Posted by: eileenandrory | May 1, 2011

Taking off my panties

You know, I really wanted to be Super Mummy, you know the Perfect Mummy, the one who knew what to do and the one who baked everything and never used anything processed.  Not because that was necessarily perfect for me, but because it was perfect for my children.  So, I baked all the time and I made my own bread and I did my head in trying to do all of this, and volunteer, and work and do so so much more.

One day I found myself beside myself, looking outside and wondering how all these delusions came to be?  Why did I think that baking my own bread defined me as Super Mum?  Why did I think that my children would be any worse off for not having home baking (in fact they’re probably better off because I still refuse to buy biscuits and now they have to make do with fruit for sweets)?   Despite all my protestations that being a Super Mum was a myth, I had actually fallen for some of it.  I had faniced myself with a teensy bit of perfection and I had put on my super hero panties.

The thing is, that those Super Mum pants aren’t very comfortable, I mean, really, underpants are not designed to be worn on the outside and my spandex leggings were not allowing the comfort factor that wearing my panties on the inside would have afforded.   In fact I was downright itchy and although I thought I looked good, on the outside, on the inside unhealthy things were brewing.

Early this year I started back at University and quickly realised life had to change.  Either I had to sleep less or something had to give.  I quite like my sleep, and I get very very cranky if I don’t get enough sleep, so it was some of the things that made me “perfect” Mummy that had to give way.

  • No more home made bread – unless I really felt like it
  • Much less home baking
  • Horror, the floor is NOT vacuumed every night and sometimes it’s not even done every second night (I know, I know I hear some of you sigh, but this is a big one for me)
  • Sometimes my kids have tinned spaghetti for dinner.  On toast.  And that’s it.
  • I use the clothes drier a lot more than I used to.
  • I don’t hand make ALL of the decorations for my children’s birthday cakes.
I’m sure there are more, but I just can’t think of them right now.  Once I gave these up and embraced my study I realised a lot of other things too.  I don’t need to feel guilt about a heap of other things I don’t or did not do, I don’t need to hide them in an effort to be Super Mum.  And here is my list:
  • My son had a couple of bottles of formula when he was really little because I wasn’t coping.
  • I made my son cry it out when he was 9 months old because I wasn’t coping and he wasn’t sleeping because he had reflux.
  • I didn’t love my son when he was born, I did not have an instant attachment to him.  I fell in love with him later.
  • I fell in love with my daughter right away and then felt bad about the difference between that and my son’s birth.
  • I had post natal depression and I know what the statistics and studies tell me about the effect that that might have on my son.
  • Sometimes I have yelled and shouted at my kids.
  • Sometimes I have said things that I shouldn’t at my kids.  I have named them rather than the behaviour.
  • My son did not sleep in our room after the first night, I could not sleep with the noise from him snuffling.
  • I didn’t co-sleep with my son, and I certainly didn’t do it much with my daughter.
  • I have vaccinated my children, and I am informed about it.
  • Sometimes I punish my kids when my baser instincts get the better of me.
  • Sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I wasn’t a Mummy.
Now, that’s not a complete list, I am sure there are other things to add, but that’s a helluva lot of baggage to carry around with you when you’re flying around being Super Mum with itchy panties.  Too much baggage.  So what have I done with the baggage?  I’ve rationalised down.  I don’t carry these things around with me anymore.  I accept them, I accept sometimes that I will lose the plot with my kids, but I know that I will get better and I will grow from it.  I accept all the things I did “wrong” and in doing so I let myself be free of them.  They have helped inform me to be the parent I am today and help me to help other parents and to empathise with them when they are “in” those moments.
I felt something liberating going back to University.  I was doing something for ME.  Purely me, me FIRST.  Yes, my motivation is to go out and work in the community with my degree and to help parents and families become better at what they do, but the need for ME to do this is JUST as important as the need for me to work in the community, in fact it’s more important if I am truly honest with myself.
So, I’ve taken off the Super Mum panties and put them on the inside rather than the outside and they are far more comfortable.  The itch has gone and the spandex has been binned.
And you know what the funny thing is, I am perfectly me, and I am happy being imperfect.
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Responses

  1. Thank you for posting this! I accidentally stumbled upon it actually doing a google search for something completely different haha which is why I think this article “found me” on purpose! I found it to be extremely inspirational to hear another Mommy bluntly and in plain english, tackle the issue of the HUGE stressors involved with child rearing, especially from the view of a single mom. Thanks again- it gave me chills!! 🙂

  2. Thanks a lot, it felt good to write it, to get those sort of thoughts out there. Sometimes we hide too much and it’s refreshing to let it all hang out, every now and again!

  3. Love this post! So nice to hear someone talk about the pressure we place on ourselves as parents. I have pangs of guilt about what I haven’t done, but I realize that all kids want is for you to be there for them. It’s okay if the floor is dusty and dinner comes out of a box in the freezer once in a while, as long as you are there when they need you.

    • Thanks! It was a hard post to write, but so cathartic once done 🙂

  4. Love this post!
    I had a sudden realization a couple of months ago – would I rather my son remember an afternoon with:
    1. Grumpy mum vacuuming and cleaning and being boring and tetchy, BUT with a beautifully clean house; or
    2. Happy mum playing hide and seek and chasey all over a chaotic fun messy house.
    I decided to choose the latter. In my version of the ‘big things’ in life, it’s the things my child and I will reminisce over happily when we’re older.
    So my housewife panties are firmly and comfortably on the inside! 🙂
    One thing I have noticed – a number of friends have commented that they love coming to our chaotic place because it feels real and they don’t feel bad about the state of their place. If I ever start to stress about mess (what people might think about me etc), then I think of it as a social service – come hang at our place, you’ll realize yours isn’t quite so bad after all! : )

    • So, so true! Glad you’re part of the anti-super hero Mummy brigade! It’s liberating… in fact it has unintended side effects too, my hubby declared that he had to clean the toilets a while back because he didn’t think I cleaned them often enough. I happily gifted him the toilet brush and rubber gloves 🙂


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