It always amazes me how one day of mothering can be so totally different to the next. One day you can be sailing on pleasant calm seas with the wind at your back, the next suddenly there’s a perfect storm of crap and you lose your rag at the slightest missing-sock-related mishap.
I always find myself gazing at other mums, some friends, some who I only see at playgrounds and never have any contact with, and yearn for their life. Their clothes are stylish, their nails appear mani-ed, their kids are feisty and normal (other people’s children usually specialise healthily in proving that we’re all in the same boat) but they deal with everything, tantrums, fussiness, stubbornness with sage aplomb. They pack well-prepared healthy snack boxes and extra emergency pairs of trackie bums in their Tiba & Marl changing bags, and their buggies appear well kept and without squeaky wheel idiosyncrasies or “FFS stupid effing buggy!” moments ever needed….There’s an awe, an envy, a jealousy, a level of “how does she DO that…?” going on behind my gaze as I wonder how and when I might ever reach that superior level of mum sorted-ness, and imagine their houses to be as Pinterest-worthy as I feel their life is, in that magic moment.
And then, I have a week like this week which offered me a new perspective on that Supermum assumption. Yesterday I feel like I had a pro-surfer mum day, riding a wave that just kept on giving and glided me back to shore without a wobble but with a smile on my face the whole time: entertained both my boys (summer holidays are upon us) without relying on back to back Peppa all day long. Made healthy pizza. From scratch, smuggling in loads of veggies into the sauce. Created games involving both boys together, and managed to deal with their brotherly scraps without raising my voice. Even incorporated Mr Tumble-worthy entertainment into doing some cleaning, put wash loads on, made the goddam bed and changed the bedclothes. I was truly On A Roll. I awarded myself several Mum badges of honour. Then today happened. Ah, today, what did I ever do to you? Took the boys to the train station to catch a train that was cancelled and replaced by a bus service. Decided to change day plans, take a different bus route to a totally different destination, only to miss the bus by seconds and have to wait 23 minutes for the next, that 23 minutes being crucial in the “feed children to prevent meltdown” window coinciding with Small 1’s sudden urgent need for a wee with no tree around (despite multiple repeated suggestions for a wee stop before we left). Buggy decided to go into shopping trolley mode and lose the control of one of its wheels. Small 2 perfected his squeal/scream technique to ensure that the bus ride was a pleasure and a joy from start to finish. Lost my bank card somewhere at the museum, which I discovered when I was bribing Small 1 out of a bad mood by attempting to buy ice-cream…
Yes, today was a bugger. If I had seen myself the other day, Wonder Woman surfer mum day, I would possibly have thought, wow that lady has this mothering thing sorted doesn’t she, I could take a leaf out of her book. But today? Today i would’ve been rather smugly feeling like my life looked militarily precise and smooth compared to the mum I was pityingly observing.
We judge ourselves so harshly, possibly pre-babydom, but definitely throughout this mum thing. We are constantly spinning every plate in our lives, with finesse and grace whether it feels like it or not. Ok sometimes maybe not grace, but gusto, certainly. Take one look at your kids – do they look happy and healthy most of the time? If the answer is yes then you’re doing a great job. Small 2 made me take stock (and a few deep breaths today) after I had lost my card and was beginning to lose my sh*t along with it. He said “oh well mummy it’s ok look at the sky!”. His calmness and poise made me want to hug him to me and give him a huge squeeze. It also made me realise the amount of tantrums I had buffered his volcanic eruptions and now it felt that he was doing the same to me – so I couldn’t help but feel proud that maybe, just maybe he was modelling my own behaviour when things were turbulent for him. And maybe my calm gets him out of those swirly rages in a way I had never quite empathised with before.
Today made me realise anew that we’re all fighting fires, some days are calm and (relatively) peaceful at the fire station so we can kick back and enjoy a cuppa until the next call out. And others it feels like flames are lapping perilously close constantly and nerves are as frayed as our old cut off jeans. But rather than envying a Supermum that I see in the playground I’ve made a pledge today to realise that we’re all bloomin Supermum, depending on the day, the angle, the prism viewed through. And it’s about time we stop flagellating ourselves and celebrate that fact.
it’s time to dust off your super cape, ditch the envy and judgement, and off we go…