I am a huge fan of motivational and inspirational quotes. I use them in my teaching regularly. However, there are many I have come across since becoming a Mum that are far from inspiring; instead I find them limiting and patronising.
Take this example. “Dear Mum who’s trying to do it all: STOP. You’re only human.”
At first glance it seems supportive; trying to relieve us from the stress of everyday life. But the more I read it, the more I question it.
‘Dear Mum who’s trying to do it all’.
Why is it just Mums who are ‘trying to do it all’? I know many people: male, female, parents or not, who are incredibly busy doing many things, juggling all that life throws at them. Are Mums targeted with this sort of quote because we’re deemed to be the ones who need them the most? Is everyone else on top of it, and we’re the only ones who are ‘trying’?
And that’s the issue for me. The suggestion that Mums are ‘just trying’!
I would argue we are actually doing it, whatever ‘it’ may be. We’re raising our children alongside working, nurturing our relationships, cooking, cleaning, paying the bills, organising family gatherings or social events with friends. Maybe we’re managing an illness – our own or another’s, caring for an older family member, doing multiple school runs, attending parents evenings, making costumes, organising birthday parties and playdates, taking children to clubs or activities. Somewhere in there we might actually be doing something for ourselves. You get the idea. The list is endless. And we’re not just ‘trying’ to do it; we are actually doing it all.
Don’t patronise us and tell us we’re just ‘trying’. We may not always get it right but that doesn’t mean we’re only ‘trying’.
Onto the next part – ‘STOP‘.
Really?! That’s the advice, just ‘stop’?! Thank you. I feel so much better now, that really helps with any difficulties I may be having! How about a ‘well done’ or ‘thank you’. Not just stop! To me, saying ‘stop’ is to say ‘you aren’t doing well enough in your efforts so give up’. And no, I will not give up! Just because it is hard work doesn’t mean I won’t and can’t do it. I can and I will! What is needed is more understanding and supportive words that encourage us to get up tomorrow, to take the next step forward and not feel alone.
And lastly, ‘you’re only human’. How condescending.
Why am I ‘only’ human? This implies being ‘human’ is not good enough and never will be. To be human is to be flawed, yes. I accept we have limitations and we need to acknowledge these to help us manage our own expectations as well as those around us. We’re human, we may not be perfect but we should be proud of what we’re achieving day in, day out. We can only do so much in the time we have. Just because we may not achieve all we set out to do in a day, it doesn’t mean we failed, that we half-heartedly tried and it was to be expected as we’re only human.
It means we get up the next day to finish what we started. We keep going, we keep others going. We fight through the hard times and celebrate the good times. We cry and we laugh. We love our children unconditionally and love our families no matter what. We are there for friends who need us; a shoulder to cry on, a bottle of prosecco to cheers with, chocolate to soothe with.
We will make mistakes. We will get angry. We will have days when we want to fall down. Because we are human.
I’m proud of what I’m doing. I’m not always doing it right but I’m learning as I go. I am a Mum, a wife, a teacher, a daughter, a sister and a friend. I juggle many things, sometimes the balls drop and other times they fly high. I am human which means I am capable of wonderful things such as dancing with my daughter to Mary Poppins for the hundredth time; listening to my husband when he’s had a bad day; advising a student who is struggling; being there on my sister’s birthday to surprise her; baking a cake to say thank you to someone at work; registering with Anthony Nolan to donate for blood cancer. All these things may not be grand gestures, but they are everyday things to show someone I care. After all, to be human is to love, not to be perfectly doing it all.
So to my fellow Mums, my advice is not to stop but keep going and keep loving. It’s what we do best. I raise my glass to you and say ‘well done!’ We are fantastic because we are human and we do it all because we are Mums. And that is something to celebrate.
Post written by Anna B, one of our Women Aloud members. Do you have something you’d like to get off your chest? We’d love to hear from you >