I am writing this for your own good, for our own good really. I know you don’t think you are an idiot, which is kind of one of the main issues, and why I have deemed it necessary to take action. You actually seem to fancy yourself as a bit of a smarty pants with your time saving ideas, stupid lists and unrealistic expectations. But let me be clear, you are a fool. And it’s about time someone told you – other than your husband, who we both know rarely gets a fair hearing.
So here you / we are, bumbling along, and it’s all going pretty well you know. We have a nice life, a loving family, great friends and a roof over our heads. The child we always wanted is here, throwing his weight and love around in equal measure, filling each day with laughter and also with screams, slaps and poo.
It isn’t always easy, it isn’t always lovely, but overall, we are happy and we are so grateful for what we have. So why, for the love of Igglepiggle, do you keep sweating the small stuff?
First up, I really need you to stop comparing yourself to other Mums – you will never come up to scratch because you are only seeing what you want to see, not the full picture. You wouldn’t pitch other children up against your son – perish the thought! So why are you doing it to yourself?
Comparing the inside of your life with the outside of someone else’s will always leave you faring and feeling worse. However you don’t see them every day, you don’t watch them at home (and please don’t start, it’s illegal), and you have no idea how others manage their day, time, house and hair. If you want to do your nails while you could be sleeping, or iron late into the evening instead of relaxing, be my guest. But I think we both know which you would rather. It’s all about priorities, pal.
Next up, what is with this sudden obsession with a perfect house? Since when did you even see the skirting boards, let alone care if they were dusted? Who are you and what have you done with my make do and don’t look former self? I know being at home more means you notice the housework and that you make more mess, I know that it can get you down and I know that it’s a bit frustrating when the baby pulls everything out that you have tidied away, mixes the clean washing with the dirty and crushes biscuits into the carpet. Did listing it out help? I kind of wondered if it might make it worse, sorry.
However all you can do is all you can do. And remember – no one cares. If you can clean and tidy some days, clean and tidy. If you can’t, because the baby is being even more rogue than usual, or you are extra tired and unable to do more than sip coffee and grunt, what do you think will happen? Nothing bar a few more biscuit crumbs – at least he can’t make a mess again if you haven’t cleared it up in the first place. The world will neither end, nor notice.
Lastly, we need to talk about who you actually are versus who you think you should be. Pre-baby, it’s not like you used to swan about your immaculate house with perfect hair and make-up doing yoga stretches, far from it. You’ve never been that person, or had those priorities, so if you thought you were going to start now with a tot wiping his nose on your calf as you try to brush the dried milk sick out of your hair, you really are more of a wally than I first feared.
It’s OK that you are not perfect you know. Being fallible, making mistakes, having limits; it’s all normal. You’re not worse off for it and pretty much everyone is in the same boat, it’s just some have a neater lick of paint and a shinier mast.
Maybe you couldn’t do the job of the next Mum, who knows? But you’re doing this one, even on the days you want to phone in sick or hand your notice in. You’re the only one fit for the job of Mummy here, and if he could understand the concept and vocalise it, the baby would tell you you’re doing a grand job. And also ask for more cake. Everyone is fed, mostly clean and pretty happy, it could be a lot worse. Just think, one day the baby won’t nap anymore and then you’ll have something to moan about!
So keep singing the clapping frog song, keep sharing your fruit (and cereal and everything on your plate), keep playing the silly games you secretly love, keep tickling those ears, toes and chubby legs, and keep whooshing down the slide again, again, again. Because these are the things you will look back on with love and pride and these are the things that matter, over and above anything else. You won’t ever regret choosing hugs over hoovering, I promise.
And when you don’t have the time or inclination to iron your clothes, straighten your hair or exfoliate (not that you actually know what exfoliating is), remind yourself that it’s because you are putting your time and energy into something, or someone more precious, who needs all that you are able to give just now. So perhaps you should see these things as being less about inadequacies and more about choices – and maybe you’re choosing wisely.
Please stop thinking about your shortcomings, your bad days or the things that don’t go to plan. In fact, there should be no plan – rip up the plan, spit and stamp on the plan if you so desire. Call the plan a few choice names. Go on, I won’t tell.
What you are doing… is enough. Being a Mum… is enough. You… are enough.
That’s all you need to remember, oh and also to buy more milk today.
Your more realistic self x
Is it just me who requires a stern word with myself every now and then? Anyone else? Please…
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