I’m not worried now about little things, like matching shoes. Sure, it would be nice if all our shoes matched when we went out, but I don’t place my value as a mother on whether or not it happens.
The first thing I notice is that their children’s clothes match. Then I will notice that their children’s clothes are also clean, and they do not have dried snot/muesli bars/Legos/dirt stuck to the front of their shirts/faces/hair, acquired just from the car ride to the park. I will notice matching shoes, both on the kids and on the mum. I will see how happy her children are, and I will intuit that it is because, clearly, she is the perfect mum.
Which I, clearly, am not.
My house is a mess, my patience is hardly a composure I explore regularly, and there are times when I feel like I am the biggest failure in the history of modern motherhood.
Some days I’m just shooting for a participation trophy. There is no award for ignoring the laundry until everyone is out of underwear, or letting my 3-year-old watch Mulan three times before lunch. Did I mention I take my kids to McDonald’s once a week?
Imperfect mum. Check.
There was a mum I used to know many years ago in a mother’s group who was absolutely stunning. In her 40s. Blonde, pixie-cut hairstyle. Stylish. Matching jewellery, like, every day. Had interesting things to say and was interested in what you had to say. She was like the beautiful, composed unicorn of the playground.
I was 26 at the time, with two kids under two, and I struggled to wake up before our group meetings with enough time to dress in anything other than old jeans and one of my husband’s band T-shirts. She was a woman who should have inspired me. Instead, I was just furiously intimidated by her. How did she have 3-year-old twin boys and a 5-year-old son, and yet still look so amazing every morning? What was her secret to being the perfect parent?
One morning we were letting our kids play outside on a playset, and her 5-year-old was terrorising the younger kids with monster noises. This wasn’t a big deal to me, but I noticed it bothered her a lot. By the time she finally got him to sit down on time out, she was nearly in tears.