I have a secret to tell you. I haven’t the foggiest how to be the perfect mother. I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing most of the time.
Of course I know what the no-brainers are – feeding, loving, housing and clothing. And I have picked up some brilliant tips from my own mother like unconditional love, honesty, compassion and the importance of education and questioning the world in which we live. But on a day-to-day basis, I haven’t a clue what I’m doing. Every day has it’s own unique challenges when raising three girls.
It all started from the moment our first child was born. Twiggy and I found ourselves in a hospital room with our gorgeous girl. The midwife was doing what midwives do before bidding us farewell. My husband and I looked at each other aghast. Huh? What? Where was she going?
“I’m sorry, but will you be coming back later to help look after our baby or are we on our own now?” I cried out a little manically (and yes, I did say that). I mean we had no idea what to do with this tiny human being.
“Ummm, she’s all yours,” she replied with a wry grin.
Twiggy and I stared at her blankly. Then we stared at our baby blankly. Then we looked back at her with fear in our eyes. Are you kidding?
“You don’t even know how to change a nappy do you?” she asked.
We shook our heads and stared at her some more, our faces ashen, sweat on our brows.
Luckily for us, she didn’t leave right away and instead took us through some basics of caring for a newborn, complete with a session on how to change a nappy and how to swaddle a baby. And she urged us to sing out if we needed a hand with anything. We weren’t as alone as we thought we were.
Actually, it didn’t take long to realise that as soon as you have children you are public property. Everyone will have something to tell you about child rearing. Their way will always be the right way. Judgment and guilt comes hand-in-hand with being parents.
Remember not all unsolicited advice is bad. Some of the best tips about being a parent I’ve got from complete strangers and some of the worst from people I know very well.
One thing about parenting is you can never be an expert, no matter how much of an expert you think you are. You see every kid is different which means every situation needs to be handled differently. No one way is the “best” way.
And this takes me back to my earlier statement: “I haven’t the foggiest about how to be the perfect mother”. You know there is no such thing. Nobody is the perfect mother. You can only be the best mother you can be. As long as you get the basics right, you reach out for help when you need it, you give yourself time to be alone to recharge, you follow your dreams and have interests outside of your family. You need to remember never to compare yourself to others. Everyone has their own battles. As long as you’re honest with yourself and back yourself you’re doing just fine. As long as you love with all your heart and encourage your children to follow their path and embrace their own journey with love in their heart then you’re on the right track. And never underestimate the power of meeting a friend or your partner for a glass of wine or cup of tea and having a cry or a laugh or a vent. Mothering in isolation will never work. It takes a village to raise a child.
Nobody has all the answers. The secret is there is no secret to being a good parent. Nobody truly knows what they’re doing. Some are just better at faking it.
* This post was first published on Kidspot. It was my third challenge post as a finalist in the Personal and Parenting category of the Voices of 2014 competition. You can read the first challenge here. And the second challenge here.