When you need support….
Sometimes it’s great to be alone but at other times we need support from others. It’s our natural instinct to share experiences, but sometimes we’re reluctant to share our doubts and disasters with others because we’re frightened of being judged. And it can be difficult to find like-minded souls as we grow older.
We’re surrounded by these so called supermums– they’re at the school gate where they just seem to have walked out of a beauty salon with perfect hair and manicured nails, full make up and with equally well-pressed children. They look you up and down as if you’ve just got out of bed, which you probably have and if you’re really unlucky you might even have your skirt tucked into your knicker. Or, you’ve forgotten to brush your hair and one of your kids has what looks like a streak of egg down the front of their uniform from breakfast and is whinging because they’ve forgotten their gym kit. And at that moment you think that you might as well be wearing a t-shirt that says bad mother on the back.
Yes, those supermums are everywhere, even in the supermarket looking equally as glamorous with a trolley full of organic food and absolutely none of the 5 c’s (chocolate, cake, crisps, cola and chips). And of course that’s probably on your busiest night and you’ve got a bashed up frozen pizza in your trolley and bag of oven chips and your kid is trailing behind you with a half eaten chocolate bar in one hand and the rest smeared all over his face because that chocolate bar was the only way you could bribe him to stop crying as you went round the supermarket trying to focus on your shop. I’m exaggerating but you get the picture.
So, what’s really refreshing is to find other mums that can be honest and just admit that they feel like crap because they’ve had hardly any sleep as little Ellie wet the bed again in the middle of the night, and the cat was sick on the living-room carpet and then the steam cleaner leaked as they were trying to remove the stain and they now have an even larger stain on the carpet.
When I was teaching and my kids were small, I was lucky enough to have two colleagues whose children were the same age. We would meet up at the coffee machines first thing in the morning before school started (that was the peak of my caffeinated days) and for ten minutes we’d chat honestly about our kids and admit that we felt like terrible mums because we : didn’t understand question 3 of the homework, had forgotten to bring a kitchen roll for art. Sometimes drastic things had happened – asthma attacks involving midnight runs to A and E. Near death experiences as one of our kids ran out in front of a car and the same child (bless her) pushing a hairpin into a socket the minute we’d walked into our new house and before having a chance to unpack our socket safety covers, because after her brother warned her she wanted to see what would happen! Luckily the electric tripped and she was okay. By comparing our catastrophes and insecurities and domestic disasters we all felt great – we’d offloaded our problems and realised that other people felt the same and were going through the same thing. And off we went to face the day with a spring in our step. That’s so important as a mum. We do need reminding that we ALL have these experiences, no matter how glamorous and put together we seem on the outside. Even the supermums. So, give yourself a break! Treat yourself with compassion.
Equally, it’s important to distance yourself from those mums who make you feel uncomfortable. Be mindful of your emotions. If people are overly critical of you, constantly saying how wonderful their child is but never asking about yours, then it’s probably time to move on and find someone who is on the same level. There’s only so many times you can listen to how toddler Jack can already recognise 20 key words and all the letters of the alphabet. Your child is going at their own pace. Trust yourself and enjoy the moment. Be open and honest with a good sense of humour and you’ll be surprised who opens up to you.
Take care for now,