It is very fashionable to sneer at the well groomed “yummy mummy”. All over the country – possibly the world, who knows – stressed out mums survey with disgust the shiny, glossy creature who has the nerve to be a parent AND – what? no! you must be joking! would you believe it? – wear mascara. Obviously, she can’t be a good mum. How can she be? Look at her! She’s brushed her hair! Well, let me take a deep breath and admit something shameful – I wear make up every day. There, I said it. My dirty little cosmetic secret is out. And yes, I really do mean every day, even if I am not going out. Want to hear something even worse? Ready? I feel like shit without it.
Cue horrified gasps from those of a feminist persuasion: “she needs make up to feel good about herself! we burned our bras for nothing, the bitch!”. Cue horrified feminist gasps being drowned out by horrified parenting gasps: “She ignores her child in favour of her vanity! She leaves her baby in front of the evil television with a Happy Meal while she spends hours applying Fake Bake!!” Well, not quite. But yes, I do my hair and I put eye make up on. I draw the line at lipstick due to the logistical issues of being addicted to kissing my daughter.
Why do I feel the need? I don’t think you can underestimate how much having a child changes everything. One day you are queen bee in your fancy shoes and impractical jewellery, and the next you’re…well, you’re someone’s mum (or, in the charming words of my intended: “a MILF”). You don’t get excited by nights out anymore because you spend the whole time thinking about your little snuggly bundle, snoring at home. You can’t drink too much because you have to be up at the crack of dawn and totally on the ball, not like before when you’d shuffle in to work an hour late, clutching an extra large latte and hoping your boss had a long meeting that morning so he would leave you alone. You don’t get excited by shopping, since fancy shoes are pointless and your only handbag is filled with nappies and teething remedies. There’s not a lot of your old self left and it’s weird.
Of course, it shouldn’t matter. The love you feel for your child should be enough. Any real mum shouldn’t need anything else to make her feel worthwhile, right? Um, yeah….kinda. By which I mean no. Obviously if I had to choose between my little princess and my make up bag, the slap would be in the bin (I can keep my Benetint though, right? It’s just a subtle flush…no? bastard). But why do we seem to think that having a baby automatically makes it OK to start looking like Stig Of The chuffing Dump? It’s like some kind of competition where the more shit you look, the more you love your child. I have been in conversations like this:
Mum A: “Oh no, I’m wearing odd socks! It’s because I had to get up at 4am and it was dark!”
Mum B: “Oh, you’re lucky, you had a lie in! I have been reading nursery rhymes to Jocasta since 2am and I haven’t had time to brush my hair!”
Mum C: “I don’t even own a hairbrush any more! I spend so much time washing my reusable nappies that there was no point even owning one!”
Oh, fuck off.
I feel I had better point out that I do not, of course, consider myself to be in any way “yummy”. But it seems to me that these days a Yummy Mummy is defined by anyone who brushes their teeth more than once a week. In which case, I am one. I put eyeliner on and it reminds me of a time when I had something interesting to say and people respected me. I wouldn’t go back to that time in a million years because I wouldn’t have my daughter and she rules. But I’m not joining in your I Ming Therefore I Am A Good Parent crusade. Just brush your bloody hair and shut up.