Essentially life is one big competition (it shouldn’t be, but it is!). From the day you step foot over the threshold of a school you’re being pitted against your peers to see who comes out on top. You spend your life aiming to be ‘the one’ – the one who gets 100 per cent on the test, the one who gets a first at university, the one who breaks all targets and records at work, the one who runs the fastest, the one who jumps the highest. But I feel nowhere in life are women pitted more ferociously against each other than when they become mothers.
I’d like to make it clear I am not at all talking about my mommy friends who are all lovely and supportive before anyone starts feeling paranoid! But I feel having taken up the role of ‘mother’ a year ago (because it does start the second you announce you’re pregnant), every tiny thing has suddenly become a competition. It seems like we have to compete to have the ‘best’ baby. Oh my baby slept a trillion hours last night, my baby actually crawled out of the womb it’s so advanced, my baby was doing trigonometry and reciting Shakespeare plays in their entirety from a week old.
Well guess what, no matter how fancy you think your baby is I guarantee you’re still spending most your days wiping its sick and poo. Fact. No matter how amazing you’re trying to convince everyone else your baby is, I guarantee you’ve sat crying at least once with a mixture of dribble/vomit/other bodily fluids in your hair wondering why the hell you thought parenthood would be such a blast.
Cause I’ll let you into a secret, I REALLY like my child. Honestly, she’s pretty immense. I get all the feels when I think about how much I love her. 99 per cent of the time she sleeps through the night, only cries when she’s hungry or tired, will settle for anyone without fussing and smiles and giggles constantly. But it’s still hard work! I spend my whole day trying to remember to take 57 gazillion things with us when we go out, there’s the endless routine of ‘feed baby, change baby, entertain baby’. If anyone asks, I will tell them that Alexandra’s a fantastic baby and we’re very lucky she is golden. Other people praise her endlessly. But I don’t feel the need to wear a massive badge saying ‘world’s best mother’. Cause you know what, it’s pretty much diddly squat to do with me! (The kid doesn’t even look like me! I basically just carried her round for a few months and now feed her while her daddy’s at work – I know my place in life!) At this stage it’s largely down to luck! Luckily I’ve passed on my love of sleep to our tot, she had to be babysat by anyone and everyone (think the postman had a turn one day!) when I was in hospital and Dylan needed to be by my bedside, she has a lovely temperament. All pure chance and luck, not because I’m playing Mozart and reading Dickens to her every night (I can’t even remember any nursery rhymes so I generally sing 90s indie music to her, what a joy!).
I realise I’m very lucky but I really don’t feel the need to brag about it, I’m only sharing this all now because I’m on a right rant about rivelry! When I hear of someone struggling to settle their baby, I might try and give them tips if I’ve found something particularly useful, but some people seem to think it’s fine to brag about how their child can recite the entire encylopedia and founded Google.
So my plea is: mothers, why not be kind to each other! Pass the tissues to mothers you meet who are struggling and try and support them a little. No one cares that your baby knows pi to the 100th decimal place or can juggle knives while fire-eating. No one wants to hear you brag about your ‘perfect’ life because you’re not fooling yourself or anyone else!
Harriet and Alexandra x