The Imperfect Parents Club

Home / The Imperfect Parents Club - July 12, 2015 , by yvettelamb

I snapped at you today. A few times actually – in the space of ten minutes – do you remember? I hope not. You were eating lunch and I had a work email I had to respond to quickly. I needed to concentrate whereas you needed to rub yoghurt in your hair and shout repeatedly that your hands were mucky.

It isn’t your fault that I’m trying to build my work around building you. It’s not your problem that we’re currently attempting this without childcare and that there aren’t usually enough naps, evenings or spare moments for me to do what I need to do. But then, I guess it isn’t my fault either. It’s not bad that I am reaching to create something that – hopefully – will support our family life as you grow, and allow me to carve something for me, and for all of us.

But back to the snapping: I was having trouble with an attachment so everything took longer to complete than I envisioned. You were understandably bored and I was frustrated that, despite claims to the contrary, humans couldn’t do it all and then some, whilst remaining functioning and unflustered. I had forgot to put the washing on, and wasn’t I meant to have prepped dinner whilst you ate actually? Oh and during nap time I needed to pay that bill, tidy up and fill the paddling pool so we could have fun with our visitors later; but then I hadn’t worked on my book in weeks and there was so much other stuff knocking uselessly around my head.

You see it all comes from trying to make things perfect, to squeeze it all in so that everything is just right – but the irony is it only causes me to feel stressed and behave in a way that just doesn’t meet my lofty standards of motherhood.

Anyway, I dusted you down and bemoaned the mess in your hair and heaved a sigh when you said you didn’t want to go bed (let’s be honest though – we both know you needed it). I wanted to keep on schedule so you didn’t nap late and cause bed time to suck, whereas you wanted to play on the stairs, dawdling and pretending each bannister spoke was Stick Man in need of a drink of milk.  For the second time, our aims and objectives weren’t quite meshing, and despite your display of perfect toddler adorableness – which I should always appreciate because don’t you know it goes so fast – my patience snapped again and so did I.

You weren’t being wrong though, you were being two. And as you happily mimicked me, ‘Hurry up! Come on now! Bed time!’ I felt better that you weren’t upset, and worse for hearing my stern words chanted back. We made it upstairs in the end of course, and now you are in your cot, sleeping through the heat and hopefully dreaming contentedly.

I’m really skilled at focussing on the things I get wrong with you; I don’t forget any of it. I lay beside your cot just now and felt a bit like crying, not just because I snapped, but also because I was tired and I sometimes feel like I will never get the hang of juggling; of holding it all together.

But then I thought – for once – about the other stuff I do, the bits I never think about – the good stuff. Like nipping back home this morning, even though we were running late, to retrieve the much-loved soft toy you dance with at music group. Or waiting for the bin lorry before lunch – our weekly ritual with the kind men who are always so friendly to you as you yell ‘Hello! Dirty nappies!’ from the pavement – waving and smiling like you might explode.

There’s the Little Peter Rabbit song I sang over and over today as we queued in traffic, obliging each time you demanded, ‘A bit more.’ And the hundreds of times I hold your hand as you navigate the climbing frame, wanting to be big, needing to be reassured:

‘Me do it, Mummy help.’

‘You can do it, but Mummy’s right here’ Always.

There is all of this and more, so many little but important things I do well, that mean you are happy and show you you’re loved.
It’s enough for you, and it needs to be enough for me, too.

I’m sure as you grow, there will be even more things I get wrong; decisions I will question myself over, reactions I won’t like. But, you know… so what? I’m fallible, I’m going to make mistakes – it’s how you will learn things my little one – and it’s how I learn things, too.

And perhaps in being less than brilliant sometimes, I am helping, not hindering you. If I’m inconsistent, I’m only reflecting others experiences you will have throughout your life – people rarely stay the same; and if I show you that I’m not perfect – well good. I don’t want you to grow up feeling you should do more to measure up – living like that is exhausting – believe me, I know.

I don’t know what you thought of as you drifted off to sleep just now; whether it was me temporarily losing my sense of humour, or spinning until we were dizzy this morning, or just of my hand laid gently on you as you closed your eyes. Maybe it was something completely random like an elephant going down a slide (yep, we discussed that earlier).

Whatever it was, I hope you felt loved little boy, because you are. You’re loved so perfectly, in this imperfect world, by your imperfect mum.

imperfect parents club

So for anyone less than perfect – let’s try to remember that who we are and what we do is enough – we are enough for our children and should be enough for ourselves.

Feel free to join me and other imperfect parents on my FACEBOOK page – membership is now open to this very exclusive club…
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20 thoughts on “The Imperfect Parents Club”

  1. Claire says:

    Love this. It sums up our household exactly 🙂 x

    1. Yvette Lamb says:

      Ah thanks Claire, it’s always good to know we’re not alone! Welcome to the club 🙂 x

  2. Molly says:

    You are not alone! Gosh this is me most days. In fact, today at tea time I was racing to catch up after the baby refused a second nap of the day and my computer decided to die on me. I shouted “SHIT!” at it and got promptly told off by my 5 year old for “using a naughty word Mummy”. Life as a work from home mum is HARD.

    1. Yvette Lamb says:

      Thanks Molly – you’re right. I often don’t acknowledge it because I feel lucky to still be able to be at home for the most part with my son, but it isn’t easy trying to be two people at the same time is it? Give yourself points for your daughter telling you off rather than shouting it back – at least you’ve taught her it’s ‘naughty’ (I don’t think it’s naughty by the way… nothing like a good old shout of SHIT to release the tension!)

  3. Cat says:

    I absolutely love this. I have two little ones now and am constantly battling with my own inner self as I snap, loose patience and my sense of humour. Being all things to these little people we love infinitely is almost impossible – particularly when trying to juggle work, life, hobbies (respite). They don’t understand this, why should they?
    I wrote a post on a similar vein to this quite recently (although not so good – damn it!) – as I do lay in bed thinking about it most nights, Hence the wine.

    Cat

    http://www.breedandwrite.co.uk

    1. Yvette Lamb says:

      Thanks Cat – just found your post – I love it. It seems we’re not alone with this regret / beating ourselves up business. I think – as hard as we try – sometimes a balance just isn’t obtainable, we’re going to drop some balls or dip beneath the water at times. I just need to work on dropping the ‘I must never go wrong’ crap – totally unachievable – and unnecessary x

  4. Adrian says:

    Lovely thoughtful post. It’s impossible to be perfect and so is trying to work from home with a toddler. It sounds like you’re doing more than your best. Give yourself a break. I don’t mean an actual break. Ha! As if! I mean don’t beat yourself up about little things. And focus on the big things you’re getting right.

    1. Yvette Lamb says:

      Thanks Adrian. Ha at a break! You’re so right. Will definitely try harder to celebrate the good and forget about the unimportant bits. Cheers 🙂

  5. Ah lovely post but I agree with all of the above it is impossible to get it right all the time, but a great Mum always questions herself and you sound like an amazing Mum x

    1. Yvette Lamb says:

      Thanks so much Sarah, that’s a really kind and touching comment. Definitely better to accept we are going to make mistakes, rather than beating ourselves up over them. We are our own worst judges!

  6. Louise says:

    Such a heartfelt and honest post and one which definitely resonates with me. It is hard not to lose our patience at times and I think we all beat ourselves up a little when we do so, but we are human and imperfect. Your love for your son shines through this post and I have no doubt that even though you do snap at times (as do we all) that your son knows he is loved x

    1. Yvette Lamb says:

      Awe thanks Louise, that made me well-up (in a nice way). It’s definitely fine not to be perfect, but sometimes so hard to accept that in ourselves. Mum guilt eh?! But it’s really nice to know that others can realte too x

  7. A really heartfelt post and very honest too x

  8. Aw I so needed to read this! I snapped at my little one earlier and felt so terrible after. Glad to know I’m not alone and that good mums do it too!

    1. Yvette Lamb says:

      We definitely all do! I guess the sign we feel bad is a sign we are good mums, but there’s nobody more judgemental than ourselves is there!

  9. Zara says:

    I feel like you have perfectly written my days sometimes. I often feel like I haven’t got the balance right at all. Will they still know I love them if I spend an extra 30 minutes working? They will, and after they have gone to bed I realise that. The guilt at the time is horrendous though. I am so glad to have found this post!!

    1. Yvette Lamb says:

      Oh thanks so much, what a lovely comment. I’ve been really overwhelmed by how supportive people have been with this post – just shows how everyone experiences this and that we should all cut ourselves some slack. I don’t actually know if this elusive balance we’re all after really exists?!

  10. Sarah Matheson says:

    Thank you so much for this. It’s made me feel so much better this morning as my 11 month old sleeps soundly in my bed…he wasn’t well the last week and we caved at 4ish in the morning several days and let him into our bed. Now he’s better but waking up and staying awake I think with the realisation that if he’s loud enough for long enough and keeps sitting up we’ll give up and let him in. I feel like I’ve failed, I also feel very tired and my hair is messy from him tangling his fingers in it. But you’re right he’s probably very happy and feels loved. So hopefully one night again soon he will spend a whole night in his cot and I will get a whole night of sleep.

    1. Yvette Lamb says:

      Thanks Sarah. It’s so hard not to beat ourselves up isn’t it? But when I step back and look at things objectively (or try to!) it seems ridiculous that we hold ourselves up to such silly high standards as we are only human, doing our best, often under SO much pressure. You’re doing brilliantly, we all are, even if we can’t see it sometimes x

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