Mother’s Day is approaching, I’m certain it will get to the stage where my kids won’t bother with it, but currently; young, innocent, and with me still on a pedestal, I will be woken by kisses and cards telling me I’m the perfect Mum. In the following days every time I pass the cards I will smile, thinking how blessed I am, but likewise I will feel guilty too, feel that I don’t live up to their sentiments, that I could never be the perfect mum.
In truth, Motherhood isn’t exactly how I pictured it. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, people insinuated that, but growing up, my visions of Motherhood were picture perfect. Babyhood – me in a bright bedroom, curtains flapping, changing a contented baby, just lying there, playing with its feet. Toddlerdom – strolling down the canal, hand in hand, pointing at fluffy ducklings in the early Spring sunshine. Childhood – plaiting each other’s hair. There are moments of perfection often, but they are short lived and punctuated with incredibly imperfect episodes. No one ever warned me that nappy changes take ninja skills, that babies never lie still, and you run a high chance of being covered in excrement. They never mentioned I would be so sleep deprived I would be running on autopilot for the first few years. It was only when I had a toddler that I realised walks by the canal caused more stress than good, as they will always aim to chuck themselves in. And sure, I get to plait my kids’ hair, but it’s usually as I scream like a banshee to get them to put their shoes on and get out the door on time. Motherhood involves a lot more shouting than I imagined, and I hate that about me…
The thing is, my version of Motherhood sounds like normality for so many people, but in the early days I didn’t know that. I would look around the coffee shop at my antenatal friends, their babies asleep in the buggy beside them, or feeding quietly, while I was constantly on my feet, rocking or swaying, so we could last just a few minutes without tears. I couldn’t understand why my baby wouldn’t go down at night, why I seemed to be the only one getting it all wrong. Well, I wasn’t, but it took months before I stopped beating myself up about it and accepted the fact that there isn’t such a thing as a ‘perfect mum’. Mothers are human, it might seem like they have superhuman powers, but they don’t. Mums lose it when their patience is tried, they feel guilty for going to work and being away from their children, and likewise feel guilty for missing adult conversation when at home with them all day. There will never be a single day where we do everything right.
I’ve accepted this, and I feel I can talk freely about it now, but the problem is, so many people don’t feel that they can, or should. This January Family Action launched their ‘Family Monsters’ campaign, highlighting the struggle ALL families feel at some stage, it may be the overwhelming parental guilt, or anxiety that comes with having a family. Perhaps there are money troubles, or a feeling that there is a lack of support. Family Action want to end the taboo surrounding the everyday struggles. Statistics show 32% of people would like to talk to someone, 16% aren’t sure where to even begin, and almost half of families won’t do anything at all about their problems. Family Action are there to support those in need, but the first step is to reach out to others and in doing so realising you are not the only one with these worries. This year why not share how you faced your family pressures over social media using the hashtag #MyFamilyMonsters so we can all be there for each other. And if social media isn’t your thing, why not just invite a friend or two over and share, no matter how hard it is, because you will soon see we are not all living ‘instaperfect’ worlds, and there definitely isn’t a perfect mum.