Four years ago, heavily pregnant with Evelyn, I stood in my sisters house thanking her for the gorgeous baby shower she had just hosted for me. Every detail had been carefully considered, planned and executed and I was just in awe of the thought and effort that had gone into making the afternoon so special for me. I remember at the time, just weeks out from giving birth to my beautiful little girl, being SO petrified. Not only about the actual birth – the whole how will “this” get out of “that” conundrum – but also how ill-prepared I felt to become a mother and take on all the responsibilities that came with it.
As I was packing up to head home, my sister (who I should mention is a mother of three young boys, two of which are twins) handed me a piece of paper entitled the ‘Motherhood Mantra‘ and told me to read it when I had a moment to myself. Despite the fact that I was yet to officially become a mother, the passage was so meaningful to me and over the last four years I have referred to it on many occasions to assure myself I am doing okay.
The motherhood journey is a crazy one, and while each of our experiences are different, one thing I believe is common to all honest mothers is the regular feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, the often unfair comparisons we make between ourselves and other mothers or our children with other children, as well as the never-ending worry.
Motherhood, to me, feels like a constant balancing act, with very little balance, where I am constantly letting one ball drop to keep another in the air – I spent quality time with the girls today – but we have no clean washing. I am up to date with all my reports for work – but I haven’t had a proper conversation with my husband in a week. The house is clean – but my hair is (really) dirty! I could go on.
It’s at these times that I find myself referring to the Motherhood Mantra, in its now dog-eared and slightly worse for wear form. It reminds me that the perfection I am striving for is unattainable; that I am in fact doing a great job wading through the chaos; that my kids are happy and healthy and that I don’t need to be a perfect mum to be a pretty bloody good one.
The Motherhood Mantra
“Embrace the philosophy of being a ‘good enough’ mother as opposed to a ‘perfect’ mother (aka Superwoman).
Superwoman is that mythological mother who…’has a high-powered career, with a great partner and beautiful, happy children. She has time for herself, time to play with her children and time to help them with their homework. She also has time for romance with her partner. They all live happily in a tidy, well-managed home that doesn’t have junk piles in the fruit bowl on the kitchen bench! Who are they kidding?’ (1999, Lamble and Morris, page 6)
Superwoman does not exist, but a ‘good enough’ mother does. She takes a long-term view of motherhood. She does most things fairly well, most of the time.
‘Good enough’ does not mean ‘second best’. It just means that we try and do the best job we can, acknowledging that there will be (many) days where things will blow up or go pear-shaped. We don’t waste our time striving for perfection because it’s unattainable. Instead, we (dare I say it…) lower our expectations a little, try and relinquish control a little and try and increase our flexibility (i.e.we don’t expect to do everything and aren’t too proud to accept help if we need/want it).
Remember the golden rule: Happy Mum = Happy Baby.
Leave superwoman where she belongs; in the movies!’