation - stay calm and keep grumbling.