Yesterday was Mothering Sunday. I was lucky enough to spend the day with my little girl and I’ve been thinking about all the amazing things we’ve done together since she was born. But all roles have their highlights, yeah? And in life, everyone has some things they are better at than others.
So, today after a weekend of seeing the best bits of motherhood celebrated on social media, I’m sharing a few words about the Mum things I’m actually surprisingly shit at. I’m a little embarrassed to admit that some of these are absolute mum fundamentals that I probably should have got a grip on now. But maybe, just maybe, these are some things you struggle with too?
1) Making Mum Friends
We didn’t have any NCT classes close by when I was pregnant so I didn’t get that chance to bond with a group of mummy friends before baby arrived. No biggie, there’d be a chance at baby classes, or so I thought. For various unforeseeable reasons, baby classes have never really been a relaxing social occasion for us.
My daughter had terrible reflux as a baby. This was caused by her CMPA (cow’s milk protein allergy). Other mums weren’t so keen on sitting next to what amounted to a ticking vomit time bomb that spent a good chunk of each class chucking up and screaming. Also, even with five or more outfit changes for both of us each day, it’s hard to rid yourself completely of that sour milk smell.
My Mama Bear behaviour undoubtedly played a part too. As an allergy mum, you’re continuously on high alert for potential contaminants that could cause a reaction in your child. So when little Ava decided to decorate the floor with bits of Wotsit during rhyme class, I had to raise my objections pretty loud and fast. I kept it polite, obviously but there’s a good chance my exact thoughts were written on my face. My eyes and frown probably said: “Seriously Susan, does your 4-month old really need to eat that crap right now?” Not a great ice breaker.
2) Smiling at Soft Play
I’m under no illusions that every mum likes climbing up and down brightly coloured PVC covered foam stairs or wading through balls covered in snot and bits of sodding Wotsits. Although, I do have a friend who seriously suggested that an adult only soft play would make a good night out. I’m not going to tell her she’s wrong because I clearly need all the mum friends I can get and actually, I find her enthusiasm pretty admirable. But the truth is I really struggle to even pretend to like soft play.
Soft plays are always set up in some freezing cold former warehouse on an industrial estate in the middle of nowhere. The cafes never cater for allergies and I feel like all eyes are on me as I take the oat milk out of my bag to add to my much needed coffee. Even though my now 2.5 year old is most of the way up the milk ladder, I still get annoyed when I see kids smearing food everywhere. And no matter how many times I wash our hands after we’ve been, we always end up with an awful 24-hour bug or a cold after a soft play visit.
If I’m honest, I just don’t think soft play is for me. I didn’t really enjoy it as a kid either. I’d rather go for a picnic outdoors in the rain. But naturally, my little girl loves soft play and so I’ll continue to go and plaster the world’s worst fake smile on my face.
3) Keeping it Chill While Crafting
I like to think of myself as a creative person. I’ve got a couple of GCSEs in cut and stick (art and textiles) and I absolutely love the idea of making things with my little girl. I want to encourage her to explore her imagination. We bake together often with minimal stress (even if she only eats the icing). But when it comes to crafts, the reality is never as good as the expectation.
Even with wipe clean mats and aprons firmly in place, I still freak out about the mess. In my defence, it’s actually pretty tricky to get glitter glue out of hair. I hate the feel of dried out play dough and I’d really much prefer it if we could keep all the paint colours nice and separate, please. But my little artist loves to make a mess. That is as long as it doesn’t get on her hands, because apparently messy hands are a real no-no. Crafting therefore requires me to clean her hands every few minutes if they get dirty. Okay, just pass me the glitter.
4) Pelvic Floor Procrastinating
I dropped the ball with this one early on in motherhood and I’ve lived to regret it ever since. I listened intently at pregnancy pilates as my class teacher told me all about the importance of strengthening my pelvic floor. Silently, I committed to protecting my pelvic strength. I did the exercises up until birth and had every intention of keeping up with it postpartum. Then I gave birth to a gorgeous baby girl who came complete with tongue-tie and allergies. I was soon drowning in a never-ending stream of sick and mucous poo. I didn’t sleep, I barely managed to clean my teeth or brush my hair and I naturally forgot all about doing my fanny exercises at the most vital time. I’m trying to make up for this now but things like Sassy Salsa class and sneezing are more of a challenge.
Pouring into My Own Glass
I’m an organised person. I love to know what’s coming next and I live for productivity. But continually trying to juggle every plate in the goddamn kitchen just doesn’t leave a lot of time to look after me. From the moment I gave birth, well-meaning folk have told me to ‘make sure I look after myself too’ or to ‘sleep when baby sleeps’. This is all sounds smashing. But with a partner who works 60-hour plus weeks and a colicky baby who morphed into a very active toddler that still insists we start the day at 5am (which is really 4am thanks to the clocks going back), I hate to bloody admit it but there’s not an organisational trick that can help.
All the lists, menu plans and phone reminders in the world can’t help me to create extra time for myself. I miss reading books (that aren’t about BLW or potty training), I’d love to watch a murder mystery on TV and I’m well overdue another visit to a Sassy Salsa class to test my pelvic floor progress.
I hear that you can’t pour from an empty glass, I get it I really do. But when I do try and take time for myself I get sucked into one of the ‘mum’ things I seem to have absolutely nailed – mum guilt. I’ve got this part down so good that scheduling me time even on the rare occasions it’s possible makes me feel like I should be doing something else instead. And of all the mum things I’m shit at, it’s this one thing that I’d really like to change.
What mum things are you a bit crap at? Do you always miss the welcome song at baby classes or do you dread putting your little one in the car seat? Have you discovered the illusive secret to making self care a priority or can you relate to the heart-stopping fear of seeing a stray Wotsit? Let us know what your mama struggles are by leaving a comment below.