Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Perfect mum

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.


  1. Hey, you're not a robot!! Mothers get tired and taken for granted and don't get any time off or much in the way of recognition for what they do!!! Don't be hard on yourself. In the past, I have rung DH up and asked him to come home so that I could clear off and have some peace and quiet. You try your hardest but often, that's not good enough and you run out of ideas as to why your baby isn't as happy and content as the ones in the magazines seem to be!! I love being a mum, but it's the hardest job I've done. I certainly haven't been reborn as that serene and forever patient mother either, but I do my best and that's all anybody can ask for. xxxx

  2. Thanks Pippa. It's good to hear you feel the same way sometimes! I think I do strive to 'get it right' too often. My hardest times are when I'm away from others, so the public mum and the private mum are very different! There are always things we could have done better, but usually it only takes a cuddle or sloppy kiss from your little one to make it better.

  3. Wonderful, I will be sharing this in next weeks sunday surf.
    I completely get what you are saying. I think motherhood is more of a constant search, a journey, than a sudden emergence. I get the same reactions you do, when my daughter starts whining, I just want to scream too. I really can't handle it most of the time. I do eventually deal with it without snapping, but it requires a great deal of self control, I have to get to the bottom of myself to get the calm back and not completely go beserk
    But I say to myself, at least I'm trying, at least I'm learning, I'm not standing still

  4. Motherhood is certainly the steepest learning curve I have ever experienced! I thin kit is important that we acknowledge to ourselves and to each other that we frequently get it wrong, but that's OK as long as we address it and keep trying to improve. That's a good lesson for our children to see us modelling too.