When You Feel Like A Big Fat Failure As A Working Mum

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.

Jessica Alba, perfect mum


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22 thoughts on “When You Feel Like A Big Fat Failure As A Working Mum

  1. Loved your new blog.

    So much truth here.

    Wonderful lifesaver suggestion -
    Pop a fresh sliced loaf in your freezer.
    Peel/prise slices off as you need them.
    I also stick stale last slices of loaves in the freezer for use in emergencies as well as nice fresh bread.

    Have even got your dad toasting frozen bread for himself

    Success! Instant breakfast or instant snacks….

    • Yes it can. It would be nice to manage to do it all, though, wouldn’t it? Although I have a sneaky suspicion that anyone who does manage it all is so exhausted, they’re not actually able to enjoy life.

  2. The very same scenario happened in our house the other morning. I felt awful as I offered my little lad some chunks of cheese whilst my other half ran to the shops!

    As I write this it’s 3.38am, I’m hanging of the edge of the bed with my little one’s foot in my back having spent the last three hours cleaning up his sick and soothing him back to sleep! I have to be up for work in 3 hours and I know I’m going to struggle through the day. That’s why I too can forgive myself for the lack of breakfast goods every now and then!

  3. Lovely post. Comparison is a dangerous thing. We will all come out looking rubbish! If that’s you you’re describing, you’re doing a far better job that I – keep it up!

  4. I go back to work soon and already know this will more than likely be a regular occurrence for me. It’s one of the reasons I’ve been dreading going back to work but knowing there is a few others out there doing it the same makes me feel better already! :) x

  5. It does make me smile when I think we posted on this topic on the same day – we must be very in-tune, like a working-mum menstrual cycle or something. I find it so hard. I hate myself some days. I hate that I can’t play with Wilbo all the time, and cuddle him close. I feel like I miss so much of the special stuff, but do so much more in other, less special areas. But at the end of the day, particularly at the end of every Friday, I sit down and feel proud. Because it’s not easy. Not just anyone could survive it. But we manage. And our children are happy. xx
    Charlotte – Write Like No One’s Watching recently posted…I Don’t Know How She Does It. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

  6. guilt – i hate it. i give myself a hard time about being a working mam. many a time i have been in work in tears because of the guilt – but we can’t afford me not to be in work. i was discussing winning the lottery with my husband yesterday and one of the things i said i would really look forward to if i didn’t have to work was being able to pick them up from school…and the nice, clean, awesome house too, obviously!
    mascara & mud recently posted…silent sunday. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

  7. I’m lucky enough to be a SAHM (although “lucky” isn’t precisely the word I’d use following days such as today but I digress…) so I don’t suffer the same pressures but having worked in the City for 10 years I know plenty of women who feel exactly like this & I don’t believe this perfect superwoman even exists. Give yourself a break & listen to your mother! ;-)
    Little Rascal Reviews recently posted…The Waiting Game. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

  8. Pingback: 3 Reasons My Blog Bloody Rocks - Not Another Mummy Blog | Not Another Mummy Blog

  9. I love this. Every mom, especially new moms needs to know that they don’t have to be perfect. A few years back (with 4 children), my husband and I decided to both go to nursing school. Everyone commends us for what we accomplished and they tell us what perfect parents we are. If they had only seen the mounds of laundry and dishes, or known about all the hot dog and potato chip dinners I served they may think differently. Great Read!

  10. We are all perfect mums to our own children as they dont know any different. I think us working mummies do a grand job, I am always running out of things but we inprovise in our house……cereal with yogurt anyone?? XX

  11. Yes, so true!! I gave up trying to be super mum and I’m enjoying my time with my 2nd kid so much more! Dirty house and laundry loads can wait… I’m a normal mum, not super mum :p
    Nueyer recently posted…Lovely Morning Walk. Why don’t you check it out?My Profile

  12. This really hit home! I’m a single Mum and often feel like a failure (compared to other Super Mums). I realized one day (just like you did) what’s really important – what really matters and that’s spending time with my daughter and helping her be the best person she can be and me too! Laundry and dishes can wait – you’re right! Love your Blog – thanks!

    • Yay! That’s exactly it. You’ll never look back at your life and wish you’d spent longer doing housework or planning outfits for the school run.

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