Wednesday, 8 September 2010
Before I had Alice, I imagined that birth was a transforming process. I would emerge from it like a butterfly from a chrysalis, purged of any shred of selfish thoughts, entirely focussed on the new life I had brought into this world. I would have made an irreversible transition into motherhood.
In some ways this was true. I am different, and birth itself is a life-changing experience. I will always have another person's welfare to value above my own, but the embodiment of unselfishness and maternal feeling I am not. It has come as quite a surprise.
Mothers are held up in most societies for their ungrudging and generous natures. Colicky babies and toddler tantrums are dealt with graciously by this image of the ideal maternal figure. That is what I wanted to be, but I am not her. It came as a shock to realise that sometimes I take the behaviour of my tiny child personally. My rational mind is telling me that she has no concept of how her behaviour affects others, but I can't help feeling cross, and frustrated. I feel like having a tantrum of my own. Quite often, I am selfish. There are times when what Alice needs more than anything is gentle words and cuddles, but sometimes I just want to get away. At these times I am so grateful for my husband, and so in awe of parents who weather the hard times on their own. I simply do not have the ability to be a great mummy all the time.
The title of this blog is something I repeat to myself often. I am trying to be good enough, not perfect. If it gets too much, as it has been quite a lot recently, I am trying to allow myself the time to recharge my energy, give myself a break and try to lower my expectations of myself a little. We all have off days, even when we are mothers.