Please tell me you know a mum like this: She has one or more children, maybe works part-time, but seems to have an enormous influx of help available to her. Family members who willingly babysit happily, friends and family always dropping in, regular nights out with her beau/friends and basically non-stop network of support that enables her to live a full and busy life, despite having very young children.
Do YOU know a mum like this?
Try not to Judge
This blog is inspired by a recent conversation with my neighbour Diane. Her son and daughter in law have recently had their first child (her first grandchild). I caught Diane as I was coming back from work – she had just taken her new grandson for a walk (he’s 8 weeks old). I have noticed over recent weeks that she seemed to be taking him for a walk every day around the same time – mum no where to be seen – so I asked whether her daughter in law had gone back to work. She said “No – I’m just having him every afternoon for 3/4 hours so she can have a break”. “Oh, that’s nice” I say, followed by “lucky her!”.
As the conversation continued it transpired that the baby was due to have his first sleepover at his grandparents house that they were planning to have him to stay one night a week. I was blown away by this. Regardless of how tired I was I would have never considered having a night off every week, even if it was offered! I am not going to lie, in that moment, I was being a little judgey.
Free Childcare Debate
I feel like I know a lot of people like this though and I’m going to admit something. I am jealous of them. Most (not all) of my mummy friends have this influx of help available. Most irritatingly they have willing parents offering free (often full time) childcare. I think this is the biggest kick in the teeth for me. First of all I should say I am conflicted on this because I completely disagree with those people who willingly TAKE UP the offer of free full time childcare from their parents. The way I see it your parents have worked hard all their lives and they deserve to enjoy their retirement and not be tied every single day of the week to childcare duties (even if they are offering!).
So, half of my brain is shouting “shame on you if you’re taking advantage of your parents like this!!”. The other side of my brain is saying “God how lucky are you not shelling out £800 a month on childcare” – can I really blame them for taking the freebie option?
Don’t wind up bitter and twisted
If truth be told I am embarrassed to admit this level of jealousy. I am the green eyed monster. But I am a rational human being (most of the time) and I can steer clear of resentment and acknowledge others to be “blessed” and “fortunate” without feeling bitter and twisted. But I think what gets my back up is when people are totally taking their situation for granted and not realising how fortunate they really are. Because if they could take a step back and look at their reality compared to other people, they might begin to understand that not everyone has it that easy.
You can’t change it
I will admit from time to time I think to myself “this is not how it was supposed to be” and “if my mum was here things would have been so different” and both of those statements are true. I think I’m allowed to be angry about this, and wish things were different – this is a normal human emotion. But at the same time I have to pull myself out of this mentality quickly. It’s not healthy or useful to have such negative thoughts – it is what it is and nothing can change it.
Take opportunities when offered
If your circumstances are anything like mine, please know that you’re not alone. Not everyone has the natural support system that some mums have. I know how bone-crushingly exhausting motherhood can feel and how overwhelming it is. For some of us getting a “break” isn’t easy, if anything it seems to be a seemingly insurmountable task. But it does no good to judge those mums who have more of a helping hand, nor does it any good to be jealous of their circumstances.
We all need help and support from time to time, and for those that aren’t used to getting regular help my advice would be this: be open to receiving help/support, take it when it is offered – allow it to happen from time to time. When getting help isn’t the norm it can be hard to let people take the reins for a while. I am certainly guilty of this and sometimes I let my pride get in the way. In my mind by accepting the help I am acknowledging I can’t manage on my own and this makes me feel like a rubbish mum. But if you don’t accept the help when it’s offered people eventually stop offering and your support system becomes non existent. Don’t let that happen.
For those mums who have very little support system – you are superstars. You have an inbuilt strength that a lot of women can’t even imagine. So give yourself credit.