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Sam, Henry and I spent last weekend in Canberra which is just under a 3 hour drive from our home. On the return drive, Sam suggested that I message my best friend to see if she and her husband were home and up for a visit. They’ve just moved back to NSW after spending 5 years in Western Australia and we were going to be driving right past their home. You’d think I’d have jumped at the chance to message. But I didn’t.
Instead, I said something like “yeah we could do that.” A couple of minutes passed and Sam asked if I’d messaged yet. I hadn’t. He then said “you’re not good with spontaneity, are you my love?” Challenge accepted, I thought, and I sent the message. It’s not that I didn’t want to see them – I always do – it’s that I wasn’t prepared for the change in plans.
The truth is I’m not spontaneous. Sam knows I’m not. I know I’m not. Yet I got offended when he made the comment. Whenever conversations about spontaneity have come up in the past, I’ve always been left feeling like I need to change and be more like the kind of people who do things on a whim.
That’s just not who I am though. I’m a planner. I’m a details person. I like knowing what to expect. I like advanced warning. Are there situations where I’m not like this? Absolutely! There are many times where I’ve not only been spontaneous, but initiated the spontaneity. And some of my most treasured memories have come from those moments. It’s just not who I am most of the time.
In processing this, I’ve come to understand how damaging it can for mums who constantly feel pressure to change and be a ‘different kind of mum.’ There are mums who look at people like me and feel pressure to be more organised. There are ‘routine-focused’ mums who feel pressure to be more flexible. There are ‘lenient’ mums who feel pressure to be stricter. There are working mums who feel pressure to be more ‘available’ mums. Don’t even get me started on the pressure mums feel to get their pre-baby bodies back.
It’s natural to compare ourselves to others. We all do it. But we need to realise that when we do compare ourselves to others, what we’re doing is disregarding the things – the good, the bad and the neutral - that have led us to being the people that we are, and as a result, the mothers that we are.
Theodore Roosevelt said that “comparison is the thief of joy.” This is so true in many situations, especially when it comes to motherhood. From yesterday, I’ve learned that just because you’d like to ‘be’ more of one thing doesn’t mean that the value of what you currently are is any less. Would I like to be more spontaneous? Yes I would, but the absence of constant spontaneity doesn’t take away from the fact I’m a great mum.
I’m a great mum because of all of the amazing qualities that I have – some which are shared in spades by other mums and some which aren’t. I’m a great mum because I’m aware that I have weaknesses but don’t let them dictate my perceptions of myself. I’m a great mum because I accept and embrace that I’m ever-evolving - that my husband, my child and the village that surrounds is too. I’m a great mum because I am to my children what no one else can be.
Mums who are reading this, know that you are great - warts and all.