If we’re being honest…
I’m an imperfect mom. How do I know this? Well, I’ve never:
- Given sweets and a self-effacing note to fellow plane travellers in case my kid screams all the way to our destination
- Sent her to school with a note in her lunchbox or a sandwich cut in the shape of the Gruffalo, complete with prickles
- Made a birthday cake by hand, myself, complete with little fondant replicas of all of the characters in Toy Story (1, 2 and 3)
- Consumed (all or some of) my placenta, in any form whatsoever
- Used a re-usable nappy
- Encouraged co-sleeping
- Remembered to label every single item of playschool clothing, as instructed by the teacher, despite sending my daughter to school in exactly the same pink Crocs as every single little girl in her class
- Managed to wean her off her manky, flea-bitten series of beloved dummies
Whew! That feels so good. I feel lighter somehow.
And what’s wrong with thoughtful notes, home-made cakes and co-sleeping?
Well, nothing. I’m not going to snottily inform you that I’m too busy or too focused on bread-winning to do all of these lovely things; I’m going to be completely honest here: I couldn’t be bothered. Or, in some cases, perfect mom-ness doesn’t work for me.
I had severe post-natal depression for three months post-childbirth and since then, my priority has been keeping things simple. Trying not to over-do it. Watching how much we commit to. And PND was a kind of blessing – it’s given me perspective.
This means that, if you offer me a choice between going to gym or baking, I’ll take gym. Cuddling all night long or sleeping well? Sleeping. Screaming or the dummy? The dummy. I’m a better mom to my littlie when I’m exercised, rested and calm.
Taking a guilt trip
But I’m also trying to stave off the guilt that plagues all moms. You know, the creeping feeling that we’re not good enough, not trying enough, not doing enough?
Like, the fact that, if you offer me a choice between quality time spent chatting with, reading to, walking alongside, drawing for, or even just sitting next to my daughter, and pretty much anything else on offer, I’ll (mostly) choose the former. No question.
For me, those are the investments. And I’m 100% committed to certain small-but-important things. Manners. Sunblock. Veggies. Kindness to animals. Good books.
Picking my battles
My mom was different.
She created masterpiece school lunches. Helped with award-winning projects. Used a dictionary to write ‘I love you’ in Hebrew on a note that she put into my schoolbag on my 10th birthday (she speaks not one word of Hebrew). Organised the most unbelievable birthday parties. Wrapped schoolbooks like a professional with OCD.
On the other hand, she wasn’t a Library Mom, a Tuckshop Mom or a PTA Mom, and she set foot on my high school campus for the first time at my Matric valedictory evening. She was a single working mom, and she invested her time carefully.
So when I began my mothering journey, I decided I’d be like her in involvement, love and support, but like me (the pre-baby, self-ish, workaholic, grooming-obsessed me) in certain other ways, and that I’d do what works for me – and for us as a family.
Isn’t parenting hard enough, without trying to be a Stepford mom? What do you think? What makes you ‘perfect’ or ‘imperfect’? Out with it. (No judgies.)