Now, as you will know if you have read my (frankly brilliant) poem Introducing Alpha Mummy & Beta Mummy, I believe that all mums lie somewhere on a spectrum. At one end you have the True Alpha Mummy – practically perfect in every way, and nice to boot. At the other end of the scale you have the True Beta Mummy, who is… err… the opposite. In fact, the True Beta Mummy is probably dangerously close to requiring an intervention from Social Services to be honest, but this is a light-hearted blog so let’s just say she’s a bit shit but means well.
I think many of us start out (pre-getting upduffed) imagining that we will be like Alpha Mummy, but if you’re anything like me you have gradually yet steadily bumped and skidded your way along the spectrum towards Beta Mummy-dom.
Here are my five steps to simply giving up on achieving Alpha status, and just accepting that inevitable decline:
- Don’t bother buying any pregnancy or parenting books. Accept that nothing (NOTHING) goes by the book as far as that pesky little wriggler inside you goes. Your bump will be too big or too small, you will put on too much or not enough weight, baby will almost certainly not arrive on its “due” date – and once it has made an appearance, it most certainly will not sleep/feed/burp/shit on cue. Tear up the books, I’m telling you.
- Do whatever it takes to survive the first few months. WHATEVER IT TAKES. Eat all the cake (sod the baby weight), drink wine if it helps (you don’t have to be teetotal even if breastfeeding), do the bare minimum of housework and ACCEPT ALL HELP OFFERED. Alpha Mummy may well manage to keep the baby happy, the house immaculate and the husband serviced, but seriously woman, just go take a nap.
- Go to baby groups if you want to. If you don’t, don’t. Your baby will not be socially stunted and be a loner for all eternity (probably). Bear in mind, however, that a decent baby group can be a chance to eat biscuits, drink tea and chat to other desperate-for-adult-conversation souls – they can be a lifesaver. Baby massage is not essential for proving your love for your child, and if your baby is anything like mine, they’ll scream blue bloody murder through the whole thing in any case – NOT RELAXING. Don’t even get me started on those ridiculously expensive swimming lessons which are basically £15 a time to freeze your tits off, dunk a screaming baby, and then spend £300 at the end of the course on underwater photos that are undeniably cute, but THREE HUNDRED QUID!
- Do not compare your baby/child to other babies/children. Easier said than done, but honestly you will feel so much better if you just accept that your kid is a moron from day one. Not sitting up yet? Whatever. Not walking by 9 months? Cool, your wine glass is safe on the coffee table a bit longer. Still not talking at a whole year old – yep, definitely a thicko, but hey. It’s all good, no need to leave urgent messages on the health visitor’s answerphone just yet. Alpha Mummies all around you might be signing up their little darlings for Mandarin classes at six months old, and enrolling them in ballet before they can stand, but my advice to you is to perfect your “don’t give a shit face” and let your offspring chew on his own toes a little longer.
- You know what – it is OK if you don’t enjoy spending every waking moment with your children. Frankly it’s OK not to even like your children all that much, a lot of the time (particularly if they happen to be 2 years old). They can be total shits – all of them – and unless you happen to be Alpha Mummy, you will lose your patience, you will scream and shout, you will mutter swears under your breath and you will question exactly what it was that made you think having children was a good idea. Which is precisely why you bloody well deserve a night out once in a while – and don’t you dare feel guilty about it!
When all is said and done, you love your kids and you want them to be OK. So, pick your battles, set your expectations sufficiently low, keep your wine cellar well stocked (what do you mean, you don’t have a wine cellar?!) – and the kids? The kids will be just fine.