Perfect or Imperfect: Mummies, You Rule

 

We all know Perfect Mum.

Or at least we think we do. We’ve seen her about; in the supermarket, the doctors surgery, outside the school gates, in the park. In the magazines, on the tv, in the movies, on our Instafeed. We know what she looks like: she has makeup on, the natural look. She wears clean, comfortable but stylish clothes. Her hair looks good, tied up in a simple shiny ponytail. Her children wear carefully chosen Mini Boden and her buggy is a crisp clean aerodynamic machine. She squeezes in a yoga session and makes smoothies for breakfast, whilst stuffing the kids lunch boxes with various crudités and homemade dips. Her baby is weaned with organic purees according to the Annabel Karmel calendar and there is a stack of frozen homemade meals in the freezer for emergencies. At the weekends the family take to the seaside where hubby has baby in a carrier and mum is free to run up and down the beach with the toddler. At school sports day, the Perfect Mum chats and chortles with the other parents and teachers until it gives her a headache, then takes part in the mummy and daddy races…and wins!

***

We all know Imperfect Mum.

Or at least we think we do. We’ve seen her in the same places, in our local town and in the national press. She’s been slated for giving her child juice instead of water, her belly circled in Closer magazine 6 months after giving birth and was spotted putting out the bins, with a tear streaked face. She wears no makeup; and dresses in pyjamas or tracksuit bottoms. Her hair was brushed..a few days ago. Her children wear lovely outfits for about 5 minutes before pouring cereal down themselves or peeing their pants, and then, upset with having to get dressed again they cooperate only if they can wear their hideous Primark onesie. The buggy is a good one, second hand Phil & Teds from Gumtree. It’s a bitch to carry just after you’ve given birth though. The Imperfect Mum ends up streaking her tracksuit bottoms with mud trying to kick the heavy wheels into place. She grabs biscuits for breakfast and is relieved that nursery will get her fussy eater to eat a hot dinner today, so that she can just sort her out with Dairylea on toast later. The baby gulps down jars of Cow & Gate and the odd Ella’s Kitchen when they are on offer. When the day is over and hubby comes home, he sorts their dinner – grabbed quickly from Tesco express. At the weekend the family take to the seaside where mum spends most of her time stopping toddler from running into the sea and dealing with a tantrum afterwards; whilst hubby tries placating the screaming baby who is hungry and cold. At school sports day the Imperfect Mum opts out of the races, sitting gratefully on the grass, enjoying the sun on her face, people watching and not talking to anyone – it’s bliss.

***

These two women couldn’t be more different. They would judge each other for their triumphs and failings – wouldn’t they?

Well actually, no. Because these aren’t two different women – they are the same person. With the exception of the aerodynamic buggy (maybe for child number 3, ho ho ho) this woman is me. And every other mother I know.

I didn’t realise that Perfect Mum was in me until this morning. The toddler, baby and I were all on our way to nursery. The sun was shining and I said “let’s race!” so for a moment we all ran. Toddler was belly laughing with joy, which set me off too. She looked so cute: running at full little-leg speed, wearing her next-size-up coat and her bright red wellies. Baby was asleep in the pram, the hood of her fluffy coat framing her serene little face. We ran and we laughed, we laughed and we ran. The moor stretched ahead of us and in the very distance, on the horizon, I could see the sea sparkling. I had a moment: this is wonderful; I am truly blessed. I get those moments a lot. From a window, another mum watched me; ‘Perfect Mum’ in full action, sleek ponytail bobbing behind me, skinny jeans clean on today, smiling with adoration down at my children.

She didn’t realise who I was yesterday. Perfect Mum doesn’t exist. Because Perfect Mum is a fallacy and can easily change like a chameleon into someone completely different.

Yesterday I shut myself in the bathroom and took some deep, what were supposed to be therapeutic breaths. It might have worked had I not been interrupted with hammering on the door from the toddler and the sound of the baby kicking off. I ran past them, grabbed the phone and called my mum: “I can’t do this anymore!!! I don’t want to be a mother!” What an awful thing to say. I feel quite sick just thinking of it. I didn’t mean it. I was just so desperate in that moment, those untruthful emotional words came out. At the time my mouth was dry as I hadn’t had a glass of water for hours (HOW can that happen, you ask. I ask myself the same thing, on a day like today, how did I not manage to grab myself a quick glass of water? I have no idea. I am the same person today as I was yesterday. Things just worked out differently). If I had looked out of the window and seen the Perfect Mum I think I would have cried with guilt that I was failing so badly and everyone else seemed to be finding it easy. Little did I know that I would be her in 24 hours.

***

I have been to picnics where I have successfully managed to pack carrot sticks, red peppers and hummus into mini tupperware. I have also been on days out where I have grabbed a jar of sweet potato and cauliflower mush and shoved it into the changing bag (guess which one my weaning eldest ate?) Somedays I have make-up on. Most days I don’t. Sometimes the pram will go up. Sometimes it gets stuck and ALWAYS when the wheels are wet and muddy and the car parked next to me has left us with 2 inches to manouvere in. Just like the weather, days being a mum vary and even with all the planning in the world it can be unpredictable. Like birth.

A few weeks ago, I had a brilliant birth. YES. I actually wrote this in the announcement text: “happy to announce that baby is here…8lb…both well…great birth.” Great birth? Why did I write that? Because the previous birth was so horrendous that I felt this was as much to celebrate as the fact that my child was safely here! I sent my texts and picked up baby, who ‘latched on’ to me beautifully and gulped away (which was incredible – just incredible).

In the bed opposite me I could hear a mother quietly weeping. I couldn’t help but hear her speaking with the nurse and her husband. She had an assisted delivery and it had gone ok, her baby was well and healthy but she said “I just must be in a bit of shock! Sorry…*sob*” The poor girl. She was me, two and a half years ago. I did the same thing at the time: cried the next day with shock, apologising and justifying to myself that it was probably a perfectly normal thing for all mothers to do after birth. I knew now: it wasn’t. The nurse moved round to my bed and drew back the curtains. I caught the crying mother’s eyes and looked away. I couldn’t bear to think what she was going through and what she must think of me: the smiling, ‘Perfect Mum’. I hope it’s her next time.

To every mum. You are Perfect Mums, you are Imperfect Mums. You are both – not one, or the other. For every perfect moment there is an imperfect moment waiting around the corner. And the same applies on the days when you are guiltily counting the hours til bedtime – the next day you will be laughing and counting all of your lucky stars. When we look back in years to come, we will realise: every moment is important: the great ones and the dire ones. Every moment makes us A TRUE MUM.

 

This article is dedicated to all the mums on my ward at Derriford Hospital, Plymouth and to all the midwives, doctors and nurses who looked after us through our perfect & imperfect births. And to my girls. I love you so much. 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
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26 thoughts on “Perfect or Imperfect: Mummies, You Rule

  1. What a great post. You get it spot on. I love those moments when everything feels utterly perfect and you feel blessed and like a fricking legend. But boy do I hate those moments when you feel an utter failure, catch a glimpse of your frizzy, harassed hair in a reflection (who has time for mirrors?) and feel totally imperfect. I have a lot more of the latter days as a mum of 2. I rocked as a mum of one (well, some of the time!) and then jumped into having no2 quite quickly – how hard can a 2 year old and newborn combo be??!!
    Today I had a definite imperfect morning – so thanks for this. Has cheered me up. Now feeling pretty damn hot having made it to a Zumba class and now cooking dinner for friends – in advance – of them visiting tomorrow. Might even attempt banana bread…or maybe that’s going to far. Thanks Tilly X

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    • I’m so glad you enjoyed it – thanks for reading! Wow sounds like you are on it!! That’s more than I can achieve in a month at the moment…maybe one day in the future! Yes we all need to take the pressure off ourselves. Being a multitasking mum is hard blooming work, for every one of us (apart from possibly those with a Nanny, cook and cleaner? although I expect Kate Middleton still gets days where she would actually rather be in pyjamas) If we didn’t have imperfect days as well as the perfect days there would be something very wrong! x

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  2. Oh I LOVE, LOVE , LOVE this post. Such a great post and actually a really important post. I spend so much time feeling like I am surrounded by perfect yummy mummies and that can be hard because you start comparing yourself to them. I am in awe of how they get their hair dryed perfectly, skinny jeans that are clean *sigh* but like you say this isn’t reality. Next time I see their botox (maybe, this has not been proven) faces I shall not compare!

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    • Yep it’s true. Those perfect mums are just having a good day. A few hours before and after you see them, they are slumped on the sofa with cbeebies blaring and a snotty toddler crawling all over their milk spotted trakkie bottoms, contemplating whether to wash their hair this week or to blast it with the dry shampoo again. Most of them anyway 😉 Thank you so much for reading this post, glad you enjoyed it! x

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  3. This is so true for me too but I have just never really thought about it. But I was say I am IM a LOT more than the perfect mother #KCACOLS

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  4. Oh this a beautiful post! All the highs and lows, good and bad – that’s what makes us a mum. After all how boring would our lives be if everything was perfect? I’ve been thinking a lot lately about reminding myself to cherish these moments. My boys are growing up too fast and I want them to stop!

    Thank you for linking up to #KCACOLS I hope to see you back again next week Xx

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    • Yes I could relate to your latest post too. It is too easy to see negativity on challenging days; we need to look at the bigger picture – being a true mum is taking the rough with the smooth and still being proud of what we achieve! Thank you for your kind comment x

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  5. What a beautiful post! It is so nice to see mums supporting other mums. I hate seeing people debating and trying to put each other down, everyone is different and people cope with things in different ways and some people hide things better than others. Just because you see a mum in new clothes and perfect hair and make up walking down the street doesn’t mean to say she wasn’t having a mental breakdown at 4 am this morning or that all her housework is done!
    #fortheloveofBLOG

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    • Thank you I’m so glad you enjoyed reading this. Yeah there is a lot of judging when it comes to parenting. It’s the toughest job ever so we need to be kinder to each other and to ourselves!!

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  6. Great post! I totally agree and think we all need to chill out and stop judging each other and just help each other out. Your daughters are adorable! #KCACOLS

    Nicole | The Professional Mom Project

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  7. This is so true! We’ll always have our perfect and imperfect moments, and that’s okay. We give ourselves such a hard these days, trying to do things perfectly, when in reality we are all amazing just for getting through this crazy life of parenting and it’s challenges, whether we do it perfectly, or imperfectly! #fortheloveofBLOG

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    • I felt like that recently when I went out with baby and toddler for the first time to soft play…got in the room and everyone had their buggies parked, chatting drinking coffee whilst their kids played. I managed to bash the tables as I went in and then couldn’t find anywhere to sit and it was about 100 degrees in there so I was sweating in my coat! However next time will be easier I might find a table and be able to handle my pram…! we all have good and bad days. Hope you settle into your new town soon. Thanks for reading xxx

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  8. Such a great post. People need to know the reality of life, while having children is exceptional, you are a person too, who will struggle and change and that’s ok, but people just need to know that it is a struggle and that emotions are there, they are real, we are human begins after all (: #BigPinkLink

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  9. I am the mum struggling to put up the Phil & Teds pushchair, normally swearing under my breath too!
    There is a perfect mum at my daughter’s nursery, I secretly hope she has a messy house because surely know one can be that perfect?!
    Having two young children is sooo hard, some times my husband comes home and I tell him I’m done with parenting!

    Also, it was lovely to meet you at the weekend 🙂

    #bigpinklink

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  10. Haha I had my son at Derriford and kindly said no thank you when they offered him to me after 30 hours of birthing hell. I am not often PM but I think trying to be her makes me that way. I love this post, very open and lovely. There can be too many expectations on mums. Especially when you first become a mum and you don’t know that it is ok to live in your pjs! #Fortheloveofblog

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  11. I always look around at the school gates and see these perfect mums looking amazing in their stylish clothes and I feel so frumpy. But after reading this it just made me realise that we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect that we forget to enjoy and appreciate those “perfect” moments when they come along. Realising that I’m not alone in feeling like the Imperfect Mum makes me feel much better.

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  12. And this is a perfect post!! Absolutely brilliant, wonderfully written, and so important to remember. But, skinny jeans…? Are you really in those? Because this will have serious implications for the future of our friendship if you are!! Yes, I beat myself up every single day with my first baby, forcing myself to be fully made up and hair done every day, and comparing what I felt were my failures against other mums-looking back, it was exhausting. Nowadays I check myself if I think I’m getting to the point of slovenly, but don’t bother with the hair and makeup if I’m not feeling it. Some days I’ll be out with the children and old ladies will fawn over them and say how cute they are, and they will wave and smile back, their blond hair framing their angelic faces. Most days they will be punching and scratching each other, upsetting the oldies in Costa with their terrible behaviour. I had to get rid of my second hand Phil and Teds-it was the bane of my life!!! I’ve also phoned my mum and told her I can’t do it anymore-you’re definitely not alone there… Fabulous post, thanks for sharing with #bigpinklink

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    • I am but I have a secret…a hair band looped twice to extend the button up part of the jeans! Shhh… Then as soon as I get home they come straight off. That reminds me I remember doing water babies with my first and there was a girl there, in – I kid not – a white bikini. No secrets there. I couldn’t help but hate her brazen skinniness whilst my post natal body wobbled from the swimming pool to the changing rooms…now I have written this I tell myself it’s because she is too stressed to eat. Interesting what you say about the Phil & Teds because I am finding it the heaviest most complicated thing known to man and every time I have the double bit on toddler wants to walk and when I don’t, she ends up sat in the shopping basket feet dragging along the ground…any other recommendation? The funny thing is everyone told me to get a Phil & Teds!! Thanks for reading x

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  13. You’ve hit the nail on the head….we are all Perfect and Imperfect Mums, it completely depends on how your day is going, how your child is behaving, have they had a nap today, have they eaten today etc…..We might seem like a Perfect Mum to an outsider looking in, but in reality we are being an Imperfect Mum and vice versa. I have my days where I feel incredibly proud how my day went, and others where I just want to crawl into a dark cave and sleep. It doesn’t really matter, as in the long term you need to be there for your children, to love and nurture them, you won’t look back and think I really wish I wore those skinny jeans that day. Thanks for joining us again this week at #fortheloveofBLOG, we hope you can join us again next week. Claire x

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