I need to make a public apology. I am deeply sorry for travelling on planes with my children when they were babies and toddlers. I am ashamed. I am remorseful. I am scum. I thought when people ignored my kids they didn't hear, see, smell or feel the pressure to smile at my evil spawns of Satan who had clearly overdosed on arsehole pills.
When I plaintively looked at people for approval and they smiled back, I thought they thought my kids were cute, special even, and that we, the parents, were incredible cultural ambassadors and amazing parental commandos who should be commended, possibly publicly recognised for taking child-rearing to the level of an extreme sport as we displayed commitment to quality time and expanding their horizons.
I now know you thought we were indulgent wankers selfishly inflicting our need to make people think we were better than them on the rest of the world. And the truth is, we were. I am so sorry. It's only now I realise the only reason you smiled back was because, sure, you had eight hours with my evil little freaks but you knew we were all stuck with each other for the rest of our lives.
Where has this sudden urge to apologise come from when my kids are now aged six, eight and 11? Because I recently went to Europe on my own for the first time since having children and I was stuck next to 18-month-old twins. I had no choice but to reach for the alcohol, ear plugs and eye-mask and spend those 24 hours reflecting on the stunning heights of my selfishness and delusion. Please bear with me, I need to share so I can move on and grow.
My wall of shame: a three-year-old in Bali - I am sorry; a one and four-year-old in Vanuatu - guilty as charged; a one, two and five-year-old in Borneo - what was I thinking? A two, three and a six-year-old in Vietnam - shame on me; a three, four and seven-year-old in Thailand - I feel sick just saying it; Sydney twice; Port Douglas three times. They didn't swim there. They went on planes. And I put them there. Please forgive me.
Trust me. Don't do it. Save the money. Get 'em a PlayStation, take them to the pool and buy them a packet of Smarties. If you want to expose them to some culture, cook 'em a stir-fry, buy them a sarong and introduce them to someone whose name ends with a vowel.
All my kids remember from all those expensive back-breaking orgies of cultural delights, natural wonders and flash resorts is the little white van that picked them up from the airport and that they didn't have to wear seatbelts. Oh, and some ''people with black faces'' who served them breakfast and cleaned their room.
Watching grubby, overweight, badly dressed, stressed-out parents wrestling their indulged, whinging little brats into their oversized monster-truck prams as they have car-seat thrones for their precious prince and princesses strapped to their back as they disembark the aircraft makes me want to do to them what I wish someone had done to me. Grab me by the throat, pin me against the wall and ask: ''What exactly are you trying to prove and to who? Get over yourself. You look like crap, haven't had sex since Britney Spears had pubes and are trying to make up for the gaping inadequacies in your life with a nauseating self-congratulatory blog that you think is adorable but we are all laughing at behind your back because it's just a blatant shrine to your raging narcissism.
''And you know that photo album you keep shoving under our noses? The one you ask if we want to see but have no choice? It's nothing but a spin-doctoring press release for your imaginary family.''
Forgive me. I am scum.
Catherine Deveny is the author of It’s Not My Fault They Print Them and Say When both published by Black Inc. Her third collection of columns Free To A Good Home will be released in December 2009.