To all the less-than-perfect mums
Are you a perfect mum, or a less-than-perfect mum? What about all the other mums you know?
I was thinking about this recently when I saw the trailer for new film Bad Moms (have you seen it? it’s about a frazzled and overworked working mum who snaps and refuses to bow to the conventional demands of the perfect stay at home school mum mafia. I’ve no idea what happens in the end or of the plot intricacies beyond the trailer, but it looks like another in the line of *those* mildly-rubbish-but-potentially-watchable-if-you-have-no-attention-span-and-haven’t-slept-in-a-while-oh-wait-that’s-most-mums films…)
So confession time, I watched the trailer while simultaneously discussing it in a Facebook group of mum friends, with my phone perched behind a cushion, while ignoring both my children who were engrossed in the CBeebies I’d put on because it was a long day at the end of a long week and I we all just needed a minute to zone out and do, well, nothing much really.
Then I thought, ha! Does that make me a bad mum?
Probably. But it’s OK…
There are so many pressures on modern mums to be perfect. We’re constantly bombarded with articles, blog posts, celeb stories, news reports, studies and images about what mothers should look like and be like and say and do and wear and buy and how we should feed our babies and where and when they should sleep and when they should do each thing and when we should do each thing and how we should be angry at people who don’t chose our choices and how many Instagram likes we should have on each photo and you know what? You probably do; it’s combative and competitive and generally, pretty exhausting. I recently read an article saying that it’s been scientifically proven that the myth of the perfect mother makes parenting harder...brilliant.
So in the spirit of sharing, here’s some more ‘bad’ things I do as a mum:
- We are always, always late…and even though I wrote this, sometimes it’s not the children’s fault. A lot of the time we’re late a few hours before we’re due somewhere, and even then I’m powerless to stop it
- All of the ‘rod for your own back’ type things like feeding to sleep and co-sleeping (although I’d argue that these are all the good ones)
- I can’t think of a week in recent memory where we’ve had all the components for the full ballet kit. We had the wrong tights for three weeks. Turned out the right ones were right there in the drawer where I’d left them
- Due to chicken pox and house stuff and general exhaustion we’ve spent a lot of time in the house recently watching Paw Patrol instead of embracing the elements and running round in mud, unplugged and at one with nature (I’m also loathe to go outside when there’s potential for getting my hair wet tbh)
- While I’m often filled with the kind of primal, heart-exploding maternal mother love, I don’t enjoy every minute. Especially not the minutes I really want to be asleep, it’s really noisy, or where I’m covered in sick at 3am
- And we wing it, most of the time.
OK so these aren’t anything major (I’m not talking neglect or dangling them over a tank of piranhas, obviously) but like I said about mum guilt, it’s OK if you have their best interests at heart, and are in tune with their wants and needs and doing your best. And if it’s not perfect, does that make you a bad mum? No, it makes you a normal mum. It’s more normal to be less-than-perfect. That doesn’t make you bad, and it’s more than OK.
I’m very lucky that I don’t know very many ‘perfect’ mums in real life. Every mum I know has some kind of issue with some kind of parenting thing at some point, or takes shortcuts, or does something because it’s the path of least resistance, and they’re all brilliant parents.
And if there was a scale that marked motherhood and perfection, from Mary Poppins – practically perfect child carer – to the complete opposite, then I bet most people with children would sit, cross-legged, happily somewhere in the middle, depending on the day and age and stage and the amount of sleep they’d had and proximity to wine o’ clock. And it’s OK to admit it.
Does this sound like you? Does it sound like a mum you know, or your mum friends?
So here’s to all the less-than-perfect mums (cheers to all the less-than-perfect mums). Here’s to all the normal mums, every one of us.
May we know them, may we be them and may we raise them.