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Thoroughly (Post) Modern Mummy – A Yummy Mummy?

I’ve been following a discussion/debate/slanging match in The Times (UK, not NY or LA) recently about the emergence of the “Yummy Mummy”
Once the name of a breakfast cereal (it is amazing what you can learn from Wikipedia) the phrase yummy mummy has come to describe a glamourous, attractive mother – with a fabulous body and style.

According to Nirpal Dhaliwal these women are “bourgeoius charlatans”, with elective caesareans, daytime nannies and night nurses, who dress their kiddies up in designer togs and have lifestyles bankrolled by the husbands. The child is just the lastest middle class fashion accessory. You know Nirpal, you should really try and speak more directly in future – don’t beat about the bush so much.

Rosie Millard contends that “today’s yummy mummy is simply yesterday’s Top Shop girl” – who just wants to still look good, who works long hours and works just as hard as the nanny (who gets the best of their children) and still wipes up the sick. She doesn’t see why we mums should “forget about our degrees our MBAs, our mates and our laughs, and stay at home, unseen and uncoiffed, wearing something made of sacking”. She also says “Dhaliwal is little more than a lonely, child-free, noise-allergic, grumpy old git.” Touche.

Columnist India Knight reckons that the yummy mummy is a myth – or at least confined to the likes of Kate Moss and Elizabeth Hurley or very wealthy bankers wives.

“Everything else is aspiration, self-delusion and pretence — the stuff women use to make themselves feel better, not realising that it’s making them feel worse because it adds another strand of unnecessary competitiveness to the boringly complicated business of being female.”

The response to these articles have been passionate and intense – many from women who are either incensed or relieved.
But it certainly got me thinking…

On one level I think – this is ridiculous, raising kids is crazy enough. We’ve already set ourselves impossible goals to be perfect parents who raise perfect kids, now we need the burden of the quest for the perfect body too?
Why can’t our stretch marks and wobbly tummies be our badges of honour, tell the story of our families and the wonderful gifts we have in our kids. Perhaps its a chance to finally see there is more to us than externals, and embrace something deeper, more important.
And how about loving and embracing the choice we made to have kids. OK so we don’t sleep so much anymore, and our careers will never be the same, and we may not fit into those jeans again – but we’ve been part of something phenomenal, bringing a life into the world. And now we have the opportunity to invest in this new life, this new person. Surely that’s bigger than an MBA?

But on another level I get it. I like my badges of honour, but I like my old jeans, and couldn’t help feeling this sense of achievement, relief when I managed to fit into then again. I stood straighter, smiled broader – instinctively.
I love singing The Wheels on The Bus and Eensy Weensy Spider – for the sheer joy and giddy excitement I see on Tia’s beautifully expressive face. But somehow when I hear new music, the kind I love and can drive on the freeway with it blaring – I feel strangely alive somehow.
I love the space I get when I go for a run, when I go for a coffee alone.
I feel honoured to have my kids, but after hours of conversation with a toddler, sometimes I want to talk about politics, or music, or literature (oh the time to read a book!) or dare I say it – clothing, and MAC make up. Because I am a mum, but I am me too.

I don’t advocate just farming your kids out to someone else to raise because you can’t be bothered – but I did love being in Minneapolis last month without them. Except for the moments when I missed them so desparately that my heart ached.
But I understand that sometimes, just sometimes I miss the old me too, even though I don’t want to go back there.

Its this strange thing – I know parenting is all about self- sacrifice. But I get that sometimes as a mum you want a badge of honour for the you you used to be. Maybe for some women a Prada bag helps, who knows. I certainly think mums deserve them, though we might trade it in for a few date nights, and full nights of sleep!

I’m sure the debate/discussion/slanging match will continue.
In the meantime, my little one has just woken up so its time to go…
Anybody else have any thoughts?

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