Jan 18, 2016

Perfect mums are imperfect

Us mums who convert Starbucks in a playground to enjoy our coffee…

This morning, after two very bad nights (worse than usual), a very long, physically and mentally tiring day yesterday, Oliver decided to scream his lungs out when I changed his nasty nappy. Just because. Nothing could make him feel better or less desperate. When this happens I usually react in one of these two ways: I shut down and change him silently through the screams or I keep telling him useless and wasted words.

This morning, after two very bad nights (worse than usual), a very long, physically and mentally tiring day yesterday, an endless loud and stressful nappy change, my husband decided to tell me—I’ll sum it up all in one sentence for drama effect—”When you’re tired, you sound frustrated and talk to him disrespectfully. You should be more patient, you shouldn’t take it out on him”.

Now, as you can imagine, I wasn’t happy and I surely let him know. Is it just me or men usually pick the very worst moments to say what goes through their minds? Sensitivity levels below zero.

Alex is right on a few things, though. I do lose it sometimes. And I do say things like, “Oliver, there’s really no reason to cry” in a more frustrated way when I’ve had enough (which I guess it’s what might make it sound disrespectful). And I do lose my cool more easily when I’m tired.

I’m only human, after all.

Of course I would prefer to be water at all times—collected, calm and serene—but it just doesn’t work like that. I don’t mean to moan, but being on your own with your baby the whole day is not exactly a stroll in the park. It gets hard at times, the kind of hard that you sometimes need to take a deep breath before picking him up or talking to him. And I do it a lot: I’ve taken more deep breaths in these past 10 months than in my entire life. That’s how I collect myself.

Now, I’ll give my husband this: he’s not here to see what an awesome, calm mum I am during the day. He’s not here all those times when Oliver screams because I don’t let him play with the printer and it’s on me to teach him that’s not a reason to cry. He’s not here all the times when Oliver cries if I leave his side for just one minute (separation anxiety, here we come!). He’s not here all the times when I put Oliver to sleep for his long morning nap, sit at the computer to finally get something done and he wakes up. He’s not here all the times when Oliver refuses to eat his lunch time so I patiently sit with him for even an hour. He’s not here when Oliver wakes up exactly when I’m starting a difficult class, but I go get him with a big smile on my face, no matter what.

So when he says you should be more patient he’s really talking about a 5% of the time I spend with Oliver. And I see why he feels entitled to say something like that: Oliver is his child, too, and during the day I’m raising him. So yes, I should be more patient.

But truth is the perfect mum doesn’t exist.

Perfect mums the way I’ve seen them do lose their cool and then apologise. They say things they don’t mean, and then take the time to explain why they said what they said. They get frustrated, but manage to collect themselves in a split second. They cry silently when they’ve had too much, but keep playing and smiling in between the tears. They happily collect their kids from school every day, but when they have the opportunity to avoid it, they’ll take it. They’re understanding and patient, but don’t challenge them: they’ll let you know sometimes harshly when enough is enough. They buy groceries so the fridge is never empty, but they’ll defrost a piece of fish when they don’t feel like cooking and “this is what there is, feel free not to eat if you don’t want it”. They let their babies play on the not-so-clean Starbucks floor to enjoy their coffee and a good chat.

Perfect mothers are indeed imperfect.

As I know this, I shouldn’t have lost my cool with Alex this morning. Because when I look around, if there’s one thing I shouldn’t do is to complain about my husband. After all, even perfect husbands are imperfect.

How  do you see the perfect mum? Let me know in the comments


We share the same feelings, worries and tears, Carlotta, so it was nice reading your experience with Oliver in your blog. And even nicer, I admit, now that my first and only daughter is nearly 3 years old and I have much more time for myself than I have had in the last years.
They grow so quickly though....it seems like Yesterday when I used to tell to myself "I can't wait till she is one", then two...now I wish she were three forever! :)


Stefania, thanks for your lovely comment. I know the feeling very well, I'm thrilled about all the beautiful adventures that are awaiting us, but part of me wants time to slow down (big time!). I guess that feeling never goes away :-)

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Educating for the long term, Montessori, multilingualism, and full-time traveling life.