As we arrived at toddler gym I couldn’t help but notice the very put together looking young mum with two perfectly dressed daughters who I had spoken to last week was on her mobile phone in tears holding the baby and the toddler was nowhere in sight.
I had barely spoken with her last week. Only a polite passing comment. I knew I had two choices. I could “pretend” I hadn’t noticed and walk in or I could extend empathy. In that moment I knew that while I didn’t even know her name I knew her soul in that exact moment. That moment when life overwhelms and previously well checked tears flow no matter how much we wish they wouldn’t. That moment when our well put together mask slips unfashionably off and we are vulnerable, real and alone in an embarrassing flood of emotions. I did what felt right. I hugged her. Her shuddering body leant in as I gave her the type of hug reserved for my kids. A silent motherly hug.
I left her to her support on the phone. But of course I wondered if she was okay. I noticed when she quietly snuck in and thankfully took her toddler back from the charge of the teacher.
I chased Miss Bee and after a while she came to thank me. She explained that the baby wasn’t sleeping, the toddler had run off again. I told her that Miss Bee can be revolting. That sometimes I wake up and wish I could have a day off and drink cocktails instead. That it’s possible to love them and hate them all at once. Motherhood is a very demanding role requiring superhuman abilities. That she is a great mum, she is out taking her girls to activities (no matter how ungrateful they seemed). She thanked me for being so honest, she was glad to know she wasn’t alone in this gig called mothering. That we all have hard moments, those who say they don’t are liars.
Mothers often prefer to present themselves as superior to other mothers. The mothers with perfectly behaved offspring, stain free clothing (yours and theirs), only nutritious meals, model educational opportunities, always tidy homes, never late and complete control are unicorns.
Unicorns look cool and magical but they are also an utterly mythical fantasy. The product of daydreams and lies.