Recently, on a trip out into town, I was stopped by a lady who appeared to be in her late 30s or early 40s to tell me how beautiful my girls are. However, she didn't stop there. The comments that followed are the reason why I decided to write this post.
Dear Stranger on the Street,
Thank you for telling me how beautiful my children are, however biased my views of them may be, I can't say I disagree. My husband and I do create gorgeous children. I feel slightly proud that I gave birth to these two mini humans, who, despite being chalk and cheese, are both stunning, and wonderful in their individuality.
When you asked me if I am a full-time mum I was pleased to reply that I am.
I love that as well as holding the titles of wife, daughter, sister and many others, I find myself most strongly defined by being a 'mama'. Of course, I do other things too including writing here on my blog and (although I'm currently on maternity leave) I also run my business, Mama Naii's Crochet. Before all of that, I make sure that our lives are as simple as possible - from making sure the washing is done so we all have clean clothes to wear to getting what we need from the local supermarket so that my hubby can have packed lunches, and we can have healthy meals.
When you commented on how lucky I am to be a stay-at-home mum, it wasn't so bad, because I am lucky. I am thankful everyday that I have a husband in a stable job, who is able to provide for us. I am also grateful beyond measure that he supported my decision to want to stay home and raise our children.
When you commented on how wonderful I looked, and how nice it must be to have it all together, I wanted to laugh. Thankfully I didn't; I just smiled and thanked you.
I want you to know that you simply saw a snapshot of my life. That snapshot was a pretty good one too. You caught me in one of those rare moments when I had a sleeping baby tucked against my chest in a sling, and a smiling toddler sitting sweetly in her pushchair. You saw me on a day I'd made an effort to do something other than a mum-bun with my hair, and had managed to put some make-up on my face.
I can promise you one thing though - every day is different, and more often than not I am not as together as you thought I was when you saw me.
What you didn't know was that I had been up since five o'clock that morning with a cluster feeding and super clingy baby, and an under-the-weather toddler who woke up earlier than normal screaming for me. What you weren't around to witness was my toddler threw her cereal on the floor because it wasn't the one she wanted, and minutes later my baby projectile weed all over the sofa where I was lazily changing her because it was quicker and easier than going upstairs to the changing station, or getting out the travel changing mat.
There are some days which I manage to shower, make myself up, get a tonne of housework done, and make wonderful homemade meals from scratch. Other days I feel like I have won the lottery if I manage to get dressed in the morning and cover the massive dark bags under my eyes with a small layer of concealer and foundation. Being a mama to two is one of the most exciting, wonderful and completely exhausting experiences I have ever come across.
The reality is, I am far from having it all together.
My children may have seemed near perfect when you saw them, but I have to deal with my fair share of toddler tantrums and times when I have an inconsolable, screaming baby. Those early days of being a solo parent for up to twelve hours of the day were far from easy. Even now, two months on, I am still learning how to balance life as a housewife and mama to two. There have been days that I have had complete meltdowns. I have rung my husband in floods of tears on more than one occasion when I have felt at my wits end.
I have good days, and I have days when I spend most of the day waiting for it to end and start a new one. I have days when I feel like a supermum and days when I feel like a failure. I'm not perfect, but I am doing my best; and that's all anyone can do as a parent. Whether I have it together or not, as long as my girls are healthy, happy and loved, that is all I need to know that I am doing it right.
To you, the woman who thinks I have it all together... I totally don't, but thanks for the compliment.
To you, the parent who worries that you aren't doing a good enough job... We all feel like that sometimes, but if you're doing your best, that is good enough.
To you, the person who judges themselves by how another parent appears on social media or in the brief moment you see them at the school gates... Stop. What you are seeing is only a snapshot, just like that lady I met saw of me.