I could waste a lot of time and effort worrying about the kind of mum I’m not.
I’m a bit of a poor housewife. I don’t iron anything, ever. I clean my house minimally and mostly if people are coming. I used to do it properly, but have lowered it’s place in the priority list since the children were born. We are hygienic but not spic and span.
I don’t bake or craft with my children as often as I would like.
I seem to spend half my life in the kitchen cooking dinner, making the packed lunches and washing up, when I want to be doing reading, homework and drawing with the children.
I hate board games. I can’t bear swimming. I’m not a big fan of the bicycle.
I am a grumpy old cow when we’re aiming for a deadline to leave the house on time and any of them is faffing about and not doing what needs to be done.
I have become impatient about dealing with dramas which I have no power to fix because the solution they require is something that doesn’t even exist in this universe.
I decided to work part time and so I have a lot less money than the parents of my children’s friends so we have fewer holidays, days out, clothes, shoes and a smaller house.
I’m not the best cook. My food is generally palatable enough, but rarely drop-dead gorgeous.
At bedtime, I want the children to be not seen and not heard until morning. I will do whatever needs to be done and any added niceties from wake-up time until bedtime, but after that, I want my evening.
Sometimes when I look at the kind of parents my friends are, I compare myself with them and have a moment of feeling that I wished I were more like them. I wonder if my children are missing out because they got me as their mum; if they had one of my friends as their mum then they might be able to do things and have things that they don’t have with me.
So I could beat myself up for the fact that I am not someone else. This would be rather a waste of time and energy; I am who I am. Each of us has just 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week- we can’t be everyone and we can’t do everything. I don’t even want to do everything!
I know the kind of mum I am not and it’s ok. I’m not the only influencer in my children’s lives. They have a dad who does bike ride, swim and like board games.
I walk to and from school with them each day so that we have time to chat about the day, their friends, their work, their joys and their worries.
We do read books, even if it’s a bit slowly chapter by chapter, but we have great joy in them finding the film adaptation and deciding if it tells the story well or not. I love to hear them read aloud.
I love being out in nature with the girls and slowing down to savour and enjoy it. The baby and I watched a snail cross the pavement yesterday; it took 12 minutes but she wanted to keep watching! I love hearing them note aspects of the changing season, such as the teeny-little-starter conker shells that were strewn all across the park today after some particularly heavy rains. We love to look at snails, spider webs, the blossom, the frost patterns on cars, the puddles in the park, the fallen tree, the clouds, the closed daisies we pass on the way to school and the open ones they’ve become on our way home.
I love to savour special days like half birthdays and make little celebrations of tooth-loss days, end of term days and play days at home.
I listen well.
I’m not all things to all people. I’m me and I parent differently to you in some ways. I’m not better and I’m not worse, I’m just me and not you, so I have to do it my way.
You are the person you are and you are the parent you are. You are doing it your way. There is not one way to be a good parent; there are millions of ways and you choose the ways each day as you talk, care for, provide for and nurture your children.
You will want your children to be happy with the person that they are, so show them what that looks like.
Learn to accept your weaknesses and your challenges- we all have them, we just have different ones, and often they change.
Learn to notice, appreciate and stand tall with your strengths. Own them and celebrate them by being glad of them.
Step out of the comparison game and step into the appreciation game.
Be kind to yourself. You are your children’s mum. They love you.
Love yourself. Love the children. Appreciate who you are.
This isn’t woowoo hippy crap. This is the way to live a contented life.
When My Husband Had a Stroke: The Pragmatic Heart