I recently talked about how one of the biggest myths is the effectiveness of multi-tasking.
Well, guess what. I’ve found another one. A much bigger one.
The greatest myth of all is…
IT CAN’T BE THAT HARD HAVING KIDS
‘Well I knew that,’ I hear you say. ‘Of course it’s hard.’
But do you really think that? Really? How many times have you been thinking how blooming hard it is before catching sight of your lovely, stylish and ever-so-together friend or neighbour shimmying towards you with their beautifully mannered children. And then that other thought pops into your mind. You know, that really niggly one, which contradicts the one you were just having. ’It can’t be that hard having kids,’ you think. ’She’s doing it and she doesn’t seem to be struggling.’
Yes, THIS is the biggest myth. That YOU are the only one that finds it tough. I promise you. Even if I’m the only other one who finds it difficult (which I’m not). Behind closed doors we are all having our own struggles. Crikey, I don’t even manage to confine mine to closed doors. Public displays of inaptitude are our forte.
Whenever I’m tired, irritable, anxious and in a perpetual state of being run down, I wonder why. ‘You have two young children,’ a wise person suggests. Yes, but so does everyone else, I think. So that’s not a valid enough reason. Because everyone else is doing it and they don’t seem to be struggling. Vicious circle.
So, why do we think everyone else is finding it easier than us? Why can’t we trust and take solace in the fact that it is easily the hardest job any of us have ever done?
Probably because we think it should come naturally. We are led to believe that mothering is the most natural thing in the world. Erm, no, not unless ‘natural’ is never having time to yourself, often feeling like you are a slave, and just craving one minute of peace where your ears are not being assaulted by demands of a minor or worse, CBeebies. Not that we watch TV in our house, of course. We’re too busy doing crafts. Ha ha.
When we share our inadequacies with one another and are honest about just how hard it is, we feel better. The relief is palpable. But we soon forget this truth and in our low moments feel that everyone is doing a better job than us. There’s always someone to compare ourselves to.
The other thing that makes us feel dreadful is expectation. Not other people’s. Our own. So many friends have said to me they aren’t the mother they expected they would be. They would, of course, be better. But you know what? We had these preconceptions exactly then… PRE-CONCEPTION. It’s easy to say you’ll be a patient, nurturing, ‘ABC-teaching whilst putting on the home-made dinner’ mother when you’re sitting there childless, in your skinny jeans with a glass of wine in your hand. The reality is a galaxy far, far away…
I thought I’d be a much better mother than I actually feel most of the time. When we were having a particularly difficult time with Beaver, I said she needed a different mother. I thought I was failing her that badly. And I was told, ‘You are the best mother for Beaver. Because you’re her mother.’
And there is great truth in that. Our children love us, flaws and all. They don’t judge us when we get it wrong. It is we who judge ourselves.
So, next time you find yourself doing just that and thinking, ’It can’t be that hard having kids, everyone else is doing it and they don’t seem to be struggling.’
That’s the greatest myth of all.