5 dirty secrets about parenting we hope Motherland will capture

Rosa Silverman
Motherland depicts parenthood as not just messy but blood-soaked - WARNING: Use of this copyright image is subject to the terms of use of BBC Pictures' Digital Picture

The pilot episode of Motherland, the new BBC comedy created by Sharon Horgan and Graham Linehan, depicted parenthood as it’s rarely portrayed on screen: not just messy but blood-soaked. You have to laugh because if you didn’t you’d be having a breakdown.

If Catastrophe, Horgan’s previous sitcom, showed that family life can be far from rosy, Motherland takes this idea and runs with it - all the way to the chaotic, wine-fuelled play date at the competitive Alpha mum’s house where you find yourself eating spaghetti out of the bin with hunger.

So it is with glee - and a certain amount of trepidation about the dark home truths it will reveal - that we greet the commissioning of a full series, which began earlier this month on BBC Two.

The reality of middle-class motherhood in the 21st century is a rich seam, after all. Here are the five aspects we hope it will mine...

Motherland, Sharon Horgan's new BBC sitcom, begins this week Credit: Delightful Pictures/Merman 

The dream vs. reality

If you’re trying to have it all - spotless children, fulfilling career, happy marriage and walls that aren’t covered in felt-tip pen, you can’t.

Trying to achieve all these things, moreover, will almost certainly result in a heart attack in the long term. In the short term, your children will eat fish fingers in the bath while you email your boss with one hand and wipe toothpaste from the floor with the other.

Julia (ANNA MAXWELL-MARTIN) and Liz (DIANE MORGAN) are mums trying to keep it all together in Motherland Credit: Colin Hutton/BBC 

Cheese and all the problems it can solve

It’s dinner time and there’s nothing in the fridge (or freezer, if you're Liz in Motherland) except cheese, because while you were performing 700 tasks simultaneously you ordered the Ocado delivery for the wrong day.

But cheese is a fine meal for a child. It’s all they deign to eat anyway. (On previous occasions you’ve tried them on leftover takeaway jalfrezi, saucisson and sushi and they’ve rejected all three.)

So you serve them Edam, while they watch six episodes of Paw Patrol, and you wonder whether you can put off the laundry for one more day because no-one will really be able to tell if that’s chocolate or something worse on their trousers.

Kevin (PAUL READY) and Julia (ANNA MAXWELL-MARTIN) star in Motherhood Credit: Delightful Pictures/Merman/BBC

YouTube solves everything else

Possibly the best thing ever invented, after the wheel, ibuprofen and Jaffa Cakes (one of your five-a-day) is the YouTube video compilation. There’s a Peppa Pig one that lasts 11 hours and a Teletubbies one that lasts four hours. If you played these back-to-back, just think what you could achieve.

You may have harboured lofty plans to give your kids a screen-free childhood and only wooden toys to play with. These will be swiftly abandoned once your little one is capable of demanding your attention.

TV theme tune hell

The Ladybird bookHow it works: The Mum nails this truth of motherhood: that no matter what you’re doing, you will always have the Octonauts theme tune going round your head. Or it could be a different one, depending on your child’s preferences.

In the office, you may look as if you’re concentrating hard on a work-related matter but your inner voice will be going: “Chuggington...Chugger-chugger-chugger-chugger-chuggington. Chuggington…”

Trying to fight this is futile. You just have to let it play on in the background and hope no-one realises it has taken the place of useful thoughts.

Alpha Mum: Amanda (LUCY PUNCH) in Motherland Credit: Colin Hutton/BBC 

Messy is the new tidy

Why has no interior design guru proclaimed this yet? If only they would, it would legitimise the whole aesthetic of your house: an artfully strewn welly boot here; a small yet potentially lethal pile of Lego there; a half-eaten slice of toast stuck to the TV screen.

When are the style magazines going to declare this look “in”? Because your children have been working hard to make this vibe work for you for some time now. Smeary hand prints on white walls, poster paint across the floor, pieces of train track ready to trip you up at the top of the stairs... It’s a style moment just waiting to happen.