I used to be a good mum.
When I had just one child, I had a cleaner for 4 hours, once a week. I had a full time live in nanny. I was even at home with a nanny-mum overlap of over 4 months! I had schedules and lists on the kitchen utility room wall of his routine, his carefully planned healthful meal schedule, his range of activities and outings and how to get there; the ideal amount of time spent there. TV was available 'as a treat' only, 30 minutes once a week. No sugary biscuits, no candy, no chocolate - just wholesome baby biscuits with extra vitamins, fresh fruit, and yogurt. His yogurt was the expensive Total Greek yogurt, mixed with fresh fruit puree made at home. His morning cereals had omega oils mixed in, and ABIDEC vitamin potion. His sleeping bag was washed twice a week, and bed sheet changed once a week. Bottles were sterilized until he was at least 14 months old, and his water boiled even longer. His tray was sterile wiped after each meal, and taken off and washed at least once a day.
Sorry, let me change that. I used to be a 'good' mum.
God what a crazy lady I am! In my life, through my life, I have tended to quest for perfection. I always actually wanted or expected 100% on my tests and exams. I wanted to be able to do anything, and be the best or at least almost the best at it. If it was a pretty far fetched goal, I'd at minimum expect myself to be able to get into it, get to do it, be accepted at it. Get away with it. In university and just after university, I fancied myself a sort of Forrest Gump; in that I could seemingly fumble my way into anything, meeting one different situation/opportunity/challenge after another, no matter how unrelated, no matter how inexperienced along the traditional pathway to get there, and pull it off. Why? I need a psychologist in the audience to answer that one. Insecure? Requiring external acceptance for 'being' remarkable? Too much energy? Too much positive feedback and reward for being 'keen' 'enthusiastic' and 'different'? Never feeling accepted in groups and needing to 'prove' myself to the world? "Look at me, look what I can do, la la la la, wow what will I do NEXT!!!"
Mercifully, I have grown up since then. I had ended up doing some pretty wiggity-whack things in my time. Exciting time, that was. And you know what? I DID get away with it. I did do all those things. I did swerve left right up down, made it 'in'. I got 100%. People WERE surprised at what I did 'next'. It was also, in retrospect, a humbling time. In my misguided enthusiasm I know I stomped on a few toes...not full-on foot or head stomping (I'm not an evil crazy lady, just a crazy lady) but I am humbled by the loyalty my friends have shown me, and I am wizened by the non-loyalty my non-friends have shown me. I do feel genuinely sorry for those who got stomped. What a bum. I also learned that being me, whatever my personality is or isn't, is polarizing. I was either really really loved, or despised. Hopefully in my grown up state of self I am a bit more on the loveable side.
Although I have grown up, I clearly, two years ago at least, had a way to go. I appear to have placed my quest for perfection efforts on my poor son. I have to assume now that healthy yogurt and no chocolate won't scar him for life (but you never know). And lucky for him, something has knocked me down to size, bumped me from any pedestal, no matter how shrunken it was. That something is Motherhood. I've been bested by mother nature herself! My situation now is further evidence of my lack of control now over my life. Anything can happen! Unplanned things! Unschemed things! Things I don't know what to do next about!
Over the last couple of years, as Motherhood seems to have been winning, en garde! and I have fallen ever so steadily behind in the control of my environment, my children, my life, it has come to this. I have a new 'blind eye' policy I have made to myself, as I just cannot face it sometimes. There are really big entanglements of cobwebs on the Artex on the ceiling, and in the cornice mouldings - probably helping to hold it together, as there are huge cracks on them, and between the ceiling. In the garage there is a resident spider, quite a big fella, whose home is suspended between the dryer and the freezer, whom I face at least once a day. On top of the garage freezer is an very huge collection of tiny bug dead bodies, which I also ignore. There is a grit, like an overspilled sand pit style grit, through the front hall that my slippers grit about on. I wipe the bottom of my slippers on the leg of my jeans as I leave the hall, and move on.
The children's sheets get removed and washed when a magic combination occurs of me thinking of it, and me actually doing it. My youngest son has his tray wiped with a regular cloth, and very rarely removed and/or sterilized. He also got unsterilized bottles and tap water from about 10 months old. They eat Petite Filous and Munch Bunch and Little Stars yogurts. My oldest son has even had chocolate Oreo cookies. After their supper tonight they watched not one but three shows, two Thomas and Friends, and one Postman Pat: SDS. I found a little stone in the washing machine, and I picked it out, and threw it on the carpet by the back door. OK fine, then I thought about it and picked it up and put it in the bin. Some old habits die hard. I do have a cleaner, but she comes every other week, for 3 hours. Sometimes even just 2.
My kids both go to nursery, 4 days a week. Two of the days they even have to have breakfast there, and are dropped off at 7:45 am, and I can only get to them again at 5:45, and I fear in the future as the weather and driving get worse, 6 pm, later? Two of the days, at least, I work from home, and they can eat at home and play a bit first, then get dropped at 9 am and retrieved at 5 pm. Am I guilt-ridden? Extremely. Am I broke right now? Yes. Do I have to be a working mum? Yes. Do I have to send them to nursery? Yes. Do I not have time/energy/home skills to keep on top of every blinking job in this house? Yes. Will the kids survive anyway and end up being balanced, kind, clever individuals? I'd like to say yes, I'd hope for yes. So OK, I'm OK with that.
Fine, I'm not a 'good' mum anymore. Not to be cliche, but, oh go on then, I'm a Great Mum. We all have a cuddle at the end of the day, I am there for them when they need me, and I still have 3 days a week to guide them emotionally and behaviourally...they don't care about my cracked up ceilings and sandy floor and cobwebby corners. Petite Filous aren't so bad, either. I'm doing the best I can now, and that's just fine.