family · Humour · Motherhood · Rhyme

The Snail and the Fail.

I am a tremendous fan of Julia Donaldson, and so naturally my kids both are too as I have a certain amount of say over which books make it into Santa’s sleigh each year.  My recent parody of her brilliant book A Squash and a Squeeze, has proven to be my most popular post to date, and so jumping on that, here is a twist on one of her other classics – The Snail and The Whale:

Image shows a cartoon image of a sad tiny snail on a vivid green leaf in the rain.

This is the tail of a parenting fail
And a once judgemental pre-child snail.

This is the snail who tapped her foot,
Whilst judging mums with an angry tut.

But the tiny snail could hear tick-tock
The groaning of her body clock,
Still, as she watched she sniffed and sighed,
Do all those parents have no pride?
“I would not fail!”
Said the pre-child snail.

These are the pre-child snails in flock.
That judged with mild disdain and shock
And watched the mums with an angry tut,
That begged “Be quiet! Sit still! Stay put!”
But the pre-child snail that sniffed and sighed,
Had precious cargo, tucked inside.

This is the tale of the pre-child snail,
A cautionary tale, a lesson learned,
Of how she found the tables turned.

This is the snail, who late one night,
Through gritted teeth screamed “Holy Sh*te!”
Whose labour went on all night long,
With contractions both fast and strong,
Who screamed obscenities in waves,
(Not like her pre-child self behaves!)

But this is the tale of the post-child snail.

Who held her child adoringly
And whispered “You are loved by me!”

A family of three, once wild and free,
That carried the snail,
Who is new to our tale.

Who day and night made loud demands,
For Mummy’s milk and Mummy’s hands,
This is the Mum who raced and dashed,
Who had no sleep.
Who’s brain was mashed.
The frazzled snail made a parenting fail.

These are the days, that pass in a daze.

This is the tot, the sick and the snot,
The tears and the shite, that screeched all the night,

That screeched and screamed at the brand new mum,
Who questioned and wondered just what she’d become.

This is the toddler loud and rude,
With awful manners over food,

Which the mummy snail,
Considered a fail.

This is the tot that stropped and bit,
And sometimes was a *whispers* little shit!
That dropped and wailed without a care,
And everyone would stand and stare,
At the mummy snail, and her terrible fail.

This is the child who, fed and warm,
Could still erupt like a thunderstorm?
This is the mum,  deprived of rest,
Who tried and tried and tried her best,

And she gazed at the sea, the land, the sky,
And asked Lord Google “Why oh why?”
“I’m a rubbish snail and a parenting fail!”

But one day the mum could take no more
And she cried, alone on her kitchen floor.

This is the tea in the playgroup hall,
That really isn’t warm at all.

These are the mums who gather there,
And say “Play nicely – learn to share!”
This is the door, no longer shut.
And this is the Mum with the judgy tut.

The mum who knew now what to know,
The mum who shyly said “Hello?”
These are the mums who gather round,
Amidst their toddlers’ screeching sound.
Who share their tales and awkward fails,

Of sleepless nights and screeching strops,
Humiliation at the shops,
Of endless love but countless tears,
The shock and fun of becoming a mum.

And these are the mums that shout “Hurray!”
As fear and anxieties melt away.

Shared over cake,
Mistake by mistake,
Sometimes over the phone,
But not ever alone.

And they laugh and smile as they each regale,
Together, whether mum or snail,
And they trust in their hearts as they hear each tale,
There is no such thing, as a mummy fail.

Image shows to women's hands in a heart shape.

Dear parents.

Please don’t think for one second that I am insinuating that mums are like snails.  (Well aside from the silvery trail of something unspeakable that we often fashion about the knee and shoulder but that’s something else.) When I thought about it though I had to admit that we can sometimes have a tendency to withdraw into our shells when the going gets tough, or for example when a tiny person comes tearing out of us that gives absolutely zero toots about what the books say they are supposed to do. We’re tough.  It takes a lot of trampling to break down that shell,  and inside it can be a very lonely place to feel, and feel like an overwhelming place to fail. In my opinion, nothing helps like finding a mum friend – an MFF. This post is dedicated with hugs to all of my own MFFs, and also to Sally, founder of Meet Other Mums, who created this brilliant site so that we mums could come together and find an MFF of our very own.
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131 thoughts on “The Snail and the Fail.

  1. I’ve only recently become aware of Julia Donaldson (we have Zog and Stick Man) but they are great books. I’ll need to check out the library for more, apparently!
    Excellent and amazing post 🙂

  2. Love this! ❤️ It’s great to read something a bit different! I’m also a big fan of the Julia Donaldson books. I agree with your comment that at times we have a tendency to withdraw into our shell, I am definitely prone to doing this when things are hard. #DreamTeam

  3. Aww I think we are a little like snails when we withdraw into our shells too – you’re right – but if you have that wonderful mummy group around you there are no fails – it’s all good! Such a lovely heartwarming read! #DreamTeam

  4. I love this! It makes me want to go read the original now. You should do more children’s book parodies – I really wanted to do one for The Gruffalo but couldn’t quite make it work. I’m sure you could pull it off, though. 🙂 #DreamTeam

    1. Thanks lovely. I would really like to have a go at The Gruffalo, but I’m just not sure that I dare mess with it! I know I’m taking my chances with the rest of Julia Donaldson’s work as it’s so brilliant, but The Gruffalo!? Eek! I’d have loved to have read your version though! 😉 x

  5. #marvmondays #candidcuddles #dreamteam yes!!! we are snails and i love it. i like to hide in it, use my shell as armour and i call my shell ‘make up’ – its saves most days of the week and all selfies

  6. This is again fabulous! I’ve only experience the Gruffalo supper book – but I am sure I will soon be delving deep into Julia Donaldson! But in the meantime I am quite happy with your rhymes! Superb! #DreamTeam

  7. Wonderful. Makes me feel a bit emotional actually. I think I would have cracked several times over the last 2 years (many of those over the last few weeks as my toddler literally has ‘Terrible Twos’ switched on!) without my Mum Friends, Google* or the lovely blogging community who remind me I AM NOT ALONE!


    *Google has sometimes caused me more stress than help but I’d still not be without it!

  8. LOVE this, another brilliant twist on an excellent kids book. We all need mum friends, parenting is a very lonely place without them. I friggin love your blog Dawn, always makes me smile and your posts are so relatable xx #BlogCrush #dreamteam

  9. This is brilliant. We are huge Julia Donaldson fans. This was one of the first books I bought the boys and we still read it all the time. You have captured this mummy tale perfectly x #DreamTeam

  10. Oh this is fab! No wonder you got TWO nominations for it on #blogcrush this week! I can see myself in this so much, and I love that you make such an important point (about making mummy friends) in such a humourous, non-preachy way. You’re def one of my favourite bloggers 🙂 #blogcrush

  11. Oh Dawn, I love this so so much. I shed a little tear at the end, it’s so beautifully written. I laughed so hard at the note at the end about mums not being snails!! So glad I met you and annette, my blogging MFF’s ❤ xx #dreamteam

  12. Er, welling up here and a tear shed! I loved this, so many poignant parts all brought together humorously but with real (at the coal face) parenting depth that we can all relate to. LOVED IT xx #prose4thought

  13. You have taken my favourite Julia Donaldson book and really done it credit. The words are beautifully written and are so full of meaning. I really do love this Dawn, well done. Thanks for linking to Prose for Thought x

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