A friend told me a story (see comments on Honesty Breeds Honesty) about how she reacted upon hearing a story about the perfect mother with the perfect sleeping non-crying newborn in a total Johnson and Johnson commercial type situation. I think if we’re honest, most of us would have felt a gnawing feeling of resentment in our guts when we hear stories like these. It’s hard when you’ve struggled as a Mum to hear that others actually loved being pregnant, loved giving birth and love every minute of being a mother. He doesn’t cry, sleeps through at 1.5 weeks, drinks from the fountain of motherhood like clockwork and coos adoringly the rest of the time.
The sad thing about it all is that it is that Mother Guilt at the heart of it all. We who struggle feel guilty about our reality, and are fearful that if we tell the truth we’ll be judged as bad mothers and someone will come and take our kids away. Sometimes what’s worse is that people think we’re telling a funny story and they laugh. NO! We scream on the inside, this sucks for me, I’m trying to be heard! And we give up. Lock it all up so nobody can see and we pretend. And when we hear those perfect stories it’s too much. It just reinforces our belief that we’re no good. So we go on the attack. Just you wait we think, you may have a fantastic baby now, but may the curse of the toddler years fall hard on your house lady. If we haven’t said it out loud, we could probably all admit that we’ve thought it once or twice. If we’re honest.
I bet you anything that some of those utopia mothers out there are actually too afraid to be honest about their experience. I bet there are mothers who make things sound a little worse than they really are, just so that they don’t come across too smugly happy. What are we doing to each other ladies? Struggle Mummies feeling guilty about things being shit, and Happy Mummies feeling guilty about quite the opposite! I was once told that motherhood is guilt, but if we could just hear each other a bit more, hear and not judge would some of it go away?
For what it’s worth, I have a fair bit to do with Child Safety in the course of my work. I know about where the benchmark is where they start thinking about taking your kids away. And it’s got nothing whatsoever to do with failing on a daily basis to be the perfect mother.