This is the kind of attention grabbing blog header/Pinterest graphic and Facebook post that seems to grab at me from the phone screen most days.
Why? Well to answer this in complete honesty I'd have start by admitting to you that I spend most of my days, weeks and hours feeling like I am failing miserably as a parent and lugging round the heavy rucksack of guilt that goes along with that.
The ridiculous thing is I know that for me, for many of my friends and the women I have met through my writing, motherhood and guilt are a flavour combination that work well together. The antidote to this, it seems, is to promise to do better next time.
"Lord I'm sorry I fed my child a pouch of organic fruit puree, If you let this one slide I'll grow fruit, pick it by hand and crush it into a manageable pulp to feed my precious offspring."
While the above may seem slightly dramatic, I've had plenty of conversations where I've given myself a C- for parenting and told myself I could do better.
To be truthful to you, I must tell you I feel guilt over all aspects of my life since I welcomed a child into it. I love that child, Lord help me I do, and you love yours, I know it. That's why you are stockpiling Pinterest boards with potential sugar-free, grain free treats, potential birthday party ideas for down the road and also that's why you are here, reading a blog post about how to do better at the one thing you find both natural and completely impossible in measures that change on a minute by minute basis.
I apologise, dear reader, for dragging you here under false pretence but before you ditch me altogether, hit unfollow on all my social media links and generally curse the day I was born, Please, let me share with you a little tip.
I do have a little nugget of wisdom up my puree covered sleeve. A token of advice passed down, ignored yet generally acknowledged by all Women, Mothers or not.
Want to be a better mother? Take time out for you and only you.
Not only do you need to take that time, you need to know that the guilt will come like a tsunami and when it does, you plant your feet and you stay there chanting "I acknowledge I became a mother but I also need time to be me."
Selfish, Crazy, Inhumane as it may seem. You do need time to be you.
Take that time to work, to create or to sit on the loo and have a good old cry while your partner tries to wrangle the baby into clothes, and you know you could do it swifter (OK so that was my morning). Take that time to remember who you are and what you love. Enjoy it when your arms feel lighter because you are on your own. **Note, your heart will not feel lighter and that's normal.
To love anything you have to love yourself in the most down'n'dirty way first.
Taking time out is not easy. Sometimes you will guilt yourself and sometimes well-meaning others will guilt you too. Please know that this is all fine. It will sweep by and it will be quick. The guilt will be quick and that precious time for you will also be quick so define it, enjoy it and suck that good stuff up because really soon you will be back to the Mothering.
You will be back to the beautiful parts, the food stained parts and all the other wonderful, sticky, noisy and let's be honest sometime s****y parts. Except now you attack them differently. Maybe you are gentler with your approach, maybe you are calmer with all involved. Maybe you find intent and gusto in hearing the theme tune to Peppa Pig for the 75th time that day. You find it easier because you remember that you matter. You matter to you and all the other people around you that you serve on a minute by minute basis.
So Mothers, if you want to improve your Mothering and you want to improve it today?
Remember you matter to so many tiny, small and frankly sometimes tall humans and in order to be the best for them, there's a good chance you have to do whats best for you.