I met super-mom the other day. Actually, I met a bunch of them. Scary thing. I finally made it to a different mother-and-me group I have been meaning to check out only to feel frankly intimidated by the level of togetherness of some of these mothers.
It was 9am and their hair was set, their make-up perfect, their clothes cute and ironed… one of them even baked cookies! I, on the other hand, turned up late with avocado stains on my trousers (from my baby’s breakfast), a smudge of food still on Anya’s face, and having forgotten to bring toys to entertain her while we talk! But hey, I was just happy to be out of the house.
Nothing changes. It is a grown-up version of high school. There are still super people and the rest of us. I still feel inadequate when I compare myself to the popular people, it is just that now they are mums rather than teenagers. It struck me that these super moms were probably cheerleaders, in their day. Nothing changes. As I look around this group of moms I realise that just because we are adults doesn’t mean we have grown up all that much, that we are all confident, with it, organised (as parents used to look, when we were kids). Yes, there are super confident, beautiful yummy-mummies… and there are others that are struggling to get by; some who seamlessly juggle career and kids, others who are picking spaghetti out of their hair 4 hours after the last meal. We are not all cut from the same cloth.
… Slowly, it also occurs to me that mothering is a skill that benefits from experience. I am beating myself up here, but, the moms I admire and learn from the most are usually second (or third or fourth) time moms. By the second child a talent for not sweating the little stuff, taking the rough with the smooth and riding the wave seems to have emerged even with the least confident-seeming mums.
I look again… how many of the ‘super mums’ are second time mums or have super-support-systems? Hard to tell for sure. But lines get more blurred.
Finally, as my inner teenager stops screaming, an old adage comes to me: ‘perfection is the enemy of good’. As I look at other mums and judge them to be flawless I remember that when you get to know people a little bit more you tend to find that everybody has their strengths and their weaknesses, their insecurities, their human foibles. That which looks perfect from afar may well turn out to be cracked if you get up close enough to see it. It is true that people tell me I look like a ‘natural’ at this parenting thing, all the time. Hahahah!… if only they knew.
And in truth, I don’t want to be perfect, I just want to be ‘good’. I just want to love and be loved. I want to be perfect for my daughter, even in my imperfection. I want to be happy and proud of the kind of mother I become. I am ready to let go of (my idea of) perfect in order to work on the attainable: being as good as I can be, given my current knowledge, confidence and skills… and keep learning and growing. Maybe that is the secret of happiness.
Maybe it is not the ‘super moms’ I should be comparing myself to, but the ‘happy mums’… and maybe those are the ones who turn up with spagetti in their hair and a smile on their face as they remember their child having the time to explore and experiment freely and gleefully with their food. Maybe, I just need to ‘compare’ myself to me, let the inner me, the joy in my heart be compass. Heart full of joy: good day. Heart constricted and held tight (even if I look outwardly super, on-time, clean, tidy, beautiful, etc): not so good day. Phew. Exhale… Perhaps that is what our kids would want for us, too, not to be ‘super’ but to be happy. And don’t you just know those happy mums also have the happy, confident, outgoing, engaged kids? It has got to be that way, no?
Super-mom move over, an army of happy, relaxed, bumbling-through-it and learning-as-you-go mums are marching through with their dirty but smart, sassy kids, joyful as pigs in mud.