I have read again and again that mothers are often the worst, most critical judges of one another. Very often, I think that extends to women in general, mothers or not. I think a lot of times though, it is all done with good intention and in goodwill. Afterall, motherhood itself revolves around caring for another (or a few) human being(s). It is a huge responsibility and sometimes, you could pretty much make or break a little human being's life.
I have a problem though. I have a problem that most of us mums already suffer from different extents of mother's guilt yet there is always that never ending external source of guilt being piled on us. Many times, it can come from people who are not mothers and who think they can understand but never actually do.
I have been there and done that. I have been that single person casting a judgemental glance and a silent tsk at that mother in the supermarket with the noisy, tantrum-throwing kid. Why can't the hell she keep her child quiet? Been there, done that. So I can't say I'm angry with these people nor am I offended. As I said, it's usually done in goodwill anyway.
Being one of the first of my friends to be pregnant, I had so many people ask me if I have started you know, pregnancy education for the baby growing in my womb.
I'm certainly not making fun of the dedicated pregnant mothers who do. Who make the effort to listen to Mozart, or talk to their growing foetuses regularly. Again, I have been there, done that in the sense that I was that single person who imagined myself being that perfect, perfect mother.
However, people don't seem to realise that in real life, perfect scenarios rarely happen.
When I was pregnant, I barely survived. As I mentioned, my weight fell below 38kg. For a pregnant woman, it was dangerous. I spewed 4 times a day. Some days, I ate one biscuit for the entire day. I felt sick all the time; I was always lying on the couch trying not to spew, I was always running to the office bathroom retching. I would take one bite of a quickly-thrown-together dinner and run off to spew, often worrying my 6 year old daughter.
Once, I drove myself to the hospital and had 3 doctors and a couple of nurses stare at me: How did you get yourself here? Your blood pressure is so low below normal that we are shocked you are even standing up. I had to stay in hospital for the day for needles and all and then insisted on leaving so I could go pick up my 6 year old.
There, my very perfect pregnancy.
I barely survived myself, barely made it through, barely looked after a husband and a child... yet again and again I was made to feel guilty about not doing all the fancy stuff during my pregnancy.
See, I wouldn't mind a casual question: "Do you do pregnancy yoga and all that education stuff?" and being left alone when I said no and explained. However, it irked me beyond belief when after I said no, I got the look of disgust: "WHAT? Don't you know you should do that because it will help the baby be smarter? Don't you know you should do that so that the baby will yada yada yada..."
Well, don't you know I need to keep myself alive so the baby can be alive? I'm barely alive, mate! Look at my skin and bones!
Post-pregnancy, I still face the same thing.
The fantasy of the perfect motherhood haunts me constantly. Sometimes, it stems from myself. But really, most times, it stems from others.
Apparently, the perfect motherhood entails that your number one priority and focus should always be your children. The truth is, I too have the perfect motherhood all worked out in my head.
Perfect motherhood timetable:
Play with your child. Take your child to the park. Teach your child. Read your child books. Listen to music with your child. Constantly talk to your child and nurture them. Yes, even when they are sleeping, you should be whispering lullabies in their ears. When they are eating, you should be sitting next to them describing the different foods that they are eating so you know, they are learning all the damn time. When they are quietly watching tv, no you cannot leave them alone, you really should be sitting beside them every minute giving an additional commentary so you know, they can always be learning extra information. Talk, play, sing, dance with your child. Perfect motherhood.
Unfortunately...yet again, some people don't realise that in real life that rarely happens.
Sometimes, you need to let you child watch some tv because hey, lunch and dinner isn't going to cook itself while you focus entirely on your child all day. Piled up laundry isn't going to wash itself while you are whispering lullabies to an already asleep baby. And those baby commercials are fake because babies don't actually even sit still when you try to read to them. At least mine don't. My reading sessions last less than 3 minutes before my toddler snatches it off me and wants to do something else.
Ladies and gents, the truth is I try my best to juggle it all. And I don't think I am doing a bad job at all.
I do reasonably. But I'm sorry, while I do read with the kids and say a quick prayer with them, I do not gaze for hours upon their lovely peaceful countenances while they sleep and continue to whisper lullabies. Sorry, no, while they sleep, I quickly scoot off to do the other dozens of household chores awaiting me #truth. Sure, there are nights I linger a little longer to have little short chats and so on but if you expect me to do that every night, maybe you can do the dozens other tasks for me.
[I have to pause here to say that I am really not mocking the dedicated mothers who actually do all these (pardon the sarcastic tone that is really addressed to certain ones). I know a mum who has wanted kids for the longest time and she just loves her child so much that she talks/sings/plays with him/her all the time. Well, good on her I say! I just think that no 2 situations are the same; to each his own; there needs to be some understanding and empathy instead of expecting all mothers in their different situations to conform to one notion of a perfect motherhood]
This morning...I had to drive my husband's ute (which I drive fairly well now but am still stressed out by having to operate a vehicle so much bigger than I am used to)... I had to take the 2 dogs to the vet plus take my 2 kids along all by myself.
Again, the perfect motherhood routine would entail that the simple enough errand is all done in a short matter of 20 minutes. Then, I'll come home, teach my kids, sing with them, dance with them, take them to the park, draw with them, colour with them,, play in the yard with them etc etc etc.
However, in real life, that doesn't actually happen because it took me 40 minutes just to get 2 kids and myself ready. This includes time taken to soothe a sick baby, feed her medicine, wrestle her as I try to brush her hair... then oh Ally has to go to the toilet just as we step out the door.. then I had to get the 2 dogs on the ute... FFS, where are the dog leashes?
Yes, even breakfast isn't actually breakfast!
The vet visit took over an hour because we had to wait and while waiting, I got to sit down in peace, listen to music and read a couple of magazines.
I had to constantly reign in 2 dogs who were on edge about being at the vet, I had to deal with a crying screaming baby, I had to deal with a child with a tummyache... and FFS, where did I put my keys and purse?
By the time I am home now at 1030am, pardon me if I have had everything drained out of me. Every damn ounce of energy.
I am so tired by that 2-hour long ordeal that I am almost prepared to just lay in bed for the rest of the day, although that will not happen as I have to cook lunch and take the baby to the doctor again, clean up the mess of yoghurt, feed the dogs etc etc.
I am sure many mums are so familiar with this whole disarray and pandemonium. (And I only have 2 kids. Mums who have multiples, respect to you all!)
I think people, especially people who don't have kids, need to let up a little.
It's ok, I am not angry, I have been there imagining myself peacefully and confidently settled in the routine of perfect motherhood.
See, I do want to be that perfect mum who does everything and anything for her kids. Who puts them first and spends every living minute with them.
But I can't. Because when I try to, I fail.
Because in real life, there is a lot more to the equation than we wish.
I am not making motherhood out to be the most terrible chore. I try to juggle it all and enjoy it as I go along. I enjoy my routine with my kids. I enjoy my own balance between marriage, kids, self. But it is all far from perfection.
Now I am going to have a 5 minute shower which will be my only break for the next few hours before I go around ticking off errands for the day. I better not hear anyone say to me today: "So what do you do at home as a stay home mum? You just look after kids, don't you?"
Mother ranting with Essentially Jess for IBOT today!