mother and son

The Pressure of Perfect Parenting

mother and son
My son and I-I’m a mother- not perfect, just me.

If there wasn’t enough anxiety-filled pressure when you’re pregnant (big bump, little bump, too much weight, not enough) once you pop that baby out or have him airlifted as I did twice, first an emergency, second an elective (the latter a whole other set of pressures, of which I ignored wholeheartedly) you are quickly, at least with first baby anointed with parenting pressures.

Literally from the minute you’re out the hospital door, barely able to walk, dazed and confused, babe in arms…to breastfeed, not to breastfeed, where baby sleeps, does it even sleep enough, working mum, stay at home mum….. Argh! Enough already.

I read an interesting post yesterday by brilliant blogger and friend Metropolitan Mum Balcony Moments. Or: Please Keep that Guilt to Yourself who appealed for Mums to get honest with each other. I’ve said this since my first child-why are we putting so much pressure on ourselves and each other? Why aren’t we a little kinder?

Metropolitan Mum questions why in the midst of ‘balcony moments’ (essentially wanting to throw yourself off one when it all gets too much usually in the middle of the night when we’ve tried everything) other women remark how lucky we are to have kids, even at desperate, heart-wrenchingly hard times.

Yes we are lucky to have reproduced, yes having kids is the most rewarding (but challenging) life event and I’ve never felt love like it (I’m besotted with those boys) and there are many, many moments of pure bliss (like my baby singing himself to sleep) and my 4 year old telling me he loves me more than Buzz Lightyear (high five) but a lot of the time is draining, tiring, relentless and often filled with guilt inadequacy and overwhelming responsibility.

Yes it’s worth it (because when it’s great, it’s amazing) but sometimes, sometimes it doesn’t feel it. Like when your baby has colic and has cried for 6 hours straight or you’ve not slept for 4 months or 4 years in some cases.

In the depths of this sleep deprived mess that is often motherhood perhaps we simply can’t admit how hard it is because we’re trying to survive day by day and pretending all is fine somehow makes it a little bit more bearable. “It IS wonderful this baby lark isn’t it-who needs to sleep or rest or feel normal, right?”…

Maybe if we got real more, opened our minds, stopped competing and started supporting more (me included) maybe those in despair (all of us) would feel better…I was sick of hearing about babies sleeping through from day 1 from competitive new mum friends when I had my first child Oliver, what’s happened to feminism and the sisterhood?

I’ve found support from my folks (who are my childcare lifeline) and husband and being online has helped a lot too, thank goodness for twitter and other bloggers.

Additionally more of my oldest friends have had kids so there is far less pretending/showing off and what a relief that is too!

Having a second child was a real game changer for me too. I had a great birth then (traumatic first birth didn’t help) and was confident and content.

It’s not the same for everyone though.

And is the media simply perpetuating these pressures?…

zoe buckman

Zoe Buckman (©The Glow)

The Times featured new site/blog The Glow brainchild (excuse the pun) of fashion experts Violet Gaynor and Kelly Stuart who met at…for mothers, fashionistas, admirers of stunning soft focus mother and baby in Manhattan apartment style shots, affluent mothers of pristine babies in every post..and it’s a beauty to behold. Really. But it’s not a reality.

If only life were like this. Every. Single. Day. With the budget of the mothers featured to boot. Personal chefs, round the clock nannies, assistants…oh yes, I’m sure this would make a huge difference.

I say all this as a woman who enjoys looking glamorous, who uses red lipstick and faux fur leopard print coats as an armour (to feel good and fight the signs of little sleep) and who enjoys style and beauty.

It doesn’t mean mothers shouldn’t look after themselves or stop looking stylish if they want (on the days they feel good about themselves any least). It shouldn’t be compulsory though nor competitive at the school gates yet it often feels that way.

Back to The Glow, I get it, it’s an escape, an aspirational place to visit, how motherhood is in your mind before you actually have kids (and if you’ve married David Schwimmer like Zoe Buckman featured)-the fairytale and we all need escapism in our lives.

All I’m asking is however many aspirational mother-loving ideals we subscribe to, that we’re honest with one another and maybe then perhaps we’ll start feeling better about ourselves and what it means to be a mother today, juggling everything we do and trying our best. Simply trying our very best. Despite it all.

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