A Daughter's Perspective on Motherhood
Being a mum looks hard, really bloody hard. Not only do you actually have to push another human being out of your body, you then have to make sure it doesn’t accidentally ingest small toys, teach them right from wrong, and instil them with the belief that they can do whatever they want in life. Sometimes I put metal in the microwave so good luck to my future kid.
I have a horrific memory of shouting ‘I f****** hate you’ (so sweet) to my mum at 14 after she sent me to my room for something like refusing to wash up. Which in retrospect, doesn’t seem like the most effective punishment. As a teen, raging hormones and a dislike for dishwater blindside you from the fact that your mother is probably the most inspiring woman you will ever come to know and that every task she sets you is for your own gosh darn good. Despite you pitying her sensibility and work ethic, whilst begrudging the fact she ‘always takes his (your brother’s) side’, it’s inevitable that one day you will unknowingly morph into her.
As you reach dreaded adulthood, you outgrow the stage at which you were too self-centered to realise the multiple plates this wonder woman was spinning. You crave independence yet subconsciously look to her for a sense of approval that you are doing everything right. This woman becomes your figurative compass, a guiding light to your floating lifeboat. She teaches you that if you don’t like something, you have the ability to change it; doesn’t praise you on your appearance (cheers mum), but instead on your accomplishments and attitude to navigating this very weird world.
Motherhood, in every sense of the word, bares a heavy burden. The enormity of the responsibility attached to this word astounds me and I am bowled over every day by mothers young and old, single and married, who, in my grandmother’s words, ‘just get on with it’. However, it shouldn’t be assumed that they are able to be spread so thinly. Society’s unspoken expectation of a mother to become an omnipotent shapeshifter as soon as labour is over is harmful. Mothers feel as though they have ‘failed’ when they don’t meet these completely unattainable standards, even though they are doing the momentous job of keeping an adorable little crying ball of flesh alive.
Now a mid-twenties observer of motherhood, I’ve come to realise the many interpretations of this role and applaud its dismissal as a prerequisite to becoming a ‘proper lady’. Looking back on the lessons learned from my own mum, there are few golden words that will no doubt stay with me till the end of my days and be forced down my own child’s throat. Yet in true mum fashion, the most valuable piece of advice impressed on me (besides moisturising everyday) happens to be the old cringeworthy cliché of just be yourself. I wonder if she knew that I would end up being her instead.