This post might seem a little deep to some and hopefully it might help others.
As a mother to two little girls life is busy. Actually, that’s an understatement. Life is hectic and at times it is chaotic. Being a mother entails a lot of juggling, a lot of organisation. There are times (a lot of times) that I cannot see to the end of the washing basket, the fridge is empty immediately after it has been full. The children constantly need to be fed, changed, fed again, washed, played with, read to. I seem to never stop cooking and each bout of cooking leads to the inevitable and dreaded clean up. Once upon a time I loved to cook whereas now it is a means to an end. My husband is self-employed which means he has to work each and every possible moment . I am so lucky that he is a fantastic Dad and when he comes home will always give me a hand where he can despite recently taking on a new business which entails him spending nights away from us to make it work. He works so hard to provide for us. But it is hard and it can all take its toll. It is hard to fit in the time as a couple, to just chat and catch up on each others day. There are many times a week where when we have put the kids to bed, my husband has to get stuck right back into work and I will have to get back into the housework or just escape outside for a run because my head sure needs the fresh air and my body definitely needs the workout. Truth be told, if I didn’t include some sort of exercise into my week I would be an emotional mess. I am currently breastfeeding our our baby girl and some nights she might only waken once, other nights its 5 times. Exhaustion sets in and I get emotional. With a three year old and an 8 month old, each day is taken up just fulfilling their basic needs and no more. We don’t have a lot of family living close to us so we are pretty much doing it alone. If a family member does relieve us for a day it is usually to take one child until the other is brought for a routine check up, hospital appointment or just to spend some time with one child on their own. Because each child needs one on one time with their parents. Where one is supposed to pull out of thin air time for oneself for some needed down time and to practice good self care, I do not know. That thin air sure ain’t fruitful.
For the past few months I have been incredibly hard on myself. Hard on myself for everything. ‘Why is the house messy again?’…’Why didn’t I get up earlier to dry my hair this morning?'(while eyes falling out of my head with tiredness), ‘Why is the laundry basket full again?’. I never answer myself with the kind voice in which I should ‘because I am tired, I am running around all day with two small children, I am doing my best’. Worst of all, I was making the mistake of comparing myself to others. As mothers we all tend to do this. We compare ourselves to others and hone in on what they seem to do best. In this process we forget that they are in fact, someone else, with different circumstances, different resources, different backgrounds. We project their strengths and in the process tear ourselves down. ‘How is it that she can look good’, ‘her house is immaculate’, ‘she has amazing clothes’, ‘She never has a stack of ironing’ etc etc etc. By looking from the outside in we always seem to see in someone else a polished version of life. We hone in on aspects of their lives that seem so perfect from the outside. We make ourselves believe that others lead picture perfect lives.
It is easy to allow feelings of resentment for others to take over. Too easy. It is an easy way out to justify beating ourselves up ‘sure isn’t it well for her, she has a nanny’, ‘sure she has loads of help’,’sure she has a great life’. But where does resentment get us??? It makes us feel worse in ourselves. Allowing negativity in is not the answer, nobody feels the better of it. In fact cutting others some slack is really what we should be doing. There is a high possibility that person is looking at you and admiring something you do so well. If someone needs a nanny maybe they are not getting the time they really want with their kids. That someone who has a ‘great life’ would maybe give their right arm to not have to pull themselves out of bed at an outrageous hour and longs to spend the morning in their pjs with the kids. Not everyone will admit it but we are all struggling somewhere along the line. Cut yourself some lack and in turn cut others some slack. Nobody can have it all.
My eldest little girl Holly recently turned 3. Everyone tells you how quick your children’s childhood goes past and I couldn’t have found this more true. My first born, the little defenseless baby who I brought home three years ago with fear in my gut of ‘Will I do my best for her? What If I screw up? How can I protect her’, was 3. She was now able to dress herself for her party, decided which bow she would wear in her hair, which cake she would have. She could have anything. What was her request? ‘Mammy will everyone have fun at my party?’. She couldn’t wait. For her it wasn’t about the laundry, clean floors, dust free skirting board. The only thing she wished for her day was for everyone to have as much fun as she would have. She would remember the smiles and happiness on everyone’s face.
Yes we all want to look perfect, have the perfect pristine home, cook perfect meals, dress our kids in only the best while they play with smiles on their faces and not a hair out of place. Yes we want it all and we want it all now. We overlook the reality that we are all different people with different resources, with different needs. Yet, we all want to look like the supermodel with the envy worthy instagram feed with the perfect outfits, perfect house, ‘perfect life’ we want our houses to look like they were directly transferred from an interiors magazine to right under our own roof. We want our floors spotlessly clean, our windows to sparkle, our worktops to be clutter free YET we also want to hear our kids laughing and playing while somehow the playroom stays tidy.
We really put far too much pressure on ourselves. We look at an instagram post and think that it must be real life. We forget that real life doesn’t have a filter or an editing app. Real life is real life.
Also we forget that social media is only showing us snippets of life. Snippets of the good days. Bad days are rarely recorded or shown. A instagram post is not going to show the toddler running through the house unravelling the toilet roll after emptying the sock drawer all over the floor. Kids will be kids and they learn so much through investigation. Be proud of it.
We look at what is ‘perfect’ in every other mother, and fail to see what we are doing a good job at ourselves. We forget that it really is impossible to have it all. We need to look at this in another way.
The mother whose house is relentlessly clean is maybe sacrificing time playing with and nurturing her kids to perfect her home.
The Mom who is always dressed to perfection and looks like she walked out of a hair salon every morning is maybe got up at 6am sacrificing much needed sleep to do so.
That house you have always been envious of with the persistently tidy playroom – maybe that Mummy doesn’t give herself the down time she needs.
The house with the perfectly manicured lawns and rainbow symbolic floral bedding are maybe sacrificing time on perfecting them and don’t get the chance for outings with their smallies and are taken over with that guilt.
Our kids will never remember a perfectly clean floor or sparkling worktop. They won’t remember how many times a day you hoovered the floor .They will remember the laughs, the good times.The days where we let our hair down and let go of the things which seem important but really aren’t. They care about the time we spend with them. The greatest gift we can give them is our time. Don’t get me wrong, I love fashion, make-up, glamour etc and I do try to dedicate time for it into my life for me because I need it for me to still be me. But I have come a long way to realise our time here is short and we need to spend it wisely. If ‘the jobs’ don’t get done, what is the worst that can happen?’. My kids happiness are priority. I lost my own mother tragically when she was only 49, I was 26 and I still feel so robbed. My beautiful girls never got to meet her. She never got the chance to hold their pudgy little hands and kiss their tiny little feet. She never got to play with them and tell them stories about when she was a little girl. So I see the importance of filling my children’s head full of happy memories. I want them to always remember our laughs together, time playing together, making special memories as a family. If I am spending time beating myself up, its wasted time. Time I or they will never get back. This is something I try to remind myself every day. It’s not always easy but I have to.
There is no point getting worked up and worked out because of undone laundry. We mirror feelings to our children. Yes, it would be easy to fall down in defeat and resent others, be envious of what they have that we don’t. Resent is an extremely strong feeling with an ability to eat up so much of our positivity and this in turn consumes our time.
So let’s all go easy on ourselves.We can can only work with the resources we have at hand. Our best is all we can give. Comparing ourselves to others is unrealistic. Everyone else has their insecurities. Be kind to yourself and give yourself a pat on the back. Your doing a good job. And what is more is that you can open up to other mothers. You will be surprised to hear that they will be experiencing similar feelings. We can all support one another. Don’t forget to tell others they too are doing a good job.
And back to the outcome of Holly’s party. That night I was told Mammy we all had so much fun, can we all do it again tomorrow?!’ Mission accomoplished!!
Give yourself a break Mamas, your doing a great job.