The Danger in Being Smug


It’s my view that somewhere, way up there, is a higher power, whose job it is to keep us parents in check. To ensure we don’t become too smug, too comfortable or too complacent. It’s for this reason that once you stop for a second, congratulate yourself for a job well done or a parenting catastrophe avoided, an inevitable disaster will follow.

Very recently, I made it to the checkout at the supermarket with both of my children still in my sight (actually, they were both still in the trolley. Double win!) I managed to employ Monkey as my trolley-unloader and a whole weeks’ shopping was subsequently packed into ridiculous plastic bags. Shopping packed. Children still behaving. And me, smug. Somewhat jubilant. Planning a celebratory Facebook status update.

“That’ll be one hundred and whatever pounds, please” said the cashier. “Do you have a Clubcard?”

“Yes, I do.” I said. Feeling a bit like one of those organised and together mothers that you see. You know, the ones who don’t forget their re-usable carrier bags and don’t let their children play with their iPhones to keep them quiet in shops.

“My Clubcard is right here, in my…….ohhhhhh”.

At this juncture I felt I deserved extra parenting points for not swearing.

My purse was not in my handbag. I was at home. In the kitchen. On the floor, just where Madam had been playing with it.

So, back in the car we went. Of course, a thunder-storm of biblical proportions had commenced during our time in the store. Of course, we weren’t parked anywhere near the entrance to the store either, thanks to several builders taking up residence in the designated parent-and-child spaces. Of course, we weren’t at the supermarket closest to home. Needless to say we hit the school-traffic. It goes without saying that screaming and crying ensued. From all three of us, in fact.

But I learned a lesson that day: Never get too smug as a parent.

And always check that you have the means to pay for your groceries.


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  1. 1

    Amanda Martin says

    Oh yes, this is parenting rule number one! The minute you dare to write on Facebook ‘little miss slept through the night last night, hurrah!’, you’re guaranteed a month of sleepless turmoil. I have learnt this the hard way a hundred times, congratulating myself on everything from accident-free days while toilet training, to the fact that my children don’t kick or bite (that one hurt!).

    I’ve also got to the checkout without purse more than once. I even took to having a spare credit card in my handbag. Then I commented on this post on your site, and mentioned the spare credit card (possibly smugly, though it wasn’t my intention). I had need of it that very day, only to discover I had taken it out. Darn you, higher being watching over us, for your vicious sense of humour.

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  2. 3

    Debbie says

    OOOOPS! sorry Rachel yes it is important to stay humble at all times, so something doesn’t bit you in the ass.

    For myself when those good things happen, like finding that great parking place, I stay humble by saying, “Thank you God, I really appreaciate the parking place.”
    Give credit where credit is do and it works much better.
    Thank you for sharing it helps to know we as mothers are never alone.

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  3. 6

    Becky says

    Yep, was so proud that 1year old son did something amazingly advanced, on hold with Mensa, look over to see him licking the front door…..sorry wrong #…..

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  4. 8

    Anastasia @ eco-babyz says

    Yep, just when I said ‘my kids rarely get sick’, they both did. In the summer. During a heat wave. Yep. Oh, and I was doing food shopping last week (with 4 y.o. and 20 mo old), epic 3 weeks worth of food, cart loaded, groceries bagged. Looking through my purse, nearly dumped out all the contents – no card. Turns out my husband had both his and mine – about 30 miles away. Thankfully – a miracle happened and my mother AND my in-laws happened to be in that store at the same time! They paid for groceries and I just ran the horrifying scenario through my head of what would have happened if they weren’t there! It was super close.

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  5. 10

    Lady Jennie says

    The few times I forget the lesson learned and allow a little smugness to seep in, I am SURE to be put in my place. I don’t even attempt “the smug” anymore. :-)

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  6. 11

    Ariana says

    I’m loving the stories in these comments! My worst example of smugness was probably with my twins, who slept through the night starting at 2 months. I was so certain that it was our amazing parenting techniques…which I proudly shared with all who would listen. Then I had baby #3, who woke up every 3-4 hours till past his 2nd birthday. Paid for that smugness alright!

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  7. 12

    Alissa says

    I like the bit about extra points for not swearing. I actually mouthed “mother-f*#^*(@*” at the jr theater the other day because little dude couldn’t bring his slurpee into the theater. Ooops!

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  8. 13

    K.M. OSullivan says

    Life is one big GOTCHA that is only punctuated by the addition of children. It is only by the grace of…whatever…and a decent iPhone reminder app that I remember to take my meds. ;) Of course, those kids know just when and how to turn on the charm so they never have to own up to the part they play in the chaos of life. That’s why, as grandparents, we will get to point and laugh at our children and say “I told you so,” without a hint of irony.

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  9. 14

    Jessica Smock says

    Every time that I’ve gotten smug as a parent I’ve later regretted it. For instance I remember lecturing another mom — whose kid was the same age, around 12-13 months — about how important it was to stick to two naps per day, that all you needed to do was to keep a routine. Wouldn’t you know it that my son began a month-long campaign of nap refusal the next day?

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  10. 15

    Brenda Dion says

    Love this! Kharma’s a b*tch as a parent that’s for sure. You dare to think about, say even “wish” that they will do “x” and they will invariably do “y.” Logic and reason is out the window, predictability forget about it, and sanity is as precious as diamonds.

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  11. 18

    Mama D says

    I have learned the hard way never to finish a sentence that could be taken as tempting fate!! Knocking on wood isn’t enough to overcome the bad karma brought upon me when I get smug. Although I will say that karma sometimes doesn’t strike those who are CLEARLY asking for a karmic smack down, so maybe there are karma rules that I don’t understand yet! ;)

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