We all do things differently. Whether we’re working Mamas, SAH Mamas, whether we’ve got one, two, or more children – Mumming is unique to you and your family. That’s hardly ground-breaking, I know! But I was speaking to a girlfriend recently (who by the way is a phenomenal Mum), and we were discussing our kids’ different personalities and trading stories on our ‘sensitive’ ones and how we can better manage them and make them more resilient.
Then she started putting herself down. Saying that based on the parenting book she was reading and the other parents she was talking to, she is clearly ‘over-parenting’ and ‘hovering’ over her child, and that this must be the reason her little one struggles to cope in certain situations. I gasped. I ranted. Then I felt so much ANGER. Not at my beautiful friend.
Anger that we feel pressure to label and intellectualise every little aspect of parenting to the point where we lose confidence in our own ability to make the best decisions, for fear of somehow getting it wrong.
‘Is my style of parenting moulding my child into a personality stereotype?’, ‘Are my parenting choices setting my kids up to fail later on in life?’
These are big questions. Important questions. But GEEEZ it’s hard to always have an answer. And seriously, short of wrapping your babes in a bubble there’s no other way to control every aspect of every thing that ever happens to them. What’s more you can drive yourself crazy with this type of constant self-criticism (I sure as hell do and it usually ends up with me feeling like the worst Mum to ever walk the planet!).
Yes, of course, there are times when crticial thinking is a good thing – but for now I’ve written a Mum Mantra of sorts, entitled The Mum I Am, as a reminder to myself that it is both the GOOD and the BAD bits of me that make me a Mum – and this is something I want to embrace. (You could write your own too, if you’re feeling my vibe on this?!):
The Mum I Am stays home with my kids, day-in and day-out
The Mum I Am yells at them way more than I should
The Mum I Am lies beside them every night until they fall asleep
The Mum I Am is riddled with anxiety every time I say goodbye
The Mum I Am quietly dreads the day they no longer need me
The Mum I Am has tired resting-bitchface 95 per cent of the time
The Mum I Am daydreams about the girl I used to be, and the things I wanted to achieve
The Mum I Am explodes with pride watching them play together (when they think I’m not looking)
The Mum I Am wants them to stay little forever on the good days; and desperately wishes the time away on the bad days
The Mum I Am loves them harder than I ever thought possible. And I cannot believe my luck that they are actually mine.
I may over-analyse, self-criticise and ‘compare and despair’ all too often, but this is The Mum I Am and I’m proud. And you should be proud of the Mum you are too. ‘Cos whether you’re wearing runners, flip-flops or off-the-runway pumps, NOBODY has walked in your shoes. And nobody has an answer for everything (but incidentally, if you come across someone who proves me wrong on this, send them my way, would you?).