Sunday, 18 February 2018

Let's not judge

Being in the public spotlight, albeit in our humble little suburb, opens me up for regular criticism. I have come to accept and embrace the notion that I will always have haters, or people who don’t agree with what I say and do, and people who judge me for the decisions I make and the stand I take on certain issues.

And that’s ok.

However, I am still human. So despite my bravado, sometimes criticism stings a little. My saving grace is that I’m surrounded by an amazing circle of support and an incredible boyfriend, who always remind me that to fight the fight I am fighting and to live with purpose is to invite haters. It comes with the territory and it means I am exactly where I need to be.

I’ve lost friends, clients and members of my community over the years. Not because I’m not doing my job well, but because I confront the big issues and I encourage people to own their shit. Not everyone likes to own their shit. Instead, they like to show it to others and turn it into someone else’s shit – this allows them the opportunity to continue to NOT own their own shit. Try and say THAT fast three times.

Do I get it wrong sometimes? Hell yes. Do I own it when I do? Absolutely.

One thing that I really don’t agree with or encourage is to judge parents, especially mothers. ESPECIALLY single mothers. C’mon ladies – this gig is TOUGH. Do we really need to publicly judge or ridicule each other or talk about each other behind our backs?

I’ve been judged for a lot of things over the years; choices I have made, views I’ve expressed both in my writing and in speaking gigs. I’ve been criticised for ending a marriage, having an au pair, having a nanny, working full-time, shacking up with and then falling in love with a much younger man. I get criticised for the positive and close relationship I have with my ex-husband. I’m judged for choosing to live separately from my boyfriend, Tyler, for the first 3-and-a-bit years of our relationship (actually, I get comments on all areas of our relationship, it doesn’t seem to matter that we are blissfully happy and in love).

I’ve had people comment regularly on the fact that Tyler does no parenting of my kids – why the fuck should he? He’s not their dad! They have a dad and they didn’t ask for another one! And he didn’t fall in love with the kids, he fell in love with me, it just so happened that I came as a package deal! Wrap your head around that and judge away.

Non-conventional? Yep! Happy as two pigs in mud? Oh, you have no idea ;)

I make a conscious choice to be quite open about my life on social media. If people are going to connect with me because of what they have seen on social media, I want it to be authentic. I want it to be honest. Mistakes and all. I'm not just going to present the blissful side of my world, I'm going to be transparent and present all sides of my world. This opens me up for judgment because, yes, sometimes I make mistakes. I don’t want people to see a blissfully happy life, free of mistakes, issues and normal human stuff, because that wouldn’t be me.

Here’s the thing I don’t understand though, when did we as humans decide it was acceptable to judge parents? Being a mother is fucking hard. Being a single mother is NEXT level hard. Sorry to all the mums who are still married, but it is. It’s not lost on me that I got the good end of the deal when it comes to marriage separations. I have a good relationship with my ex-husband, which gives me some flexibility of care.

But no matter what your custody arrangement, as a single parent, you are trying to be everything for your kids when you have them in your care – the mum, the dad, the full-time worker, the company director, the daughter and family member, the friend, you name it. It’s an extensive list and a lot of balls to keep in the air. When someone throws judgment at me for a parenting decision I have made, it’s hard to not let that sting deep. Because at the end of the day, we are all doing our very best with the resources and knowledge we have and I am CERTAIN there isn’t a parent alive who doesn’t have some level of regret for a shit parenting decision they have made at some point. Mother's guilt is VERY real. 

Why do we believe we have the right to make this suffering worse for a parent? I know I make curly decisions regarding my children that some people really struggle with. But these decisions are between their dad and I. I know I am going to screw up many more times as my kids enter their teens. I am shit scared of taking my daughter through her teens, she is EXACTLY like me – headstrong, independent and moody.

Am I shitting myself? Absolutely.

What I am most worried about though, is the public commentary I am going to get around my kids as they grow into young adults. They don’t deserve that and nor do I. I am proud of the parent I am. I am incredibly proud of the little humans I have created and managed to keep alive for nine whole years. I am mostly proud of the job my ex-husband and I are doing as a united front to raise them in an unconventional living arrangement.

Our kids have a beautiful acceptance and love for every possible relationship combination and they truly understand that it is important to be loved and to love whole heartedly in a relationship. They understand that life is incredibly short and that it’s ok to take risks and embrace adventure.

So yes, I get judged for taking them on scooters in Bali (you should have seen the joy on their faces as they rode through the streets of Seminyak taking in the sites and smells) or white-water rafting in crazy wild water followed by some risky Balinese village-prepared lunch. I am sure eyebrows were raised for letting Sam go out on a fishing boat without me in Fiji. But I can guarantee my kids are creating incredible memories and are learning that it’s ok to take calculated risks.

On our most recent holiday in Fiji,  I watched my daughter snorkel out on the ocean. She clung to me and our guide for a bit, then she gently let go and floated away from me. I watched her get a reasonable distance from me before she realised. She got a little fright and swam back to me. For all my perceived faults as a mother, it’s worth it to see the look on her face when she realised what she had achieved. 

So, before you go judging me, or any other parent for that matter, how about we all just take a breath and remember that we are doing our best in a very tricky, judgmental world. Let’s celebrate each other, love each other and lift each other up, and embrace all of our differences and appreciate that we all are just trying to keep these small people alive.


  1. You're not Barnaby Joyce so your private life is nobody's business but your own. Stay strong Chantal. PS I wish I was having those amazing experiences your kids are having.

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