The Perfect Mum…
Before I had children I was determined i would be the perfect mum. Nurturing and patient, calm and composed, I would be a happy stay at home mum with a lovely tidy home, filled with the smells of freshly baked, nutritious delicious meals for my perfectly well behaved children. I watched super nanny & completely agreed with all her pointers for those poor parents who somehow weren’t blessed with the perfect parenting skills I was sure I would have when I had my children. I’m not sure what happened somewhere along the way but lately i found myself feeling full of frustration that this was far from the case – all my lofty ideals were being unmet. This frustration would bubble up at times as ugly, disproportionate anger, followed by being ridden with guilt at how I had snapped at my son or been upset when the baby wouldn’t stop crying.
I started to think about what might be causing anger to bubble up at almost nothing. I realised that by constantly measuring myself up against invisible, self imposed ‘perfect mum’ standard that i never reached, frustration was simmering away as a constant companion. I was so determined to achieve this perfect mother status in my head, I had forgotten what really makes a perfect mum! Maybe a perfect mum is one who is thankful for all she has, happy to put her children’s needs above her own insecurities, able to be honest about the fact that parenting is really hard work with no perfect formula to follow. A single day can be the best day, and the worst day, of proud victory and pride shattering defeat.
As I realised the role this frustration was playing, i became more aware of my day to day thought patterns. Frustrated all day long at this inadequate me, but who was it who was insisting on all the things I had decided in my head were necessary for me to be good enough? Who was it I was trying to impress? When I was crying to my husband about not being able to cook a nice meal without having a meltdown, he said he would be happier having toast and a happy wife! My friends and family love me and support me without condition, even in my worst (least perfect) state. My children love me, cuddle me, laugh with me, enjoy spending every minute with me! They wouldn’t love me less or more if I cooked them fancier meals. The standards and expectations that were constantly out of reach and defining me as a failure were all self set, some kind of pride or desire for appreciation or approval that was all in my mind.
As I’ve turned away from living like that, consciously choosing to put what is truly important first, I’ve noticed two changes. Firstly, I’m more thankful – for what I do have, for what I can do and for my children who love me so unconditionally. Secondly, I’ve realised it is nice to be able to go the extra mile, to have a spotless house (for five minutes), to do amazing activities worthy of a Facebook status update, or cook an exciting new homemade meal, but what really matters isn’t what I do for people, it’s who I am to them. A mum who loves, cuddles and spends quality time with her kids rather than resenting their intrusion. A happy, thankful wife rather than someone stressed out & miserable from failing to overachieve. Someone who listens to and thinks about her friends, rather than being too busy trying to achieve perfection first. I’m so thankful that I’ve had this revelation at this stage rather than when it’s too late. I am who I am, and in the meantime I can be a real mum, a happy mum, a mum who sets a positive example to her children.