I read a brilliant post last week by Lauren over at Dilan and Me. It was about being kind to ourselves and how hard we find it to celebrate our strengths, instead berating ourselves for our failings, always self deprecating and never just accepting a compliment when it is given. It really got me thinking, because there is one area in my life that I absolutely cannot stand being complimented on. One phrase that makes me feel so awkward I would rather spontaneously combust than hear it. That phrase is…
‘you’re such a good mum’
Oh god, the horror. It’s like nails down a blackboard to me. Imagine someone saying it to you now… does it give you a warm fuzzy feeling or does it make you cringe? Do you feel the urge to burst into nervous laughter and shout ‘Noooooo, no I’m not. I’m terrible! I’m an AWFUL mother’? Because I do.
Does your mind immediately present you with 6 recent scenarios when you felt like anything but a ‘good mum’ as you blush and think ‘if only you knew the truth’?
To think that someone thinks I’m worthy of praise, oh It makes me feel so guilty. Because I’m not. That’s not to say that I really think I’m a bad mum, just no better or worse than anyone else. A lot of people, no matter how well they know us or how much time they spend with us, they still only really see a fraction of our lives don’t they? I might have been feeling tip top and winning at life when you saw us on the way to the park… but nobody saw me bribe Greta with a chocolate biscuit to get her shoes on, or shout at Mabel ‘JUST SIT ON THE BLOODY TOILET AND TRY WILL YOU? OR WE WONT GO TO THE PARK’ before we left the house.
I probably did look like an excellent example of motherhood when I put that photo up on facebook of the girls doing some painting yesterday. But there was no photo posted of when Carl arrived home that night to them eating nutella out of the jar and no dinner in the oven. I am a good Mum, who has shit mum moments… pretty much the same as every other mum who has ever lived.
It’s talked about quite a lot at the moment, how people’s social media profiles can give you a warped view on their life. I’ve read countless posts telling me to look beyond the filter, see the mess that has been cropped out, the argument that happened straight after the shutter release. We all like a pretty picture, and the rise of Instagram and new mobile technology means that we can all take, crop, edit and post a photo right from our phones. It’s easier than ever to show the more beautiful side of life and hide the bits we’re not so proud of. And to be honest I defend anyone’s right to do that, whether it’s for creative reasons or maybe you’re just struggling at the moment and focusing on the positives is what’s getting you through the day. It’s up to each individual person what parts of their life they want to share and what they want to keep private.
But I feel a bit of responsibility I suppose, as someone who shares parts of my life online, to show all sides of motherhood. The ‘omg I love these kids more than life and I’ve had the best day running through the woods with them’ bits as well as the ‘they painted my wall with black paint and I shouted all day, I really feel like I’ve failed today’ bits. Motherhood is both of those and a million other things, it’s not all cupcakes and cuddles but it’s not all tantrums and sleep deprivation either.
I never want to make myself appear to have this parenting thing figured out, because I don’t. I don’t want to make it look easier, or more fun than it is. It is fun and parts of it can be easy, but it’s neither of those things 100% of the time for anyone, I can guarantee that. I really try to balance out what I post online, but if I’m having a good run then it might sway slightly more towards the smug side of the spectrum and when things have gone to shit then there will be more moaning than usual, that’s just life.
So that’s why when someone says to me ‘oh you’re such a good mum’ it gives me a sinking feeling of guilt, like I’ve accidentally deceived them somehow.
But maybe I shouldn’t be feeling like that? Have I really deceived them? Life is full of good moments and bad moments and moments when you know you’ve totally nailed it and moments we wish we could do again and at the end of the day, we’re all good mums aren’t we? And we should be able to tell that to each other and to tell ourselves. Good mum doesn’t mean perfect mum, it doesn’t mean mum-who-has-never-lost-her-shit-in-Aldi, it doesn’t mean better-than-anyone-else mum. It just means a mum, who is trying her best.
So maybe I should be able to hear it without flinching, maybe I should even be able to say it…
I am a good mum.
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