It’s wonderful to welcome Pearl and her uplifting post.
‘Motherhood is hard sometimes, especially when other women seem so much better at it than you’.
Have you ever felt this way? Don’t worry, I have too.
From the gangly teenage years, to the gym-going university days, and now into motherhood*, why must we compare ourselves throughout the stages of our lives? And most importantly, how do we move past this barrier?
The word barrier seems fitting, because that is exactly what comparison builds: a big bugger-off cement wall, layered in woodchip wallpaper (if you’ve ever had to scrape it you will KNOW its strength!). This wall is what stands between us and understanding, empathy, and throw-your-head-back-and-belly-laugh friendship.
Let’s be honest here. Most of us have experienced that peculiar phenomenon when you find out that someone you had pre-judged is actually nothing like the label you had assigned them. It’s weird, right?
Often the seemingly perfect mothers turn out to be the ones accidentally putting their laundry in the fridge and relying all too heavily upon baby wipes for their own personal hygiene (guilty).
Most of the time, we are just guessing. Let’s imagine mums at the school gates, if you will:
Jeanette is envious of Lucy because of her annoyingly pert bottom. Lucy idolises Jeanette because of the way her children seem to respect her. Poppy is having troubles at home and therefore lacks the confidence to speak up in front of the outgoing Samantha, who seems a social butterfly but in reality feels very alone. Fran (a marathon runner) ashamedly parks her 1997 crumb-filled Toyota around the corner in fear of judgment from Poppy (who actually HATES her own Range Rover but feels obliged to drive it, it was a parting gift from her father.). Finally we have Celeste (seeking a running buddy) who pretends not to notice the mums on her way to work, silently mourning her own infertility.
…All these women have vulnerabilities, heaps of them. Many of them share common ground, and some could become great friends. But they will never know if they don’t set their presumptions aside for long enough to stop and chat.
Groups and classes can be fantastic mediators. I remember slinking in to my prenatal yoga class for the first time: a perfect semicircle of burgeoning bellies in order of increasing size. Attached to these bellies were the radiant yoginis in chic maternity lycra, bouncing gently on multicolored yoga balls. Was I supposed to bring a ball? Oh MUST I expose my repulsive feet?!
The woman sat to my right was quiet and polite. We didn’t chat much, and I filled the voids in our conversation with self-doubt and imaginary information. One time I bravely opened conversation with “I feel like a f*****g walrus today, how about you!?”, only to immediately fill with regret, remembering that she was a churchgoer and that I had yet to hear her curse. I don’t remember her exact response now, but I know for sure that she smiled a warm, genuine grin.
As the weeks went on, we were encouraged by the instructor to discuss our pregnancies and the challenges we were facing. Soon it became common knowledge that NONE of us felt radiant, owned a yoga ball prior to the class, or thought much about our inflated feet. We all occasionally felt like wally walruses, for our own different reasons.
The ‘woman to my right’ is named Heather. She is now one of my dear friends. We met regularly during our first year of motherhood and now exercise together in the evenings whenever our busy schedules allow. She is nothing like I had originally imagined, and is also very accepting of me, despite my occasional trucker mouth. I am really lucky to have gotten to know her.
Heather (top left) and a few of the absolute gems I met through classes. Ah, Sisterhood.
So perhaps the next time you feel yourself looking at another woman and building a wall, just stop, dang it.
Resist the urge.
It’s no good for either of you, and is about as productive as trying to unlock the front door with the car keys (also guilty). Let’s bring out the wallpaper steamers, so to speak, and get to know each other instead of compare.
Say hello to another mum at the school gates today.
(*Motherhood: a woman’s relationship with mothering. Whether you are one, aren’t one, want to be one, can’t be one, or feel pressure to become one. It’s complicated, I know. There are others out there in a similar boat as you. FIND THEM. Drink wine. Belly laugh. J )
Miraculous Mums is a new project to celebrate everyday mothers: the neglected-to-wear-sunscreen-but-smothered-their-kids-with-it-ten-time mums, the mums who give their all to their children yet still, at times, doubt their own motherly aptitude.
Pearl (writer/failing toddler tamer) has started the blog to promote honest motherhood and spread kudos and kindness.
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