parent opinion

'I'm having a full on mum breakdown. I'm done with trying to be the perfect parent.'

I’m in the midst of a breakdown of epic proportions. Let’s call it a mumumental breakdown.

If I’m honest, it’s been niggling at me just below the surface for years, waiting to combust.

You know what I think though? I think all mums have been where I am, trying to do it all.

Stay at home with the kids. Work from home with the kids. Work outside the home with kids. Kids’ school demands. Kids’ sports and activities. The kids themselves’ demands. Dealing with husband or partner’s demands. Dealing with friends, family and society’s demands.

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Demands, demands and more demands. Not to mention the burdens we place on ourselves.

We’re far too hard on ourselves. It’s hard not to be when we are constantly called upon to be a shining example of what motherhood apparently looks like. If we have an opinion that’s different from other mums, we are judged. If we stand up for ourselves, we are targeted as well as judged.

We are bombarded on social media with messages that we can do it all, we can be it all. We can achieve mum perfection. We are told that in order for our kids to turn out as well-adjusted, amazing adults, we must set that example.

Well, I’m sorry, but that’s not always possible. I know I’m far from perfect and that is completely okay with me.

Kids need to see that their mums are not flawless. I only ever saw my mum being strong, never vulnerable. So when I show my kids vulnerability I have an innate tendency to feel guilty about it, even though I know there is no freedom in appearing strong all the time.

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If I show them that I’m sad sometimes, I wonder if they’ll think I’m weak. If I show them I make mistakes too, I fear that I’m showing them the wrong path.

But all I’m really showing them is that I’m just a mum who has all the feels they have as kids, on a grander scale.

I don’t mind teaching them that feeling down is often situational, because the truth is for most of us mums, we simply don’t have time to feel low for too long. We have to show up for life and deal with the crap that comes with it in the best way we know how.

To all my fellow parents: we should grant ourselves permission to be who we really are. We should allow our kids to see the good, the bad and the unpleasant sides of us.

Personally, when I’m having one of these breakdowns, I just need to go quiet for a while. Spend some time on my own, ground myself again and remember that I will come out on the other side of the day/week/month, and I’ll be happier if I don’t beat myself up so much.

In the end, it doesn’t matter what other mums (or anyone) thinks of you. If you need to lose it once in a while, it’s okay. Your kids are going to love you regardless.

Lidija Zmisa is a mum of three girls, wife and freelance writer. She is currently writing a book for middle-grade readers.

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