When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had visions of the kind of mum I was going to be. I was going to be patient, kind, never lose my temper and calmly deal with whatever babyhood and toddlerhood threw me.
It turns out, that some days I’m none of those things. Some days I want to tear my hair out I’m so frustrated. I’ve yelled, I’ve cried, I’ve thrown things (not in the direction of my daughter mind you!), I’ve had to step outside for a breath of fresh air. Being a mum is HARD.
You see, being a mum doesn’t come naturally to me. I always thought it would, that when my child was born I would know exactly what I needed to be. That I would embody what it is to be a good mum.
The thing is, I’ve never been one of those people who loves kids. I didn’t do much babysitting as a teenager, and my brother was only two years younger than me. So I didn’t have much exposure to babies before my daughter was born, besides a couple of friends’ babies. I could probably count on one hand how many babies I had held in my life before my daughter came along.
I’ve been comparing myself against an impossible standard
Recently during a conversation with my own mum, I realised something pretty massive. I’ve been making the mistake I never wanted to make. I’ve been comparing myself to an idea, a concept of what a “good mum” is. The good mum that I see all over my Facebook feed, my Instagram feed and my Tiktok. The mum who presents this face of perfection, who knows how to deal when their kid is throwing a massive wobbly in a cafe or the supermarket. Who can calmly “lean in” and deal with their child losing their shit in public.
Never in our lives are we so bombarded with information on how to do a job “well” than in motherhood. Before becoming a mother, I never thought that there were things I wasn’t good at. Of course there ARE things I’m not good at, like painting, drawing and anything vaguely artistic besides writing. But I didn’t have it shoved in my face every second post on Facebook.
Today I did an experiment - I counted how many posts about parenting I saw in my newsfeed in 5 minutes of scrolling. 28. I kid you not, 28 posts! And of those posts, over half of them were centred around mistakes parents make, things you’re probably doing that are wrecking your child for life, that sort of thing.
How is this productive? How does this help mums like me for whom motherhood doesn’t come naturally? It just doesn’t and it’s so damaging. So if you’re reading this right now, and you feel like some days motherhood doesn’t come naturally for you - you are not alone! I’m right here with you, walking alongside you, struggling with the same things you are.
Placing more importance on learning than comparing
I think the solution is to focus on learning.Every day I feel like I’m learning, digging deeper into what it means to be a mum. I’m learning to take deep breaths when I really want to shout. I’m learning to control my temper, because the beautiful little human in front of me isn’t trying to make me angry. She’s just being a toddler, and she needs the space to do that.
I need to give myself the space to grow into my role as mum. I need to practice, over and over again when it comes to dealing with behaviours that trigger me. I need to understand what triggers these behaviours in my daughter and try and mitigate those situations.
Because when motherhood doesn’t come naturally, practice makes perfect. Even a person with no artistic skill can learn to paint with enough practice. It’s about consistency, showing up and making the effort to learn. Focusing on what works and what doesn’t. Taking feedback on board and adjusting things.
Even better, let’s drop this notion of perfection. Let’s be perfectly imperfect. Learning and growing alongside our children, letting them see that we’re on this journey figuring this out together. Let’s apologise to our children when we lose control for a moment and yell at them because they smeared blue icing all over the couch. Let’s take them on this journey with us, and share with them that we’re learning how to become their mummy too. Because for some of us, we are still learning.