Being a mother is the most rewarding role and indeed, one of the hardest.
We are seeing more portrayals of the harder parts of motherhood these days. There’s definitely a movement stepping away from the sugar coated, Enid Blyton pretence of ‘jolly mothering’ – all rosy cheeks and baking cookies, not an F bomb being dropped from anyone’s mouth (kids or mums), as well as smooth, youthful skin and no sign of deep, burrowed lines from exhaustion and screaming at everyone to get off TikTok – or at your partner (for everything).
But there are still unhelpful, filtered posts on social media depicting ‘perfect’ motherhood in spotless houses with everyone in clean, ironed clothes, often matching no less, glowing at each other with laughter and harmony (and rosy cheeks).
This, of course, does nothing for the real world of mothering which actually has real mothers in it, struggling to juggle jobs and childcare, endless sleepless nights, relationships falling apart, caring for ill children, mental health issues and the list goes on. And the whole time putting a smile on for their kids and reaasuring them that everything’s alright, even when they really don’t think it themselves, because all we want is for our kids to feel safe and happy.
Comparisonitis is a thing. And we all fall into its trap. Seeing other people seemingly cruising through life makes anyone who feels like they’re not (which is everyone at some point because ‘to cruise’ is an anomaly and downright impossible) just makes you feel shit.
I’ve been known to throw my phone across the room in a bout of serious comparisonitis and wonder what the hell I’m doing wrong. But it’s not just images on your phone that can trigger it. So often fellow mothers regale stories of wonderful trips to the park or hours of harmonious board game fun, while you’re just trying to get to the loo on your own and stop your kids from watching angsty, sweary YouTubers 24/7. For mothers of teenagers like myself, it can be hard hearing others tell you about all the wonderful, open chats they’re having with their ‘best friend’ teen when yours just grunt at you – once if they want something and twice to tell you you’re totally cringe and generally make them feel icky.
I’m not begrudging these wonderful parenting moments because when they happen, let’s face it, we all want to shout from the rooftops because that’s what they are – moments. And as a mother, when you have moments when things are going really well, we all want to trap them in a box and cherish them forever. But for those moments of unprecedented joy, there are many challenging moments too when we question what we’re doing and feel guilty for not doing enough.
It’s so important to remind ourselves and each other that we’re only human. Like millions of mothers across the world, now, and for thousands of years before us, we are all trying our best. But it’s a lot easier if we support one another, be honest with each other and don’t pretend we know exactly what we’re doing all the time. None of us really know what we’re doing, let’s face it. Theres no right or wrong and absolutely no manual, so we do what we think is right at the time. And sometimes it will be, and sometimes it won’t – and when it’s not, I’m sure our kids will let us know until perhaps they’re parents themselves one day, and realise it can be a tough gig.
So, this Mothers Day, let’s support one another and ditch the comparisons. And let’s think about those mothers who are finding today tough: mothers nursing sick children, mothers who are carers, mothers missing children, mothers doing it entirely on their own, new mothers, mothers of young ones and mothers of older ones, because my own mother has told me that it doesn’t get any easier. The worry is indeed always there.
Let’s also think about all those who won’t be finding this day easy, in fact will be finding it really, really hard: those who’d give anything to be a mother, those who’d give anything to have one more minute with their mother, those who’d give anything to feel love from a mother and those who’d give anything to have one more precious minute being a mother.
And also let’s please remember all the mothers across the world who are living through the constant terror of war and trying to protect their children at all costs. The fear and danger they are facing every single day is unimaginable.
This post is especially dedicated to my own mother who is quite simply the strongest, most amazing and inspirational woman I know.