I’ve been a mother for a little over 5 years now, and for the majority of that time, I felt like a fraud. There was a little monster on my shoulder whispering in my ear that actually, I was a Bad Mother, and one day everybody was going to find out.
I tried everything to shut that monster up. I tried homemade treats, visits to the park, I tried being strict, and being not so strict. I read blogs to remind myself that I was not alone. I remembered my own childhood, my own mother struggling against the odds, doing the best that she could. I spoke to my mum, I spoke to The Dude. I almost tried talking to people. But I could never silence the monster.
And then, we had the Little Adventure. In the space of a few weeks, I had a funny turn that has left me with a tiring heart problem, we had a meeting with Little Person’s teacher due to her insufficient progress at school, we started speech and language therapy. (SLT is not for the faint-hearted.) All followed by the birthday.
We booked a party at one of those soft play places, to start at 11.30. We ordered a cake with her name on it, to be delivered to our house at 10.30, so we could be out the door by 11 (it’s a 10 minute drive if there’s no traffic, and you don’t accidentally drive to your friends’ house first). Did I mention I’m a stickler for time?
10.30 – no cake.
10.45 – still no cake. And I realise that I have no contingency plan.
10.50 – still no cake, but I’m working out a plan. Everybody’s ready, The Dude and Little Person can go to the party place and I’ll rush off to the supermarket and buy a cake. Except I will need to put petrol in my car.
10.53 – still no cake. Also, may need to check I have money to buy petrol and cake.
10.55 – Cake arrives. The Dude deals with it. I’m putting my shoes on. Door slams as Cake Lady disappears.
10.56 – I realise that Little Person’s name has been misspelled, with an extra letter right in the middle. And Cake Lady is gone.
I fixed it. And we went to the party, and Little Person had a lovely time playing on the climbing frame, and hiding in the cinema room watching the television, and sometimes playing with her friends and sometimes completely ignoring her friends.
And somehow I realised that for all the times I felt that I wasn’t doing it right, I was. Because maybe Little Person is just a little quirky, and that means she needs a mum that’s just a little quirky. A mum like me.
And I haven’t heard from the Bad Mother Monster since.
This post is dedicated to all the mums with hearts that stretch a little wider to embrace lives that are a little different. You are the special ones, the brave ones. The ones that deserve all the kindness, love and chocolate the world can give. I don’t know how you do it, but I admire you because you stand up each morning, and try again.
And also to my mum, who continues to display the strength and courage that inspires me to stay true.