It’s 10.15pm on a Monday night. All is quiet in the Silver household. I’m exhausted. I’ve been steadily losing my voice for days now, all the while having to shout louder and louder because Midi Silver has lost his hearing. And while he struggles with an ear infection and I battle on with whatever bug he’s been kind enough to share, the Milk Man and his Daddy are so far blissfully avoiding the hideous illnesses, but they are having to put up with more than their fair share of my moaning in protest at being poorly. I’m a terrible patient. I demand attention. But I hate a fuss. I will not stand for no sympathy. But seriously, get out of my face. I’m a real life, snot filled, nightmare.
But, to be fair, I’ve got a lot on. I’ve not just got standard mumming to do. I’ve got supermumming to do. And not just supermumming. Oh no, I’ve got superwifing to do too. And superdaughtering. And superdaughterinlawing. And superfriending. And supersistering if I can. Hell, if I can’t be the best at everything I have ever signed up for, well, I may as well call it a day.
Now, clearly I’m not actually managing to be the best at anything today. The sweating, snotting, aching, coughing and moaning are making sure of that. But because of the incredible level of guilt I feel about letting anyone down, I’m a wobbly mess of anxiety about the fact that there are dishes in the sink and the washing basket is over-flowing. I’ve also not called my mum today. Nor did I send my sister a picture of either of her nephews. I might as well give up all hope of winning any awards for anything.
I just don’t understand how people do “it all”. How can anyone actually achieve anything once they have taken up mumming? And even if they do, do they not then drop the ball on the mumming? I’m back at work in less than 2 months and I can’t begin to imagine how that’s going to be possible. Yet, I’ve seen some of my very favourite and most respected mums return to work and continue to be wonderful parents. Some of them also still see their families, enjoy time with their husbands and even have friends. I genuinely believe that my return to work will mean that I’ll never see any of my friends ever again. And I only have about 3 of them anyway.
I just cannot fathom out how anyone copes. And what if, heaven forbid, I want to do more than cope? What if I’d like to be a well rounded and happy person? (Obviously there would be a great deal of work to get there regardless of any return to work, but you see what I’m saying!) Is it really ever possible to have a genuine balance once you have little people in your life? Or does being a parent mean always feeling like you’re not good enough at something.
When I was pregnant I suffered from pretty terrible depression. As the old cliché goes, I could barely get out of bed. But there again, I could barely stay in bed. Because the guilt I had about not being well enough to work was enormous. But I had to make a choice; be a half arsed step mum to my Brown Eyed Boy and a half arsed employee, meaning nobody got the best of me. Or; accept that I was not able to work for a while and be good at the step mum job. Thankfully, I opted for the latter. And through that, I managed to return to work after a month or so. If I’d have continued to try to do both, I’d probably have ended up fit for neither for much longer than that.
So is it just me that can’t cope? Am I destined for an easier life? Do my mind demons mean that it is impossible for me to excel at more than one thing at a time? Or are we all struggling a lot more than we let on? Well, let me tell you something…
The girl at work with the perfectly matching outfit, shiny hair, straight teeth and tan, who you know for a fact has a 2 year old at home? She’s struggling.
The handsome, suited and booted, “I’ve got my shit together” looking, BMW driving dude who overtook you on the way home? He’s struggling.
The mums in the baby and toddler group who shop at Boden and enjoy guffawing in Waitrose at jokes about aubergines? They’re bloody struggling too. (And I doubt they even like aubergines…because really, who does?)
Everyone is fighting their own fights. Battling their own demons. And wishing on every star they see. Because we all just want to be good enough. And not good enough for their partner, or their child, or their mum, or their siblings or friends. Good enough for themselves. To look in the mirror and think “I’m not a total waste of skin”.
But, do you know what? You’ll never be good enough for you. You might share some of those Facebook Memes that say you’re “done with haters” or “true to yourself”, and I dare say you are. But I know literally nobody who really believes they’re good enough. Everyone doubts themselves. Everyone sets their personal standards miles too high. Everyone fears being judged. But the truth is, other people are looking at you and going “holy shit, she’s totally rocking her life!” and “Christ, he always know what he’s doing.”
And those of you lucky enough to be parents, step parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, honorary aunts and uncles or just plain know a little person, well, you’re admired. Because to them, you are good enough. Better than that. You’re amazing. You can rub your tummy and pat your head at the same time. You can spell hippopotamus. You can pour milk without spilling. You can say your alphabet, drive a car, eat sweeties whenever you like. You can blow raspberries, roll your tongue, touch the cooker. You tie your own laces, reach the top shelf, know how to spread butter on bread.
But more than that, you’re so good at all those things (and millions more) that you take them completely for granted. Which means you are incredible. And, let’s face it…they’re probably right.