Mother Inferior

As cliche as it sounds, I would definitely say that motherhood is my biggest achievement in life to date. I grew an actual human! I carried him for nine months (and gave up wine during that time.) I went through a grueling 16 hours of labour and major surgery to bring him into the world. And I've been dealing with sleepless nights, poo explosions, hissy fits and soft play Saturdays ever since. I am a frickin' machine!

So why then, is the one thing I feel most proud of also the one thing that leads to so many of my insecurities?

In a way I guess it was inevitable. I am, and always have been, a fairly self deprecating person. The sort who can't accept a compliment without a 'thanks, but...' before launching into boring and unnecessary explanations about how any given achievement wasn't that great or could have been done better by someone else. That coupled with the social expectations and pressure from the media that all mums face was bound to leave me feeling a bit wobbly. And yet, it seems to be more than that sometimes.

At the very top of my list of parental failings is the fact that before he even had his first birthday my son was the product of a broken home. I don't like that phrase but that's what it was. I know that separated parents and 'blended families' are becoming increasingly common these days. I also know that it was 100% the right decision for everyone involved and we're all much happier now. But it doesn't take away my nagging worries for the future or the feelings of failure that come with being unable to provide him with a 'normal' family unit.

Then there are the lifestyle choices and the day-to-day failings. I didn't breastfeed. I chose to go back to work. I consistently forget to write important nursery dates on the calendar. I probably let him use the iPad too much. There are Chipsticks trampled into the back of the car that I still haven't hoovered up. I'm shit at crafts. I find lego boring. And on the days where he is running rings around me or I genuinely don't know how to deal with a particularly savage tantrum I find myself thinking dark thoughts like 'I'm not cut out for this' or 'he deserves better'.

Why is that as parents we constantly hate on ourselves like this? Why do we always feel inferior? Like we're not good enough? From the moment they are born the guilt is there. Am I doing this right? Am I meeting his needs? Am I a good enough mother? Even worse, am I a bad mother?

I think it was Eleanor Roosevelt who said 'nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent'. But most of the time it isn't others who make us feel inferior. It's ourselves. There is a constant internal battle of what we think we should be and what we actually are. For the reasons listed above I've always beat myself up as a mother and yet now Jack has started pre-school and seems to be doing quite well I'm actually surprised to find myself thinking 'well shit, maybe I'm doing OK after all.'

I think that the pressure of raising another human is so all-encompassing that I will always question myself and worry if I'm doing it right. That in itself tells me I'm not a bad parent. If I were, I simply wouldn't give a toss. So maybe it's time to drop the inferiority complex and just be the best mum I can. Even if I do have a messy car and hate lego.

1 comment:

  1. LOL! I had to learn to love Lego, it really hurts when you tread on it ... But of course, it should never been trodden on because the house should be tidy at all times!