‘She’s smiling and her hair smells like ACTUAL shampoo’
Comparisons generally lead to feelings of inadequacy.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have wistfully looked into a cafe window and spied a mother enjoying a latte and perusing the latest copy of Grazia, with her sleeping babe in a pram beside her, whilst I scamper past covered in breakfast remnants and wrestling a bread stick from Winnie’s nostril for the millionth time.
‘How come her baby will sleep in its pram? What am I doing so wrong?!’
Social media plays a large part in others’ perceptions. Even on a terrible day when nothing is going right and you’re tackling your third dirty nappy of the day at 9am, you can simply log in, post a photograph of your smiling cherub and somehow scramble together a sense of euphoric tranquillity.
‘Yes! See! She’s smiling. I’m not failing. I’m. Not. Failing!‘
Yes, comparisons are usually based on appearance and seldom on fact.
I remember being in the city centre for the first time alone when Winnie began to grizzle. I hot-footed it to Mothercare to hide in their feeding room until the storm had passed, and clambered onto the bench next to a mother breastfeeding her six(ish) month old son. She was so calm. iPhone in one hand, Starbucks-to-go in the other and her baby gently propped up in between. Then there was me – both boobs were out; Winnie’s former grizzle was turning into more of a shout; my pram was almost tipping from the uneven distribution of carrier bags; my muslin was woefully slipping onto the floor; all whilst I frantically tried to get the Infacol open and pipette some onto her flailing tongue.
Starbucks Girl was a natural and I was a bumbling mess; exactly as I expected.
During pregnancy I battled constantly with feelings of inferiority (based entirely upon my own warped beliefs of what it took to be a mum).
“I can’t sew. I can’t cook a beef joint (without royally messing up the timings). I can’t empty the cylinder of the vacuum cleaner. I can’t iron a shirt. I can’t even remember to buy washing up liquid!” I would shout to my husband, “I’m never going to be a natural mother!”
It is only now, having experienced ten months in my new role, that the haze of self-doubt has lifted and I can see clearly.
‘It’s not about knowing why your baby is crying each and every time that makes you a natural mother; it’s doing everything in your power to figure it out that does’
So to anyone currently battling as to whether or not they’re cut out for this role please remember this:
When you arise after a night of hourly wake-ups and your eyes are burning, yet you smile and kiss your baby on the forehead – that makes you a good mother. When you go four days without washing your hair but make sure that your baby always gets a nightly bath – that makes you a good mother. When you eat a cold dinner after having spent 35 minutes doing aeroplane noises to ensure that your baby eats theirs- that makes you a good mother. When you cancel your one social plan that you’ve made in almost a year because your baby ‘hasn’t been quite right’- that makes you a good mother. It’s identifying the need for some time to yourself to ensure that you’re the very best you can be- that makes you a good mother.
Some days you might feel like Superwoman with an empty laundry basket and a healthy home-cooked meal for dinner, with the entire house blitzed from top to bottom; and some days you might stay in your pyjamas all day with your only victory being managing to brush your teeth and have a wee.
Well I say celebrate every triumph, every milestone and every goal and remember that to someone, somewhere, you’ll always be their Starbuck’s Girl.