Sunday, 8 February 2015

The Secrets of Motherhood

When you think back to your childhood, you probably remember your mum - maybe traditionally making food, bathing you, driving you somewhere.  Your mum - at least to your three year old eyes - is a simple being, who brings food, who makes everything better.  Simple; essential.

But what no-one tells you about is the inner life of a mum.

Take conscience for example.

I made ham sandwiches for tea, with cucumber and a few 'face' crisps on the side.

I knew as I made them that all the children would eat the crisps, some would eat the cucumber, maybe one would nibble at the ham or bread.

I knew, in fact, that most of it - but not the crisps of course - would end up in the rubbish.

And yet I made the sandwiches.

I didn't give in to my knowledge of what would actually be consumed and make a plate of crisps and cucumber.

I didn't omit to put a few crisps on each plate - after all, what's life without a few treats?

So who was it for?  For whom did I butter the bread, cut the ham and peel the cucumber?  Them or my conscience? 

So I'd know that I'd provided a healthy balance and it was them who chose to forego this opportunity?!

No-one tells you about these things.

No-one tells you about the moment when your baby runs into your arms, or your toddler laughs, his eyes urging you to join in, when all you can see is their terrible fragility, and the size of the world vs them; and all you can think about is how on earth you're going to be able to protect them from all that - both physically and emotionally.

No-one tells you that after tea you'll long for the time when they've gone to bed and you can relax, and then - the moment they're asleep - how you can't wait for them to be in your arms again.

No-one tells you that when they demand yet another cup of water or dollop of mayonnaise during tea that you'll find yourself rising to their command despite your better judgement.

No-one tells you that - once you become a mummy - there won't be a day when you wouldn't mark your own report card (assuming you had time to write one) "could do better."  There won't be a day when you tick all the boxes - healthy diet, exercise, teeth, bath, bed - there will always be something to flog yourself with.

Perhaps they get forgotten as life goes on and things change?  Perhaps they go when your adult children look at you and suddenly see your fragility and vulnerability?

Perhaps motherhood is all about being able to fool yourself into thinking you're doing a good job.

Or perhaps it's about learning that it's OK to settle for 'OK' instead of 'perfect.'  That children will be children, and that - despite your worries - things will probably be fine.


Anonymous said...

I think it is the latter, Gill. I am just unsure how we get to the point of settling for OK rather than keep striving for perfection. Maybe we'll get there one day.

Gillian Harvey said...

You never know!

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