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Friday, 21 October 2011

Does Anyone Really Have it All Together?

I wonder if yummy mummys cry when they’re alone at night. 

Horrible thought isn’t it? 

Do you know what’s even worse? 

I kind of hope they do. 

I hope that sometimes they feel weak and scared and overwhelmed by it all.  It shouldn’t matter and I actually think it’s pretty damn cruel to wish ill will on anyone, but for my own sanity, when I see these wonderfully put together moms, I begin to convince myself that at some point, when they’re sure no one is looking, they have themselves a little melt down.

I know that makes me a horrible person but my brain cannot comprehend how it is even possible to have everything in life fall together that well.

To have your hair and makeup done, nails flawlessly manicured, free from chips and stains from the latest craft activity or pasta dinner. Clothes spotless and creaseless, like the laundry is always done and they have plenty of items that haven’t been drooled, snotted, or spit-up on and a body that looks good in all of them. 

I’m not talking about the moms who look perfect but haven’t spent an ounce of quality time with their children. 

I’m talking about the ones who are happily pushing their toddlers on the swing as they chat away to all their other mummy friends about the latest amazing art project they created or the completely organic meal they plan on making from scratch later.  The ones who find the time to keep the house clean while giving their child every ounce of attention they deserve. These women seem so completely distant from my reality that I have only two theories to explain it: 

Option A: They’re super women

I know a few mothers who fall into this category.  They are amazing. They rarely have a bad day and when they do, they can easily find a silver lining.  Their children are thriving and they are too.  I will not fault them for one second but I do envy them. I do not like the word envy (it is one of the seven after all) but if I’m honest, I have to admit I wish I could live life like they do – happy and completely fulfilled.

Option B: It’s an act

I know a few others like this too. Frankly, I fell into this category for a while there in the beginning when I was trying to convince myself everything was all fine and dandy. I was sure that as long as I ticked the ‘tidy house,’ ‘play with child,’ ‘prepare meals,’ ‘exercise,’ ‘teach child,’ boxes, that all would fall into place and I’d stop feeling so weird and detached about things. However, while I might have been pulling all of these things off on the outside, on the inside I was an absolute disaster, just ticking my way closer and closer to complete and utter destruction.

When I first admitted to my health visitor how I’d been feeling and postnatal depression was explained to me (the real symptoms, not the crazy extremes we see on TV) I felt nothing but relief. 

I finally started to give myself a break. 

So here I am, at the end of a weird day.  Not one of my worst but not one of my best either.  The beginning of the week threw some serious triggers my way and I just barely managed to hold it together. (Thanks once again to the amazing #ppdchat support!)  Today my daughter has been a little more high maintenance than usual.  I struggled to keep my cool at times and to not cry in front of her at others. When her bedtime came, I felt like a failure, still having no idea what is wrong with her. 

What if she is really ill and I’ve missed the signs? 

What if I didn’t give her enough attention today and she just needed a bit more love her way?

 I then took stock of a mental to do list and realised I had to clean the shower.  Yes really. 

On a Friday night.   

It needed it that badly.   

I have neglected it that long.

It’s clean now and my daughter is sleeping but I had myself a little cry and have cracked open a beer.

So that brings me back to my theory:

If I need that cry, and feel the need for a take out or a cheeky beverage after a day like today, those yummy mummys must feel the strain at some point too right?

Honestly I do hope those women fall in the supermom category as it’s nice to think that sometimes, if everything falls together right, life can be downright amazing. 

However, I do hope if they have taken option B, that they learn to cut themselves some slack. I hope these women can stop for a second, don sweats and grab a bowl of ice cream or go for a nice long run, whatever they want to do just for them, not for what they think the world wants to see.

I hate that sometimes I still feel the need to take Option B. I doubt anyone would mistake me for a yummy mummy but in everywhere but on Twitter and this blog, I try to keep moving like everything is just fine.

It isn’t.

I am a mom of a toddler and I have postnatal depression.  Those two stack up to some really shitty times. 

I had to let go of my perfectionist tendencies just so I’d stop feeling like a complete failure each and every minute of each and every day. 

I cry when I need it. 

I run when I want to not because I feel I need to.

I let the housekeeping slip.

I rely on my husband to pick up the slack.

I have learned that I shouldn’t feel guilty about this. (But sometimes I still do)  I have an illness and it takes a lot to get better.  Without the illness, it still takes a hell of a lot to be a parent.

If you know a supermom, be sure to tell her just how wonderful you think she is.  I bet she doesn’t hear it very often so even she may have doubts at times. 

For those of you who have taken Option B, be brave and tell someone when you are feeling overwhelmed. I bet you are surprised by the response you get. 

If, like me, you feel like you’re on the outside constantly looking in, you are not alone. We are not alone.  There are thousands of us fighting this fight and although it feels like everyone else has it all together, not all of us do.

I certainly don’t.


TheBoyandMe said...

It's all a facade! I have a friend who seems all put together and a yummy mummy. How someone who works full-time can have the time to keep her 4-bedroomed detached house clean and spick and span, shop in Reiss, have beautifully behaved children, everything presentable, makes amazing food and crafts with her children manages it all I'll never know. Oh yes I do. Her husband gets commission in Waitrose vouchers so she buys ready-meals (even microwaveable chips) there, she has a cleaner and someone who does her ironing, and her children do craft at the full-time nursery. She has split with her husband twice, is in mountains of debt and is distanced from her children.

I sound bitchy, but I'm not. She's one of my best friends, but I know that the yummy mummy facade is just that, bollocks. She cries out of tiredness and frustration like the rest of us. They all do.

mum monologue said...

I constantly strive to maintain some kind of equilibrium, every day. I see other mums and they're so together, like having a baby is the most simple and natural thing in the world (I thought it was but its not for me). I think to myself this is much harder than its supposed to be - surely. Is it me finding it harder or is it just harder for me? I don't know.
I definitely feel like I'm on the outside looking in and if I'm honest I can't imagine ever being 'in'. Nice to know that I have some company out here though x

April Cochrane said...

Me and my Fiance work as a team to get everything done. He helps with cooking, cleaning, we both take turns bathing our son, having lie ins, we plan our training sessions (We both run) around each other. Its bloody hard work and I do cry with him when things get too much. I don' broadcast it too much to the world when I have had one of those moments but I have them at leave once every 6 weeks!

There is no such thing as a 'perfect mum'. And believe me these mums do cry and they have their own safe places and people they talk to when things are tough.

We all need to stop comparing ourselves to each other. Very hard I know as its something I battle with myself, but learning to focus on myself and no others is something I am getting better at.

Very interesting read. Thanks for sharing xxx

SandyS125 said...

Oh my goodness, I have a friend or two like this too!! I try hard not to be envious and remind myself that there's a housekeeper helping them out and their paychecks allow them to provide/do more but some days it just makes me wonder if I should be working harder/succeeding more at work to justify 'letting the side down' when it comes to being a mom. The perfect balance does seem an impossibility though - thanks for sharing this example! Your comments, as always, put a little perspective on my crazy mutterings. ;-)

SandyS125 said...

Focusing on myself...that's something I keep vowing to do but never manage it and feel continually let down about it. (It's likely to be it's own post soon) I know exactly what you mean about regressing back to college habits! The days when I'm on "mom duty," I rarely manage a shower and quite often my lunch is inhaling a cup of noodles while she naps and I'm waiting for laundry to finish...

SandyS125 said...

I know what you mean about blogging! I wish I had found it earlier. I had no idea the numbers of us feeling the same way, much less sharing their thoughts, feelings, and stories about it all.

SandyS125 said...

And thank you for letting me know I'm not the only one!

SandyS125 said...

It's nice to think that some manage it but it sure is a relief to know so many others find it just as hard doesn't it?

SandyS125 said...

Thank you. I've been wallowing a bit too much in my own little world lately and have forgotten that I'm not alone in this. I'll be sure to visit your blog in the next few days, especially to read about your tho in thoughts on the same subjects.

MsXpat said...

You are spot on and thankfully due to blogging I've come to realise that there are many of us meeting these challenges everday. I find that a comfort in itself.

mirjam koch said...

It's as if your inside my head, I could have written every word of this!
Thanks for writing it down :)

Margaret said...

I do think everybody (especially the "perfect" ones) is putting on the public face. Some do it better than others. And I'm sure some really do have most things together. But nobody is perfect. I need to believe that too. I don't think that makes either of us a bad person.

Christina Thomas said...

Great post Sandy. I'm 4 years and 2 kids into being a Mom and I still find myself envious of the Mom's at preschool who look showered, dressed, and wearing full make-up at the 9am drop off. Seriously how do they do it? I still only average 3 showers a week and that is taking 2 at 6:30am before the kids get up, and one in the evening. I am rarely seen at the playground without a baseball hat, or as I call them "dirty hair hats." I have regressed back to my college days of wearing the same pair of jeans for a week and (gasp) running so late that throw a sweatshirt over my sleep shirt. On the flip side, my kids get a bath at least 5 days a week and often wear 2 clean outfits a day, plus a quick dress-up change. I have forgotten how to look in the mirror before I leave the house, instead I look at my boys. If they look put together then I feel I've done my job. Part of me can't wait till I have time to focus more on myself.

Story said...

I've often wondered the same things. In fact, I've been thinking and writing about it a lot lately. My guess would be that on some level, everyone has trouble with something - some of it is just the things we don't see. Even the supermoms. And we have gifts and graces, they don't have. You are a beautiful writer and a very compassionate person - that's worth a billion art projects to me.