I wrote the below status on Mother’s Day last year and it seemed to strike a chord with so many people. (The one before had been one admitting I had a Harry Styles keyring so we were working from quite a low base I guess…) I think the reason that it resonated was because it IS tough being a mum. Way tougher than a stint as a Sales Trader with a brief foray in the national press talking about my “honkers.” And it is SO lovely to be told you are doing a great job, even if you know for a fact that you aren’t as that day your youngest has given your eldest a “totally-age-inappropriate-ninja-weapon-induced” bruise on the cheek and aforementioned youngest has also scrunched up a hand-full of the dinner you lovingly prepared…..and lobbed it at your face. Sob.
You see, when you decide that you would like to give up any chance of spontaneous cinema visits and relaxed long lunches and have children instead, you then spend a lot of time thinking about how to make a child. After that you spend a lot of time thinking about what you need to buy for your precious little person. And a lot of time writing a plan of how to get them OUT (my husband even made a playlist- it had Moby on it- that was not a good call.) But I for one, can’t remember thinking much about what happened after that… how my career might change, how my marriage might change (much threatening of hitting Tom in the face with a spade took place), and how my friendships, my body, my perception of myself and my view on what is “good parenting” might change, not to mention how on earth I might react if my toddler turned to me and said sweetly “mummy- I like it when my willy is a bit pointy!” GAH!
Most of the time I feel like I am winging it. Like a swan who looks quite calm but underneath I am furiously splashing thinking “why the hell are my children in their pants wielding weapons again and its only 3pm?” And “Is it too early to drink wine yet?” I feel like to do this job I need to be some kind of SuperHero: one with X-Ray vision for finding that one very specific, very small piece of plastic that is vital for the day to carry on without at tantrum and Mind Reading Powers to predict which particular vegetable is deeply offensive that day. But also one that is funny, smart, successful, slim, a good friend/wife/daughter and above all has good hair. And I think a lot of other mums feel the same. No wonder we are so bloody tired.
But actually, when I asked my eldest what he wanted to do the other day, anything he wanted, after ruling out “watching TV all day” as an option- he said ” I don’t know- just hang out mummy?” And so we did- reading a bit, doing some cooking, chatting over lunch, going for a bike ride, and yes me checking Facebook whilst he watched Scooby Doo and it was lovely. Really lovely. No farms or zoos or soft plays. Just us. And as he went to sleep he told me that he’d had a fun day and asked if he could marry me. Obviously I will remind him of that when he thinks I’m a loser in years to come- but through the little sob I thought- we are doing ok. He’s polite, he’s smart,- but above all he’s HAPPY. And at the end of the day- that’s what it’s all about really isn’t it? This isn’t like other jobs where you get appraisals and feedback and promotions and CASH rewards as a benchmark for how you are doing. It’s a constant learning experience where you are going to get things wrong, and you are going to have days where it all feels a bit relentless- but if you get to the end of the day and everyone is in one piece and relatively happy- then you must be doing alright.
So if you are a Mum, when Mother’s Day arrives (or even before that) take time to be proud of the job you are doing! Give yourself a huge pat on the back and maybe a large glass of wine at midday and tell your other fellow mum friends that they are doing a great job too. It may be just the thing they need to hear if they are having a bad day. In a cafe recently, a kid deliberately lobbed a bit of pasta that landed on my youngest’s arm and his mum was mortified. Knowing that this could very easily been one of mine (well actually probably not- they are greedy and would never waste food- but you know…) I smiled and said “with aim like that he’s probably going to be a professional Sportsman.” The relief on her face was palpable. She didn’t need me judging her to add to her already messy lunch situation. And to be fair- it WAS a pretty good shot. It doesn’t cost anything to be kind. To each other- but especially to yourself. So try to remember that in amongst all the tiredness. Take your foot off your own neck a bit sometimes. Most of the time the only person judging you- is yourself. And once you let go of that self-doubt it really is a big relief. Trust me- you are doing a BRILLIANT job and there are some little people who may not always show it (especially if you are withholding biscuit rights) – but who love you very very much indeed.
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