I read this post this morning and resonated deeply.
This bit really got me:
‘How could you possibly be [doing enough]? You’re a woman, living in an age of extreme expectation. Superwoman Syndrome has shaken off its shoulder pads, pulled on its activewear leggings and buddied up with Hustle Culture to provide you a continual feed of All The Ways You Could Be Better. If you’re a woman with a child, then throw in a dose of Peak Parenting, and the bar for a successful life is now so high the Hubble telescope would squint.’
That’s me, right there. Constantly worrying if I am doing enough and constantly finding myself lacking. I need to give myself a break. So, note to self….
The ‘am I doing enough?’ piece is particularly strong in mums of special needs children.
A lot of our kids need extreme levels of support to accomplish the smallest of tasks. It’s a long-term project with no finish line in sight. We wonder if we are doing to enough to:
- Support their communication needs
- Develop their communication
- Keep their posture in check so as to avoid hip and spine complications
- Meet their nutritional needs
- Provide enough therapy
- Provide the right therapy
- Allow them some fun
- Make life full and fulfilling
- Promote independence
- Make life accessible to them
- Support our partners
- Support our other children
And that’s before we even get on to worrying about the fact we aren’t really making an income, let alone forging a side hustle.
The writer of the post suggests that we share an I don’t list, because it’s all too easy to see people’s social media highlight reels and think that they have it all. I work in social media (sporadically) and even I get sucked into the comparison trap.
I am prone to thinking that everyone’s house looks like a photoshoot is about to happen. That no one shouts at their kids. That everyone spends their days doing nurturing wholesome outdoor activities, not putting on a Disney film while they do some work or mop the floors. That every half term is the chance for an exciting family get away. I KNOW that’s not real life, but the more time you spend online, the more you forget that.
So, while I admit that I am a privileged, able-bodied white woman who has a hell of a lot, I do not have or do it all. Here’s my list of don’ts… (there’s quite a lot of overlap with the post that inspired this one. Not because I am copying her, just that a lot of our don’ts are the same – which I hope is reassuring to you non-cooking/cleaning/ironing mums out there)
I don’t currently have a regular income
I don’t put both children to bed every night. I do one and my husband or a carer does the other
I don’t have a girl gang (my friends are scattered around and we certainly don’t do any kind of regular SATC brunch catch ups
I don’t call my friends for a chat on the phone
I don’t remember to send many birthday cards or presents and any that I do remember will be at least a week late
I don’t make dinner – my husband does most of the cooking. He’s brilliant at it
I don’t exercise regularly
I don’t keep my house tidy. I mean, I tidy up a lot, but 90 per cent of the time it looks like the Tasmanian Devil blew through the lounge
I don’t iron
I don’t put away the clean laundry more than once a week
I don’t wear make-up every day (or even most days)
I don’t manage to wash my face before bed
I don’t parent perfectly and peacefully all the time
I don’t do T’s therapy every day (especially in the holidays, which I don’t feel guilty about as family life comes first)