My parental agenda is painfully simple: Let her choose. For all the dinosaurs, princesses, blue and pink divides of the 80s, just let the little nipper pick her lane/ colour. Then give her the space to change her mind every day, every minute or every second if she fancies.
Because as women, we’re not always a pretty shade of pink and as men we’re not always into the blue; sometimes we like a diplodocus and other days it’s a swarovski-encrusted pastel-hued crown. We’re beyond all that archaic pigeonholing.
Then The Times published a piece yesterday describing me as a ‘princess’ in font size 18. A ‘perfect lifestyle princess’ to be specific. (They swiftly changed it to ‘queen’ online after a mild bit of backlash.)
The feature, written by the brilliant Richard Godwin was balanced and fair – there was nothing to fault. But the headline and captions (with my name spelled as ‘Whitehead’ not ‘Whitehouse’) had the stamp of a misogynistic lazy sub who simply saw three things: ‘blonde’, ‘girl’, ‘princess’… oh wait, she’s old and a mother, let’s make it ‘queen’ online).
A light Google would reveal my blatherings are more ‘imperfect parental wazzock’ and that I’ve never touted a perfect lifestyle. Even if you can’t be arsed to read the feature that’s clogging up your inbox or spell the name right, surely the name ‘Mother Pukka’ gives a hint of the goods.
Sure, I’m aware brands like sparkly photos (cue irksome posing) and that you can make a quick dime on instagram – a girl’s gotta eat – but the rest is really me being a massive goofball. My hashtag is ‘parentingtheshitoutoflife’ but more often than not it’s ‘notparentingtheshitoutoflife’, following a dose of kid-related catastrophe.
But what frustrates most is that The Times is where I set my journalistic sights aged 21 as I scrabbled around pretending to write. (I started out on Practical Caravan; so close).
It was, for me – until yesterday – one of the remaining publications that had a bit of class – kept its head held high as others were scooping stories on Katie Hopkins/ H from Step’s comeback and Myleene Klaas, whose insane musical talent has taken a backseat for photos of her looking ‘lush’. In my eyes it was intelligent journalism fighting through in a garden of Daily Mail weeds.
It was a place that vaguely got women, got mothers, got parents and graciously edged past all the ‘look 30 years younger in 30 minutes’ white noise that’s been tumbling out of every print media orifice since I picked up a copy of Bliss in 1995.
And then some idle goon went and ruined it for me. A blundering diplodocus who has made it clear to my daughter, Mae that her mother is nothing more than a princess.
(On a side note, I shared a page with Beyonce; silver linings.)