Wednesday, 30 November 2011
Confessions of an imperfect mother
It seems we live in the era of the super achieving mummy. The woman who's made motherhood her vocation and I don't mean in the sense of being a stay-at-home mum but rather in that her children are the centre of her universe. She will make it a point to attend every PTA, every rehearsal and will be the first to volunteer for the bake sale. She takes her role very seriously and is on duty 24 hours a day. While I admire the single-mindedness of these women I recognize that this could not possibly be my reality. Yes I adore my children and love spending time with them, but I also adore me and realise that I need to take time out for myself too... for my own sanity. The difficulty is finding the right balance and here is where the confession comes in.
I have been known to refuse a big running hug from my youngest because I just got my nails done. Yes I know how vain, but I feel I did my time when they were babies and I spent months smelling of regurgitated milk. Surely I can't still be expected to look like the same sleep-deprived hot mess five years later? Aside from the dedication to beautifying myself at their 'expense', I've also been known to guard my free time quite jealously. If this means locking myself in the bathroom for a long hot bath or missing the odd schoolmate birthday party then so be it. I get that we're expected to act as unpaid taxi drivers for our little angels but there are times when the birthday parties seem to happen constantly. Short of dedicating my weekends to shuttling them from one to the other, naughty mummy that I am, I opt out. Admittedly opting out requires a form of bribery usually in the form of an extended TV 'pass'. Yes, I know how shocking using television as a babysitter- what can I say other than that it works! Then there are times especially at the weekend when the dance/football/tae kwan do/art classes are over, the food shopping and cleaning have been done and the thought of cooking threatens to reduce me tears. At this moment I thank God for that creepy clown and his chicken nuggets and over-salted fries. If it's any consolation I do wipe the salt off and insist the kids wash down their genetically-modified meal with water instead of the more appealing fizzy options. Also the children see it as a treat even though I end up feeling slightly guilty that I wasn't organised enough to give them a wholesome meal.
Raising a child in the 21st century is whole different ball game to what our parents experienced. If our little super-achievers aren't mastering the violin while learning Cantonese, they're training to become the next Prima ballerina. I'm not sure whether society is to blame for this need that we all seem to have to raise children who don't seem to ever stop. It's no longer enough to have a child who does well at school and has one or two extra-curricular activities for fun. Our kids are encouraged to race ahead of their classmates, master several languages, instruments and be ace at numerous sporting activities. And this would be fine in itself but the 21st century mother has to facilitate this sprint to the top. I was told recently by my daughter's teacher that I should consider some playdates with classmates as part of her personal development. The words that entered my head but fortunately didn't leave my mouth were: "Doesn't she see enough of them already and why on earth are you trying to plan my spare time for me?"
It can all be rather exhausting at times so for now I think I'll stick with my shortcomings. I'm hoping my kids will continue to laugh when I get their bags, lunch, books even names mixed up and will still squeal with delight when I suggest a Saturday trip to McDonalds. When this changes then maybe I'll start reassessing my parenting skills, until then I'm going to continue enjoying my imperfect moments that allow me to be a little bit self-indulgent.