Perfect mums are imperfect

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Us mums who convert Starbucks in a playground to enjoy our coffee…

This morning, after two very bad nights (worse than usual), a very long, physically and mentally tiring day yesterday, Oliver decided to scream his lungs out when I changed his nasty nappy. Just because. Nothing could make him feel better or less desperate. When this happens I usually react in one of these two ways: I shut down and change him silently through the screams or I keep telling him useless and wasted words.

This morning, after two very bad nights (worse than usual), a very long, physically and mentally tiring day yesterday, an endless loud and stressful nappy change, my husband decided to tell me—I’ll sum it up all in one sentence for drama effect—”When you’re tired, you sound frustrated and talk to him disrespectfully. You should be more patient, you shouldn’t take it out on him”.

Now, as you can imagine, I wasn’t happy and I surely let him know. Is it just me or men usually pick the very worst moments to say what goes through their minds? Sensitivity levels below zero.

Alex is right on a few things, though. I do lose it sometimes. And I do say things like, “Oliver, there’s really no reason to cry” in a more frustrated way when I’ve had enough (which I guess it’s what might make it sound disrespectful). And I do lose my cool more easily when I’m tired.

I’m only human, after all.

Of course I would prefer to be water at all times—collected, calm and serene—but it just doesn’t work like that. I don’t mean to moan, but being on your own with your baby the whole day is not exactly a stroll in the park. It gets hard at times, the kind of hard that you sometimes need to take a deep breath before picking him up or talking to him. And I do it a lot: I’ve taken more deep breaths in these past 10 months than in my entire life. That’s how I collect myself.

Now, I’ll give my husband this: he’s not here to see what an awesome, calm mum I am during the day. He’s not here all those times when Oliver screams because I don’t let him play with the printer and it’s on me to teach him that’s not a reason to cry. He’s not here all the times when Oliver cries if I leave his side for just one minute (separation anxiety, here we come!). He’s not here all the times when I put Oliver to sleep for his long morning nap, sit at the computer to finally get something done and he wakes up. He’s not here all the times when Oliver refuses to eat his lunch time so I patiently sit with him for even an hour. He’s not here when Oliver wakes up exactly when I’m starting a difficult class, but I go get him with a big smile on my face, no matter what.

So when he says you should be more patient he’s really talking about a 5% of the time I spend with Oliver. And I see why he feels entitled to say something like that: Oliver is his child, too, and during the day I’m raising him. So yes, I should be more patient.

But truth is the perfect mum doesn’t exist.

Perfect mums the way I’ve seen them do lose their cool and then apologise. They say things they don’t mean, and then take the time to explain why they said what they said. They get frustrated, but manage to collect themselves in a split second. They cry silently when they’ve had too much, but keep playing and smiling in between the tears. They happily collect their kids from school every day, but when they have the opportunity to avoid it, they’ll take it. They’re understanding and patient, but don’t challenge them: they’ll let you know sometimes harshly when enough is enough. They buy groceries so the fridge is never empty, but they’ll defrost a piece of fish when they don’t feel like cooking and “this is what there is, feel free not to eat if you don’t want it”. They let their babies play on the not-so-clean Starbucks floor to enjoy their coffee and a good chat.

Perfect mothers are indeed imperfect.

As I know this, I shouldn’t have lost my cool with Alex this morning. Because when I look around, if there’s one thing I shouldn’t do is to complain about my husband. After all, even perfect husbands are imperfect.

How  do you see the perfect mum? Let me know in the comments


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My name is Carlotta, I’m 33 years old, I’m Italian, married to a Finnish guy, and together we raise Oliver (4) and Emily (2) Montessori and multilingual. We’re selling everything to travel the world.

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  1. Ciao carlotta!
    Curiosita’….
    Vedo dalla foto che li’ lasciate tranquillamente i vostri bimbi x terra nei luoghi pubblici… E’ cosi?
    Grazie!

    • Ciao e grazie per il tuo commento! In genere cerchiamo di andare sempre in posti dove ci lasciano lasciare i bimbi liberi di giocare per terra. Questa foto è stata fatta a Starbucks, dove andiamo ogni giovedì dopo la lezione di nuoto! Mettiamo tutte le sedie e i passeggini a delimitare l’area e i bimbi in mezzo a giocare per terra… super rilassante!

  2. Ohhhhhh..sottoscrivo alla grande!

  3. Cuánta razón tienes Carlotta, yo creo que ese 5 por ciento lo tenemos todas y es inevitable no explotar en determinados momentos, cuidar a un bebé durante todo el día todos los días es una tarea digna de alabar.

  4. Te admiro. Cuando mi bebe tuvo trece meses decidí que necesitaba un poco de tiempo para mi. Para ordenar la casa, lavarme el pelo tranquilamente, dormir… sufrí mucho al dejarlo en la guardería sin tener una razón o por lo menos la válida para todo el mundo que es trabajar fuera de casa. Al final fue la mejor decisión que tomé, descanse y me recupere un poco y decidí empezar a trabajar por pocas horas unos meses para sentirme más yo además de madre. El tiempo de desconectar era perfecto para echarnos de menos mi pequeño y yo y pasar el resto del tiempo juntos con más ganas.

    • Noelia, eso me parece exactamente lo que haría una de esas mamás "perfectas" de que hablo en mi post! Hasta ahora no he tenido esa necesidad, pero sí que me tomo mi tiempo, voy a mis clases de baile por la noche y dejo a Oliver con el papi: salgo y egoisticamente ni miro atrás aunque Oliver esté más llorón, dejo que mi marido se busque la vida. Y cuando me sienta lista, con o sin razón, haré exactamente lo que hiciste tú. Gracias por compartir! Qué tengas buen jueves!

  5. We share the same feelings, worries and tears, Carlotta, so it was nice reading your experience with Oliver in your blog. And even nicer, I admit, now that my first and only daughter is nearly 3 years old and I have much more time for myself than I have had in the last years.
    They grow so quickly though….it seems like Yesterday when I used to tell to myself "I can’t wait till she is one", then two…now I wish she were three forever! 🙂

    • Carlotta - March 20, 2016

      Stefania, thanks for your lovely comment. I know the feeling very well, I’m thrilled about all the beautiful adventures that are awaiting us, but part of me wants time to slow down (big time!). I guess that feeling never goes away 🙂

  6. Quanta verità carlotta in queste righe. Finché un esperienza non si vive in prima persona, da fuori non si può capire. E da fuori intendo anche i papà che ogni mattina all’ora precisa si vestono e vanno a lavorare e si prendono la loro boccata d’aria giornaliera di minimo otto ore. Lo so bene che non vanno a divertirsi ma comunque sono fuori e non hanno i pensieri e le attenzioni rivolte ai bambini che rimangono a casa. Una mamma è presente 24 ore su 24. Lo so che ho scelto di rimanere a casa dal lavoro tutti i sei mesi della facoltativa e rientrare al lavoro a termine di questi , per vari motivi , il primo perché il primo anno di vita il nanetto ha bisogno della mamma e.non di baby sitter o asili nido e perché sono momenti che poi non tornano più. Questo non vuol dire che non sia un lavoro difficile e stancante dove se riesci a ritagliarti venti minuti per te in due settimane è già tanto. O bastano anche solo i minuti per la.doccia che ovviamente non riesco mai a fare quando voglio io e vado avanti a salviette o a lavarmi a pezzi perché appena ti allontani un po’ e non ti ha davanti agli occhi o nel raggio di pochi metri ha quella sindrome di abbandono che hai scritto tu. È snervante a volte e anche io lo lascio piangere stando in silenzio con le orecchie ormai che non ne possono più … e sensi di colpa su sensi di colpa ….. a me di solito mi rimprovera il fatto che sto con il cell in mano anche mentre allatto come adesso al posto magari di accarezzarlo. ( so bene quando devo accarezzarlo non sono così incompetente ) . Il cellulare è il mio PC ormai … dove con whatsapp ci si scrive tra mamme e si tiene per alcuni secondi la testa concentrata altrove e dove leggo i vari blog come il tuo o i vari articoli tutti tutti ( tutti ) inerenti ai bimbi fatalità . È vero che se mi parla sono così concentrata che non me ne accorgo ma in realtà sto leggendo per il nano o per noi … leggo esperienze … mi faccio idee … leggo articoli interessanti o meno interessanti e Sì mi guardo anche Facebook. E se devo essere sincera non vedo dove sbaglio perché i miei minuti di aria durante la giornata vorrei prendermeli anche io e sono solo questi . Ciao ciao

    • Carlotta - May 18, 2016

      Bellissimo quello che hai scritto, Cinzia, grazie per averlo condiviso! Scommetto che qualunque mamma, in un momento o nell’altro, si può ritrovare in ognuna delle righe che hai scritto. Insomma, ben venga la possibilità di poter condividere su blog, forum, whatsapp e sfogarci e trovare esperienze simili alle nostre per renderci conto che in fin dei conti, siamo tutte nella stessa barca e stiamo andando tutte alla grande! 💪🏻


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