Everyone who is a perfect mama – so full of poise, confidence and skill that you’re a full-on Stepford mum – raise your hand right now. Anyone? Nope, didn’t think so.
As mums we all know that there is no such thing as perfect parenting, and yet we all seem to be trying so damn hard to be perfect all of the time.
When I was pregnant with my first child I had an image of what kind of mother I would be.
That image did not include me shouting at my kids to “please for the love of god stop crying” in the middle of the supermarket.
I wanted to be a cool, calm and collected mum. The one with all of the answers. A mama who instinctively knew what to do for her children, and who embraced motherhood with such natural ability that everyone admired me for how wonderfully I had adapted to this huge change in my life.
The house would never be untidy and the baby would always be in pristine clothes.
The truth of it is that I am not the mother I thought I would be. That’s because motherhood was not what I expected it to be. No one is prepared for it, even if you’ve read every book, blog and article under the sun.
I don’t always remain patient. I take shortcuts wherever I can. I am not delighted to indulge my children in every book they want to be read and every game they want to play.
Some days I allow them to spend hours and hours in front of the television, something I swore I would never do, because I can’t just miraculously get all the chores done while the kids are at home. And sometimes I just want to stare at Twitter for a while.
There’s already enough pressure coming from a zillion other places.
Pressure from the media.
Pressure from the health service.
Pressure from breastfeeding advocates.
Pressure from social media.
Pressure from fellow parents.
Do we really need any more pressure? And when that pressure comes from ourselves, we all know it ups the guilt factor by about 100 times when we fail to hit the high standards we’ve set.
But the Stepford mum ideal remains in the back of our minds, that desire to be full of patience and able to cater for our children’s every whim, because we are a super mama. The image of the perfect mama we want to be, a mum with the control of Mary Poppins mixed with the energy and fun of a children’s TV presenter.
Sometimes we might try to over compensate, because deep down we know we can’t be the Stepford mum. It’s way too exhausting.
But we try to pour everything into our kids. We cook them healthy meals we hope they will love. We plan fun activities for them at home. We take them to new places that we think they will like.
What happens then when it all goes wrong? Your child rejects the meal and demands a bag of crisps. They put paint hand prints all over the wall and they throw tantrum after tantrum all through the fun day out you had planned.
The fact of the matter is we are not perfect. We all know it. So let’s embrace the fact that we aren’t perfect, and just wing it.
Entertaining your kids all day every day isn’t going to happen. Sometimes you might be ill, you might have stuff to do or you might just be bored of playing with Lego. And that’s ok.
Don’t be ashamed of leaving your children to entertain themselves for an hour while you sit on the sofa doing your own thing.
Don’t be afraid to serve up fish fingers. Stop telling yourself you really should have taken the kids somewhere exciting today. They don’t have to spend every day of their lives at Disneyland to be happy.
You are your children’s perfect mum, just by being you. Try to stop beating yourself up over the supermarket meltdowns and your short temper.
If we could all ditch the Stepford mum image, and instead just enjoy being the mama that we are, then we would all be a lot happier.
Anyone else feel the pressure to be a Stepford mum?