Do you know what really, really winds me up about motherhood? The other mothers who want to tell you that you’re not as good as them because you’re doing things differently. The women who never struggled with breastfeeding and want you to know that your child is going to suffer forever for your failure. The mothers whose unassisted home births were the epitome of wondrous perfection, while your “fearful”, “clinical” [fucking painful] birth experience was “unnatural”. The fact that there’s always somebody somewhere, sitting on a soapbox and waiting to tell you that everything you are doing for your children is WRONG.
It must be wonderful to be perfect, to never lose your shit with your kids for crayoning on the wall AGAIN or upending the cat food all over the floor for the gazillionth time or having a screaming tantrum over fucking breakfast cereal every sodding morning. But you know what? I’m okay with my imperfect children and my imperfect life. My kids weren’t EBF for the first six months of their lives and they weren’t weaned on organic spinach and minted pea purée. I did the best I could, and I really doubt that they’ll grow up to be serial killers or those really annoying people who get “you’re” and “your” mixed up all the time.
These mothers are all over the place, and while they present the Earth Mother facade, they can be alarmingly hostile if you don’t share their ideology. We get it; you gave birth to your child in a summer meadow beside a babbling brook while the birds in the trees around you sang an ode to your greatness. That’s lovely for you. And you’re going to breastfeed your offspring until they start school and maybe even beyond. I’m happy for you. I really, really am. But you don’t speak for me. You don’t get to tell me how I should have experienced birth or the “right” way to raise my children.
What I’d love to know is what qualifies these women (and I’m sorry to say this, but it’s usually women) to judge anyone else on anything they do. Is it because they want everyone else to feel inferior to them? To want to be them? To feel like, by comparison, they will never, ever be good enough? Is it because – and I’m going to say this really quietly because I think it’s supposed to be a secret… but could it possibly be that they’re just a teeny, tiny bit insecure?
These are the women who never post a blog or a tweet about their shit day/week/month. They never admit to yelling at their kids or bingeing on chocolate or using CBeebies as bribery. They only ever tell us about the things that make us feel small and crappy. And while I don’t actually believe that ownership of a uterus creates any kind of “sisterhood” or whatever, it really wouldn’t hurt for us to be supportive of one another, especially during the shitty times. Because I don’t know about you, but when I’m sitting on the sofa at 8pm, staring vacantly at the wall and wondering why my three year-old occasionally very closely resembles a gnome with bi-polar disorder, the last thing I need to see is a tweet from a woman who wants to tell me that I’m fucking up his life in one way or another. Guess what? I didn’t ask for your opinion.
I’ve said this before and I will say it again; this is hard. It’s hard trying to figure out what the right thing for your children is when there’s so much conflicting advice out there. It’s hard trying to be patient when you’ve had a rubbish day and you’re tired or battling with a stress headache. It’s really fucking hard to not feel like an absolute failure when something goes wrong, whether it’s a small thing like an upside down bowl of purée on the carpet (which can often feel like the biggest thing in the world), or something fundamentally important to you like deciding it’s time to stop breastfeeding. Having someone point out the flaws in your parenting doesn’t make it any easier; it just makes the harder days even harder.
So, I’m just going to say this, from one struggling, imperfect mother to another; all you can do is your best, and that is enough for your children. Please, please don’t let anybody make you feel like it isn’t.
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