I’d just started to be able to function properly again, and wee without wincing, and then I was hit with a torrent, of, well…almost rules?
Except those rules change every day. Every second. It just depends who you are.
For a long time I have been searching for the ideal of a ‘perfect mum’, I think we all do this. We all look at ourselves and try and build a better model.
A bit like those celebrity mashes – you take the best eyes from Cameron Diaz, and yeah, you’d definitely have Angelina Jolie’s lips and what about Kim K’s bum? When you’re done, you think, when it comes to the big reveal, that you’re going to have the perfect woman looking back at you and in fact, the combination of all of those different features actually look a little bit odd together. They feel a little bit odd.
And that’s just like motherhood.
It feels odd, because it’s just not you.
For a long time I have wanted to be a lot of different things, perhaps some that I am not yet, and some that I never will be.
I used to want to be a stay-at-home mother so badly. I felt it was almost unfair that I wasn’t. I really wanted it. I wanted to be my mum at the time – she was the one feeding my nine week-old son my breastmilk, that was expressed in the server room at work, from a bottle. She used to send me videos and I felt like I was watching my baby grow up through a screen sometimes.
I used to want to be an older mother because I was so young and surprised when I had my son and I had moments of such doubt and such struggle. I waved goodbye to travelling, impromptu nights at the pub, and, well, my 20s.
I used to blame myself for not having a ‘normal’ family set-up because I don’t have one. At least by societal standards. I wave goodbye to my son every week. I don’t like it. At all.
But I can’t change it.
I cannot change any of these things.
I could start saying things like: “I work. And it’s hard, but I have time to be myself, in a thriving environment. And I miss my son, more than you could know, but I get a pay cheque every month and we’re able to do things together as a result. Yay!”
But then you might feel like I’m justifying myself and a) I don’t have to actually, and b) I don’t want you to think that what is right for me, is actually what is right for you.
I breastfeed, or I did at least. My house is pretty tidy and I like it that way. I don’t abandon my child in front of a television and I’m not Mary Poppins. It just works for me. I like to cook. I’m good at that. And it makes me happy. So I might cook from scratch, not because I want to rub it in your face, but because, well, I sing along to The Carpenters or Jason Derulo while I do it and I really have the best time. I’m like Ratatouille, but a human.
The things I find challenging about motherhood are not so much the tantrums and the mess, but the guilt
I own Converse, but don’t like them, because they just aren’t me. I have a mum tum, but still wear crop tops because high-waisted jeans make me feel confident enough to do so. You can call me a Yummy Mummy, or a Hipster Mum if you want to and give me that label, but you might be forgetting that I lost over three stone. And it was really, really hard doing that. I don’t want a label. I just want to be myself.
And that’s it, mothers, mums, mummies, mamas, or whatever your babies call you, you have to do you.
Don’t feel that, just because an authority says that breast is best that you are not. Don’t read the articles that start with “10 Things That Every Mum…” and panic because you don’t relate to points 2, 3, 7, 8 and 10. Don’t feel bad because your washing pile is taller than your eldest.
You don’t have to be her.
You don’t have to be. If you’re looking for the perfect mother, wipe the toothpaste smears from the bathroom mirror, really look at yourself at the dressing table, stop in the car for a moment (safely ladies) and look at yourself in the rear-view mirror, or catch a glance in a passing window.
Or, the best bet, crouch down, or look up, depending on how big your babies are. And look in their eyes. It takes a while to focus, but you’re see a warped reflection of a woman looking back at you.
She’s who you need to be.
Just do you.
Sod the rest.
It’s exactly what we tell our children to do. We say: “Just be you, everyone else is taken.” Or other phrases we find on Pinterest, or ones we remember from our own mothers telling us when we were small.
So I suppose I’m telling you.
Just do you.
It’s all we want for our children, and actually all our children could ever want for us.