There is a woman that exists, though no one has ever found her or met her. Mothers everywhere strive to be her. They follow her examples, strive to achieve all this woman accomplishes. We measure our own successes & failures against the precedent of this infamous idol of perfection.
The Perfect Mum.
Last week I wrote a post My foray with postnatal depression & one common thread kept repeating itself from almost everyone who messaged, commented or spoke with me.
I wanted to be the perfect mum.
So I pose the question here, what makes a perfect mum?
Is it the mum who stays home to raise her children - or is it the mum who returns to work to build a better future for her children?
Is it the mum who spends hours in the kitchen cooking every meal from bare scratch, with organic everything - or is it the mum who cooks quick nutritious meals in fifteen minutes flat?
Is it the mum who home schools her children - or the mum who drops her children off to school every weekday?
Is it the mum who bounced back to her former pre-baby svelte self - or is it the mum who still has her pregnancy weight five years on?
Is it the mum who breastfeeds her toddler - or the mum who lovingly gazes at her baby while he drinks formula from a bottle?
Is it the mum who puts her own dreams & aspirations on hold as she dedicates her whole self to raising her children - or the mum who regularly takes time away from her children to do things by herself that make her happy?
Is it the mum who keeps her house clean & tidy what seems every minute of every day - or the mum who has a sink full of dishes & a thick layer of dust coating most surfaces?
Is it the mum with the perfect hair style & immaculately applied make up - or the mum with a hastily tied pony tail & baby vomit on her shoulder. In public.
Is it the mum who regularly sits down to do craft time with her children - or the mum who has an aversion to all things glitter & paint?
Is it the mum who always looks calm & serene - or the mum with the deep frown lines & stressed look upon her face?
Is it the mum who feeds & rocks her eleven month old baby to sleep - or the mum who follows a controlled crying routine?
I could go on. The helicopter parent, the attached parent, the free range parent, the authoritarian parent. All these labels confirm there is no perfect, ideal way to parent. At the end of the day every child, every baby, every tweenager & teenager need the same bone deep conviction - they are loved without reserve. Everything always comes back to that - a soul deep, universe wide love.
So this perfect mum, this mythical creature that debilitates us, as she inspires us to reach further. I've never met her.
I see her though. I recognise her, in every mum I know.
Every mum I see holding her back straight as she pushes her screaming, tantrum throwing toddler through the shop.
I see her as she puts jars of baby food & cans of formula in her trolley.
I see her in the mum who home schools her children.
I see her on my way to school when she's driving to work.
I see her in the mums taking their child to playgroup.
I recognise her in the lone woman sitting quietly in a cafe.
I see her when she's pushing her child on the swings, kicking the ball at the park, building sandcastles at the beach.
I see her when she's trying to reason with a defiant three year old, creating boundaries with a freedom seeking twelve year old, grasping for more patience with a sulky eight year old.
I spot her in waiting rooms when she is trying to stop her children from jumping on the chairs.
I see her doing the best she can, as she can, in that moment.