This morning, I was brushing my teeth when my husband pointed out that we had no fresh milk or any of the toddler’s favourite breakfast cereal. Or bread. So basically we had no breakfast food, and we would have to send our child off to nursery for the day, hungry (she does get breakfast when she arrives, but having an appetite as large as Harry Styles’ bouffant, she usually has two breakfasts).
This thought was enough to make me come to the conclusion that I’m failing as a working mum. I spent my journey to work feeling thoroughly rotten. Why couldn’t I cope like all the other working mums? How do they manage to do it all? They manage to be brilliant at their jobs, have glossy hair, painted nails, and perfectly ironed clothes. They have tidy homes, stocked cupboards, a clean kitchen, and made-beds. They cook amazing meals from scratch every night. They create nature trails for their children, build dens, make paper-mache masks, teach their children French and bake cupcakes with them. They go to Zumba, take the dog for a walk and have a passion for Bikram yoga.
“You know those mums who just seem to be able to do it all?” I asked my wise colleague, later in the day. “You know, the ones who are amazing at everything.”
“Who?” she asked me. “Who is this mum that you’re thinking of?”
And it struck me that I couldn’t actually think of who I meant. I’d been pretty sure I was thinking of a fair few particular mums, but in that moment, I couldn’t name one. I know mums who do one or two, or perhaps even three of my “perfect mum” list, but I couldn’t name one mum who does it all. I realised I’ve been comparing myself to every single other mum combined. How am I ever going to achieve being like every single other mum combined? It’s like a child being expected to be as talented or intelligent as every kid in his or her class combined. We would never ask that of a child, so why was I asking it of myself?
I’m the mum who sings endless nursery rhymes, gives really good tickles and draws snowmen on demand. The mum who has taught her toddler to count up to 14, and recognise the letter C (“curly cuh”). The mum who tucks her little girl into bed every night, after reading the same two Peppa Pig books. The mum whose toddler described as her best friend the other night.
That’s good enough for me. The grocery shopping can wait.