Today was one of those days. You know the ones – where you are just go go go and seem to get nothing done. Where not yelling at the kids (again) seems like a huge achievement and by the time you get to sit down you feel so drained you just stare at the TV but forget to turn it on.
Usually at that point I decide it’s the perfect time to assess just how well I am going at this whole parenting thing, and often the verdict is pretty dire. I’m not the mother I thought I would be when I first looked at those two little lines five years ago, and chances are I never will be.
I know, I know, cue the violins.
Parenting is so very different to what we expect it to be while we are still on the ‘other side’. And for many of us (well, at least me) it is a huge shock once you finally arrive. I remember when my son had his first proper illness and thinking that no-one had told me just how hard some parts of this whole parenting caper are. And then I remembered they did tell me, except I thought they were just whinging. Yep, because I obviously had an ounce of an idea.
Now I’m three kids in and my life feels like a constant whirlwind of washing, “don’t hit your brother”s and apologising for the mess. And somewhere in there I am trying to be the ‘good mum’, the one who organises a craft activity and pushes the kids on the swing and doesn’t turn the television on. Where is the time to do everything? Where am I meant to get the energy? How do you stop the frustration?
Then comes the guilt that I’m not the mum my kids deserve, that I don’t measure up to other parents that I know. It seems the yardstick is constantly out and I’m always holding it up, hoping that it will show that I am doing okay but often there’s just something else I’m not doing ‘right’.
Maybe it’s time I threw the yard stick away.
At the end of the day, my best is all I can give my kids. I’m finally starting to accept that I am going to stuff up sometimes – as much as I want to have it all together it’s simply not going happen, at least not right now. There’s going to be mess and failed dinners and fighting kids and days when I want to tear my hair out. But that doesn’t make me a bad mum, it just makes me real. And when those days happen I need to be kind to myself.
Because no matter how hard I try I’m never going to be ‘that’ mum standing over there who looks like she’s got it all together. Who knows, maybe she’s looking over at me and thinking the same thing.
Besides, tomorrow’s another day.