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We’ve all seen the Perfect Mummies, haven’t we? The ones with the impeccably blow-dried hair, and glowing ‘no make-up make-up’ (that takes twice as long to put on as it does to put on make-up that looks like you’re wearing make-up), handing their shining faced and clean moppets homemade edamame bean and chia seed brownies, while sighing over how hard it is to have such a gifted child.
I used to long to be one of these rare beings. If only I could master a slick of highlighter to give me that effortlessly natural look, and tame my frizzy hair and feral children, then everything else in my life would surely be perfect as well? Alas, both hair and children firmly resisted taming attempts, both making it clear they much preferred open rebellion. And it dawned on me fairly early on, over hearing a conversation between Perfect Mummies at the Baby and Toddler group about how marvellous it was that Little Tarquin’s new trousers didn’t even need ironed and I realised it had never even occurred to me that people did iron toddlers’ clothes, that I was never going to be admitted to those shiny, crease free ranks. And I also realised I didn’t really want to be, as the pressure and the competition between the Perfect Mums seemed exhausting (one mother left a baby music class in indignation on finding her nine-month-old baby wouldn’t get a certificate at the end because ‘What is the point if there is no record of their achievement?’)
Instead, I found a different sort of mother, who were much more on my wavelength. The Wotsit crumb smeared mothers, absent mindedly eating the half-chewed jelly babies that their precious moppet had just spat into their hand because it was green and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES will their child permit anything green, even jelly babies, to pass their lips because they might thus be tricked into eating vegetables.
The wonderful thing about the Imperfect Mummies, is there is such huge solidarity and support in admitting our mistakes. Every confession of a parenting fail can be matched by someone else’s equally dire cautionary tale (like if you feed your baby butternut squash, you must change their dirty nappy IMMEDIATELY, for if you leave them sitting in it for even ten minutes because you are stuck in the car, their bottom will be dyed bright orange, like a little baboon, for a week, which takes some explaining to the nursery). And there is a lot of comfort to be found in knowing that you are not the only one who has convinced their children ‘Freezer Surprise’ is a treat for dinner, or that the electronic babysitter is their sanity saviour, or that sometimes, a glass of wine and a good moan about your beloved family makes everything seem so much easier to cope with afterwards.
Our hair may not swish, we may sometimes realise too late that we have forgotten to put a bra on, and our children may be confused by the purpose of an iron, being so unaccustomed to seeing one (non-iron school uniform is the greatest invention of the 21st century), but give me the Imperfect Mothers, wine and Wotsits and all, any day!