When I was younger, much younger, early 20’s say. I used to look at Mums with young children walking down the road, mostly in horror.
It just looked an awful thing, the Mum always looked harassed, tired and unkempt. It didn’t look enjoyable at all, in fact, it looked miserable.
I made up my mind then that I didn’t ever want to be that person (I know, I know….)
*10 year’s pass*……..
Now that I have unavoidably been that person and still am now (thankfully slightly less tired & unkempt) to a toddler and a nearly-at-schooler, I naturally feel quite differently about the scenario.
I know these people now, we are in the same big tribe. I know we shouldn’t feel bad, embarrassed or sorry for them because the majority of them are ok (most of the time). They’re OK with sometimes looking a bit ropey, not having time to brush their hair or the mental ability to coordinate their clothes. Because they managed to get their sh*t together enough to leave the house this morning and get fresh air, they managed to pick up a few bits from the shop and they managed to deliver an older sibling to school on time. I now know how much of a big deal this is and that levels of achievement and measures of success are set only by you and vary greatly depending on where you are in your life.
And although back then, I walked around the corner thanking the Lord I wasn’t them and their life wasn’t mine, when I turned my back, I now know what I missed:
- I missed the mum with the newborn, leaning into the pram and smiling adoringly at her peacefully sleeping baby (finally). She still can’t believe that she created this whole new person, nurtured them and brought them into the world. And although she cannot find the words to tell you how tired she is, she also cannot describe how much in love she is with this tiny human being. A love like she has never felt before.
- I missed the mum with the toddler, who after having a meltdown in the middle of the street about wearing socks, took his Mums’ hand and started to sing. They sing Twinkle Twinkle together as they walk down the road and they don’t care who hears them. They do the diamond shape with their fingers and giggle at each other. Her annoyance about the irrational sock incident has melted away.
- I missed the mum dropping her daughter off at the school gates. Who catches sight of a friendly smile through the crowd and although the friend has to get to work, she stays for 5 minutes to chat because she knows that 5 minutes of adult conversation is what her friend needs today. A caring and encouraging embrace means more than any on-looker could imagine.
For my younger self and other onlookers, these moments, these small moments, that often go unseen, are enough to get her through the day. Enough to power her to bedtime when she can finally have half an hour to herself.
I’m not implying that Motherhood is some kind of idyllic fairytale and your children look like they stepped out of a Benetton catalogue, because quite clearly it’s not.
Motherhood is messy, smelly, relentless, frustrating and tiring. It doesn’t care that you put on nice clothes this morning and now they are covered in unmentionable gunk or that everything you had on your To-Do List for the day has gone to sh*t by 11am.
BUT, it is also full of love, cuddles, pride and laughter. It can draw a day-rescuing smile at any unexpected moment and the strength of love you feel as a parent is really quite extraordinary. A love that can forgive the most ridiculous of misdemeanor in a second, can increase your embarrassment threshold to level – ‘Unbelievable’ (the equivalent of – ‘Bearly Acceptable’ to normal people) and a love that means, on most occasions, there is just enough good in every day to get you to the end and then recharge, before you have to do it all over again!