A perfect mum is an imperfect mum, it’s as simple as that. So what is an imperfect mum? It’s me, and it’s probably you, and we should all be proud of it.
One of Australia’s leading parenting bloggers, Kristy Vallely of The Imperfect Mum, believes it is no longer enough to just offer support to women and mums over the internet. Over the weekend she brought the Empowering Women Conference to Brisbane, where Kristy and an array of inspiring speakers addressed the societal expectations of ‘the perfect mum’.
I caught up with her to find out why she is so proud to be an imperfect mum and why we should strive to be the same.
Is there such a thing as a perfect mum?
The biggest problem with the picture that we are given about motherhood, by the media as a whole, and all the commercials we are presented with, is that every mum is perfect. She is wearing white, the mum is calm and relaxed, the house is spotless and clean, it’s an unrealistic picture.
I’m not just blaming the media. People share that perfect life on social media also and don’t share enough of their struggles. Granted, people do want to see the nice stuff and we don’t want to read all the bad stuff like fighting with husbands and sick kids, but if we think that that one dimension of perfect is real and we don’t hear about the truth, that can misconstrue our view on a realistic motherhood.
What is an imperfect mum?
We are all imperfect, there is no such thing as a perfect mum and that’s what I’m all about, dispelling that myth. We all aspire to be perfect but it doesn’t work. Once we learn to accept that as a society it will be more empowering for current and future mothers. We need to realise that motherhood is messy and imperfect. Mum’s need to be strong enough to admit they are imperfect and authentic enough to own it.
Do you think our kids care if we are not perfect?
They love that we are imperfect. By us being imperfect it shows them what is normal. They love us anyway and the way we are is perfect to them. Life is imperfect and if they see you struggling to have it all together all the time then it’s not going to do them any good because they will then try to do the same. But if they see the broadness of life, and that it’s OK to surrender to what life throws at you, we are giving them a good expectation of what life is like and will be like.
How do you be the best mum you can be?
Accepting and realising that life and being a mum is confusing, overwhelming and messy. When we are honest with ourselves and our struggles we will all feel more normal. You are not your neighbor. We need to drop the comparison game of thinking everyone else has it together and has it all. That person might be looking right at you thinking the same thing about you. Just because you have makeup on and nice clothes doesn’t mean you have it together, it’s only one part of someone’s life. Once we stop comparing that is the key to being a fulfilled mum. You kids will love you deeply if they see you as a happy mum and that’s the best thing for them.
Why do you think mothers judge other mothers so much?
We are all guilty of it. I think it is because of our own unrealistic expectations on ourselves, which we project onto others. Judging is sometimes how we survive and feel better about ourselves and our choices in parenting. Every single person on this planet has a different path and have lived a different life. It could be stress, abuse, domestic violence, and that seems normal to them, so we can easily judge them without knowing the truth of their past. They might be doing the best that they can with the tools they were taught. I hate that I judge and I am working on it and will do for the rest of my life. I want to realise the full picture of someone’s life first and we all should. Motherhood can be isolating; this is a way to break that cycle.
Motherhood is isolating. Why?
Centuries ago, we had our baby at home and we lived together as a community in caves and the like, we saw breastfeeding, behavior management, and we had a whole family unit teaching us and nurturing us. These days we don’t even talk to our neighbor. Our own mums are still probably working, so we don’t have access to them daily and the same with other friends who have had kids. We are given a baby and go home and may not have properly learned breast feeding and looking after a child and we don’t have the skills, nor is someone there to teach us. We are living in silos, which is why mums are turning to social media to feel connected to someone, anyone.
You change so dramatically when you become a mother. You may lose some friends as your ideals and social life changes. I have found the amount of people who write in and say they don’t have friends anymore because of having a baby, its heartbreaking. You stop talking about yourself and only talk about the baby, you lose yourself and in turn you lose friends. If you do see someone struggling, instead of judging them, stand beside them and ask if they need a hand. Become a friend, ask them about themselves and how they are and not always about the baby or child. If we support our mothers it might even start to stop cycles of abuse and depression that is rampant in our society and our kids will be better off and become better humans. We need embrace each other and our flaws and say proudly, ‘I am imperfect, and that’s OK’.
For more of Kristy’s thoughts, visit theimperfectmum.com.au.