"The Perfect Mother"
Written by Celma Ococ
It was the first week of June, and I was in a cubicle in KFC. My heart was beating like a tambourine. My hands were shaking as I opened my first ever pregnancy test, which I must admit was the hardest item I had ever bought. I don’t know why, but I was paranoid thinking the cashier knew my mum or dad or he would judge me. It’s funny now when I think about it, but being only 21 at that time, it was like a horror movie.
So, I’m sitting in this cubicle in KFC, while my boyfriend is downstairs pretending not to be nervous. I knew I had to pee on the stick but with all the fears of being interrupted along with me shaking, I only managed to get a drop of urine on it. I was so inexperienced that I put it in my bag and went downstairs hoping I would still get the results with that little drop. Anyways, it failed so back to the cubicle I went with my last stick. This time, I grabbed a cup to make life easier. I also couldn’t afford to buy another packet of Clearblue Digital. Before I could even dry my hands, the results popped up “pregnant.” My entire body was numb. I had a feeling, but when that feeling was confirmed, it was crazy! I didn’t know what emotion to have.
I walked downstairs like a zombie. My boyfriend didn’t believe me, but that was partly my fault because I had joked about being pregnant many times before (just to test him out). Hahaha, young love, eh!
As the weeks went by, I grew attached to my bump. I was nervous but excited to be a mother. Throughout my pregnancy, I kept thinking about the type of mother I wanted to be. I wanted to be the PERFECT mother who had it all together. My vision of motherhood was getting up early, having a shower, doing my hair and putting on some lipstick. I would have my breakfast while reading the newspaper and then breastfeed my lovely baby who just woke up. We would have some playtime together before her morning nap. As she slept, I would read a book or do some work. I would still look gorgeous, so I would pop out to lunch with my mummy friends and go for a stroll in the park before heading home to make my partner a delicious three-course meal. And finally, the day would end with a romantic cuddle on the sofa cradling our baby to sleep. Now that’s what you call perfection!
As perfect as it sounds, that type of motherhood does not exist. Well, not every day anyway. It wasn’t long before reality slapped me in the face. “Me” awake before my baby? Never! Not after the crazy marathons of feeding I had to endure through the night for at least six months. As for the lipstick, it’s called saliva! And on a good day, Vaseline. Reality hit hard for me. I was having breakfast at lunchtime on most days still in my pajamas. The thought of leaving my house was nuts! I mean, how could that be possible with a child who feeds every two hours? I tried my best to look good and do everything according to time. I was desperate to gain control of my life, but the more I forced it, the harder it became.
But guess what? Life got easier when I stopped trying so hard. I learned to embrace all of motherhood, not just the happy moments. I had good days and bad days, but I was OK with that. In fact, the bad days made me stronger as a person and as a mother. I didn’t always look my best, nor did I spend enough time on myself, but all of that didn’t matter because the most important thing was my daughter’s happiness.
I realized that parenting was bigger than me; it involved God. My perception of the perfect mother was false and unrealistic. God showed me that no two mothers, babies, labors, homes, or purposes are the same. However, the one thing we do have in common is our challenges; we share similar experiences. And the God-given strength we have to unconditionally love and raise this little person is enough to make us great.
There are times when I’ve just woken up, and already, I’m pleading with God to give me strength because that’s how tough my night was. God doesn’t just give us life’s biggest blessings; He also supports us and provides for us throughout the journey. Our relationship with God is the foundation for our families and how we grow as mothers.
What does “having it all” really mean? It means nothing because we all want different things. Is there such a thing as a perfect mother? Of course not, because we are unique in our own ways and every day is a lesson. We will fall and get right back up. We will make mistakes and gain wisdom. So don’t try to be “perfect.” Instead, aspire to be great in all you do.
Truth is, your desire to be the perfect mother for your children, when rooted in love, already makes you a great mother.