In the run up to today my lovely husband asked me what I wanted to do for Mother’s Day. He said I could do anything I liked, and I’ll be honest I felt under pressure to come up with something that would mean we would have a beautiful day. Because special days out with small children are really easy to make beautiful right?! And his Mum isn’t here anymore and that is unspeakably sad and these are days and moments we need to cherish.
And then the more he asked me what I wanted to do the more inadequate I suddenly felt about my mothering. The more I felt the loss of identity I’ve felt since becoming pregnant HALF A DECADE ago. What do I want to do? Me? What do I even LIKE anymore? And then I felt increasingly terrible when the only answers I could think of were not things that were going to work as a day out with a 4 and 2 year old. Because I’m guessing a spa day or a five course tasting menu and three litres of white wine has a limited appeal for pre-schoolers.
The gap between the kind of mother I thought I’d be, the kind of mother I wanted to be, and the kind of mother I am, feels so vast. And I don’t know how much of that gap should be bridged by being more of that mother I imagined, and how much by accepting that it’s just not ever going to be me. That I will never be Mary Poppins and that’s ok. And how much of it is not really about being a mother at all but remembering who I actually am myself, so I feel a little less lost in this squidgy stretch-marked skin I find myself in.
So on a day when I was supposed to feel special I made myself feel like shit. I did that. To myself. Because I AM AN IDIOT. And it didn’t help that we didn’t have any plans, and there was a lot of shouting, and one of the kids tried to get naked in the pub, where we ate our over-priced dinner outside in the rain because even though we did manage to get a table without booking (which felt like a bit of a miracle!), the kids refused to sit inside!
I know I am doing my best and that is all you can do. I know that some days I get it wrong, and some days I get it spectacularly wrong. Some days I need to try harder, sure. But I’m doing my best. And that has to be enough. But on a day when I just wanted to laugh with my kids and feel appreciated, I have cried more than I have in the longest time (admittedly some of that was watching COCO at the cinema!).
And then a neighbour knocked on the door with a Happy Mother’s Day bunch of daffodils. And the kids came back downstairs after their bath to cuddle me and say they loved me and they were sorry for being a nightmare. And I really did feel loved, and then I cried some more and sipped my wine while I watched Deep Impact. Because nothing says Happy Mother’s Day and shit could be worse than a movie about the impending destruction of the whole world.
So just to say to anyone else that struggles with their mothering sometimes, I do too. We all do. And today of all days, you are special. You are a wonderful mother. You are the mother they need. And that stands whether today was just magical or a completely miserable shitfest!
Happy Mother’s Day to all you brilliant Mamas out there. You are doing a great job, don’t ever doubt it.
By Christina Pickworth