I recently saw the film Bad Moms and it got me thinking about my own parenting. About that unreachable bar that’s set for parents that we can never quite grasp – the strive for perfection.
Nearly every parent at some point or other will feel that they are a bad mum, or a bad dad. But does the perfect parent even exist?
What is a perfect mum anyway?
Is it an alpha-mummy – like the wonderful BetaMummy draws in comparison to her own life? Who has her life together and manages to pull it off with effortlessness?
Is she the mum judging you from afar? Telling you that you should be doing things their way – as their way is superior? She must be perfect right?
Or is it the mum you stare at who doesn’t even need to take a bib with them when they each out as their child eats meticulously. The one that makes you think “why can’t I be like that”.
One thing’s for sure – we never see ourselves as being that perfect mum.
And do you know why?
It’s because a perfect mum is in fact a creature of make believe. We stare at other parents and pull apart their qualities. In a few seconds we judge them for whether they’re a good parent or a bad parent. The good bits go into the perfect parent pile and the negative go into the ‘judgement’ pile.
But is a snapshot really enough to judge perfection? No.
We all have good days and those that we’d rather forget. I have days where I’ve walked with Georgia under my arm, with her kicking and screaming out of shops – I’m sure people have deemed me to be a bad mother from that.
We’ve created this Stepford wife perfect mum as a toxic mix of qualities we see as desirable. But she’s not real.
She’s the boogieman of mums. Built to haunt us. To question our abilities. To make us feel inadequate.
But, we’re not inadequate. All we can hope as parents is to do the best job possible. As parents we don’t get feedback like you do in a job as to how well you’re doing which is why we’ve created this beast of a perfect mother. There’s also no one way of ‘winning’ or being a good mum, so there’s no way of truly defining one way of parenting that works for all. You’ll only know how well you’ve done once they’re fully grown. But by then it’s too late.
Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?
I’m going to drop a truth bomb and it may scare you, or make you laugh if you think it’s untrue, but I want you to take it seriously as it’s probably true.
At some point while you’ve been out, somebody has looked at you and thought that YOU are the perfect parent.
You wouldn’t have even realised it and it’d probably been over a really normal thing like being at the park running after your kid, or chatting to them in a pushchair around a shop.
But to somebody else watching you, they get a tiny glimpse of the perfection in your family. They didn’t see when they bit the child in front of them in the slide queue or that they’d had to be in the pushchair as they’d just had an epic tantrum.
We all focus on the negatives so much in our effort to strive for perfection that we’re forgetting what we do have:
Sure, it’s not always perfect, but sometimes – just sometimes – it is. We just need to look in the mirror instead of to the mother next to us to see it.