Every month or so my Facebook goes a bit crazy with reposts of articles aimed at making mothers feel better for not being able to do it all. They usually make me feel a bit better about life, because even tho I don’t think I suffer too much from feeling inadequate compared to other mothers, I do like knowing that other people are going through the exact same struggles (or worse!).
I try not to waste much time on feeling inadequate, so after the last plethora of “feel good, Mum!” posts I sat around thinking of the activities I do with the children that make me look like a super mum or could at least make other mums feel like they’re not quite keeping up with the Porters. The main thing I got from this little exercise was that all the things that I manage to do with the kids, or in spite of the kids, are things that I am really passionate about. For example:
- there’s a lot of home cooking going on
- we go for many a nature walk
- lots of trips to festivals, museums, other points of interest (Tesco!)
- I’m as on top of the laundry as someone with no dryer & only one air rack can be
- I still do my embroidery (although not quite as much as before)
- I read a lot
Everything on this list is something I love to do. These are activities that in one way or another relax me. And, because they are things that I’m passionate about, they tend to get prioritised and they tend to work out to my satisfaction.
I could just as easily put together a list of all the things I cannot do as well as other mothers. I may be a good cook, but when it comes to turning out beautiful baked products please look elsewhere. I suck at keeping up with the housecleaning, aside from laundry, and the house is always in an organised state of clutter (worse right now due to the complete absence of storage BECAUSE APPARENTLY CLOSETS ARE TOO MUCH TO HOPE FOR). There’s not a lot of structured learning playtime around here, and if Emily has ever had some actual “tummy time” it’s because she’s lurched onto it from her pillow nest when my back is turned.
The thing is, when you start comparing yourself to others you need to be fair and focus on where your strengths & passions lie. Rather than being depressed that my cookies look like dog biscuits or my house never reaches that level of all rooms sparkling at once, I speak to myself honestly and admit that those are just not my strengths and, more importantly, that they don’t really bother me enough to make them into strengths. I mean, why would I want to waste time learning to decorate beautiful cookies when I could be reading a book or cooking something tasty for dinner?
I also find that it’s important to set goals rather than make plans. Every parent knows that the path to happiness lies in being flexible when possible. One of my goals is to embrace my vocation by trying to clean the house every week. It rarely works out, and that’s why it’s a goal to aim for rather than a plan to stick to. I’ve found that it pays off for my mood, and thus the mood of everyone in the house, if things are clean & less cluttered. But if I’m forcing myself to do those things on days when I’m exhausted because the baby hasn’t slept well or I’ve been running errands or doing other important things, it becomes too much and only makes the situation worse. So I follow my goal-plan for the week on an hour by hour basis each day, so that I can adjust it with the flow of life.
Getting married and, if so blessed, adding children to that mix is about embracing life. And life is alive – so why spend time looking at one perfectly captured moment on facebook/pinterest/a blog. It’s not the whole story, but a brief second in time.