Sometimes, I wish I could wear a badge saying, “Hello! Lovely to meet you. My name is Olivia and I am an imperfect mum.” I would wear this badge to all places where I might meet other imperfect mums: baby groups, sensory play, cafés, church, soft play etc. The list is probably quite endless.
As I wear this badge, I would find the conversations around me different. Perhaps instead of ever so slightly competitive chatter about where our children are on the development milestone scale, I would start to hear more honest conversations. The kind of conversations that deep, lasting friendships are built on. Conversations that are honest and don’t sell an image of motherhood as unachievable as unicorns and rainbows.
Perhaps I would sit with a group of mums I’ve never met before, and one might speak openly and daringly about how they are struggling with their thoughts and emotions. They might say, “Oh I’m so glad that you feel the same way as I do. I LOVE my child, but I am so tired. I feel broken. I wonder if I’m good enough.”
Or they might comment, “I feel confused. Yes, I love my child, but am I being selfish if I want to go out on my own every now and again? Does that make me a bad mum?”
They may even say, “I hate being a mum right now. I don’t know what I’m doing, and I wonder if I’ll ever feel ‘good’ again.”
These are hard things to talk about, especially if we consider that:
- Most of us mums have only known each other as long as our child’s life span… we can feel like relative strangers;
- We are British, and have stiffer up lips that don’t talk about feelings and emotions.
But with these honest conversations, the façade of perfection can be wiped away, much like makeup the morning after the night before. It may have to be scrubbed off, depending on how much of an image we have put on, but it will come off if we wipe hard enough.
Motherhood is hard, and tiring. Sure, there is great joy in having a child, but that doesn’t mean you have to love being a mum all of the time. Yes, you can love your child, and yet struggle with the lack of independence suddenly thrust upon you. You can even wonder if you made a mistake having a baby… that doesn’t mean you’re a bad mum. It means you’re a normal human being, struggling with a complex mix of emotions, hormones, sleep deprivation and an enormous life altering shift of lifestyle that no one and nothing can ever prepare you for.
None of us are perfect. We all have failings and feelings; we all struggle with things from time to time, so why are we putting up a front? Let’s embrace our imperfections, our vulnerabilities; they can make us strong. We can be strong together.
Stronger friendships we can rely on.
Stronger minds that know imperfection isn’t just normal, it’s expected, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.
Stronger mums who live honestly with the people around them.
Let’s start a new conversation…
“Hello! Lovely to meet you. My name’s Olivia, and I’m an imperfect mum.”