Sometimes I lean on my kitchen tops with my head in my hands, the heels of my palms pushing into my eyes and wonder what kind of higher power would make this whole motherhood thing so hard. Then, I pour myself a glass of wine, put a bit of red lipstick on and get the fuck on with it all because you know what? I’m too busy worrying about being an awesome mama that I often forget that for 99.99% of the time, you just need to be good enough.
My head is in my hands because I haven’t served an organic meal, or she’s watching TV while I drink a glass of wine and look at Instagram. My head is in my hands because I’ve run myself into an anxiety-riddled mess because I didn’t treat the stains and (funnily enough) a 30 wash didn’t get the mud out out of her white vest and now she’ll be known as Billie the Stained at nursery. Or sometimes my head is in my hands not because of one thing but because it all got too frickin’ much. So, here’s my letter to mamas new and old.
It’s 6.15pm and I’m feeling for you. I know where you are right now. You’re at the end of another really long day. Maybe it was a good one, maybe it wasn’t but it was long – they always are. Ironically, though, they never seem quite long enough.
You haven’t got all the laundry done, you’ve still got a pile of ironing to do and you’ve probably thrown out a load of expensive meat because you haven’t had one goddamn minute to cook it and now, five days past its expiry date, it actually walked itself to the bin. It doesn’t matter that you spent all day picking stuff up and putting it away, or sweeping up crumbs, or wiping surfaces…you’ll still look around after bedtime and see an hour’s worth of tidying and cleaning to do.
And don’t even talk to me about the cushions.
Your Small has watched at least an hour of TV today and it wasn’t the good kind of TV. It wasn’t educational in the slightest. It was Frozen or Finding Nemo because she’s seen through your plan of ‘educational TV’ and you just can’t face the fight. She doesn’t want to count buses, or do Yoga with the Waybaloos; she just wants to vague out in a TV-induced coma. And that’s ok.
You could sit down and read another book with her, or build blocks or play dollies or pretend to be Simba and sing about how you just can’t wait to be King, but you feel like you might rip your hair out and knot it into a rope with which to hang yourself and every dream you ever had for your life if you don’t have just five minutes to yourself. And that’s ok.
You plan your day in blocks of time according to naps, meals and activities. On a good day, this all comes together and before you know it, it’s bedtime. On a bad day, friends cancel on you, Smalls don’t nap and just when you’re ready to pour yourself a gin, you’ll look up to see that it’s only 10.30am. Time is a cruel, cruel master on days such as these. And that’s ok.
You’ll tell your mother-in-law that you homemade organic fish cakes for dinner while you handout baked beans and fish fingers. You’ll feel guilty for lying but you’ll just add it to the list of other things you didn’t manage to do perfectly today. You’ll hand out chocolate biscuits in the car on the way home from swimming, even thought it’s lunch time, because there’s no way in hell you’re risking the Small falling asleep in the car and shitting over the sanctity of nap time. And that’s ok.
You’ll only hoover the carpet you can see and the sofa will continue to hide an infection-riddled pile of dust bunnies, toys and scraps of discarded food. The Small’s toys will remain jumbled up and chaotic – it’s more fun for them if they have to hunt for vital puzzle pieces anyway. Books will live out their days with torn pages that you never get around to taping up, carpet will remain stained, nappies will sit on windowsills in the heat. And that’s ok.
You probably won’t shower everyday. You’ll get really good at hygiene shortcuts. Headbands, dry shampoo, air freshener are awesome ways to fake a shower. You’re likely to never wear matching socks and matching undies are even less likely. It’s totally normal that you’re still busting out the sexy maternity pants every now and again as well. And that’s ok.
The list of shit we didn’t do very well or at all, will go on and on and you’ll beat yourself up about every single thing. You’ll wonder how all the other mothers are managing it and why you seem to be the only one swamped in incompetency but know this…you are good enough. You are not perfect, but perfect is boring anyway and (in my experience) a big fat lie. Everyone is struggling, everyone is spinning plates and poo and piles and piles of laundry. We’re all feeling guilty for one reason or another because we all think that everyone else is doing it better.
They’re not. In fact, no one is doing it as well as you are. You’re keeping Small humans alive. You don’t need to be doing it brilliantly and you definitely don’t need to be doing it perfectly. It just needs doing…but not at the expense of your sanity or soul. If, at the end of the day, your Smalls are alive and your house isn’t condemned then it’s a win and you were good enough.
Not So Smug Now x