I’m the first one to admit I had my own little vision of motherhood, it was all white linen trousers and checked picnic blankets on the lawn.
Sadly I was wrong, on so many things. I mean, for crying out loud, WHITE LINEN TROUSERS? I might as well just wear a sign telling people to wipe their noses on me.
Okay, so I knew I was probably being a little bit naïve, I knew that it would be harder than I thought. Just not this hard. It’s not the day-to-day relentlessness that can wear you down, nor the grossness, or sheer exhaustion – although obviously they’re not fun.
No, what gets you down is the fact that you aren’t welcomed into a new gang of support and laughter. Quite the opposite in fact, because due to the media (social and the actual media) motherhood is rather judgemental and competitive these days.
To begin with it got me down. I’d spend a lot of my time worried by the fact that I wasn’t doing things how others thought I should do them, that I wasn’t good enough. But then I realised, that makes life pretty shitty.
So instead of viewing motherhood as a job where I’m constantly under assessment, and most likely on a performance improvement plan, I’ve decided to treat motherhood as a version of the Olympic games.
You can’t win every event, so pick your best and be proud, and with the others, give them a bash, but don’t let it get you down. Oh, and if others aren’t that good at your event, don’t judge them, because their skills obviously lie elsewhere. Innit.
With that in mind, I have taken a step back, picking and choosing my events carefully.
Event 1: World Book Day
For example, I have come to terms with the fact that I am never going to get near the podium when it comes to crafts and costumes. World Book Day? Thank God for the slightly battered Harry Potter costume and Mr Sainsbogs for Dennis the Menace. I can’t even do face painting, and so Dennis’s eyebrows were using the very last of my Benefit Bad Gal eyeliner. THAT’S HOW MUCH I LOVE HIM!
I don’t look at the gold medal winner with resentment though. I look at her with respect. I’ll never know how the hell she thought about Aliens Love Underpants, and am a little bit in awe that she managed to construct the costume without sticking her fingers to a piece of felt, or worse, to each other.
Event 2: Homework
At one point I wasn’t going to win any medals when it came to helping with homework either, but since I invented the snack-quiz method, I reckon I could scrape a gold. I know some parents spend hours being creative with homework, they work so hard on it, but sadly my patience is about as minimal as my time is. Because I refuse to do homework at the weekends (perhaps another post altogether) our slot is basically 40 minutes on a Wednesday between getting home from school, and dinner before football. Therefore I sit with a bowl of popcorn, cheese and breadsticks, and when they answer a homework related question right, they get a snack chucked at them while I cook tea. I AM ON FIRE.
Event 3: Being there when you’re needed
I’m not outdoorsy, I don’t even get shortlisted when it comes to imaginative play, but I reckon I’d make the podium for the time and effort I put into everything they do. I’m lucky enough to have a lot of flexibility when it comes to work, which means I can always be there, whether it’s sports day, the opening of the new nursery garden, or a swimming badge. They know that mummy will always be there, and daddy will always be at work. Not all mummies have this flexibility. Not all mummies can drop what they’re doing and come back to it when the kids are in bed, and for that I don’t look on and roll my eyes. They’re working, they’re making a living, and we all know there is still an awful lot of work to be done when it comes to businesses being flexible with families.
Event 4: I Can Cook!
Baking with the kids kills me. ACTUALLY CAUSES HYPERVENTILATION. I try, I really, really try. But I don’t enjoy it, and I think they can probably tell. In fact, when we made ninja turtle cakes, and toffee the other week. I think I pretty much got pulled from the event when the toffee tasted like oil, and the turtles looked like they’d had a stroke. But maybe I would get an honourable mention for my weekend breakfast-making skills. I mean, who else can make three different types of eggs, crumpets, toasts, bacon and pancakes all in one go? Oh ok, most mums who are reading this.
Event 5: Keeping your cool
I’m crap at hiding my frustration at home, but I like to think that often, in public when all I want to do is lie on the floor and cry, I am outwardly calm. Totally chilled with the fact my son has just asked a man if he’s in his wheelchair because he was “pissing around on the stairs instead of being sensible.”
My long-winded point is… we can’t be good at everything in life, so why do we expect ourselves to be good at every aspect of motherhood? I don’t give a toss if in real life you can run 10k or that you’re a mathematical genius, and I doubt you give a toss that I can tell you what gin I’m drinking with just one sip. So let’s use that life skill when it comes to motherhood.
As my mum would say, ‘we’re all just swans who appear to be floating serenely along the surface, when really we’re paddling just to keep our heads above water’. Or as one of my favourite mum friends says ‘we all shit in the same parenting bowl, we just do it at different times of the day.’
We’re all class.
About Aimee Horton
Aimee never remembers her age. Not because she is in denial, she just appears to be physically incapable of doing so. It’s her birthday on Friday 18th March though (JUST SAYING). She’s an author who does a bit of branding on the side, and lives with her husband and two children in Lincoln. When Aimee isn’t working all hours God sends, she likes to drink gin, cook, and run.
Image credit: Aimee Horton