Why I Was The Perfect Mother, Until I Actually Became A Mother



Earlier this year my husband and I attended a parents' evening at our daughters’ nursery. Chatting with the staff, we received glowing accounts of our children’s behaviour. We were told that the girls were both sweet-natured, sociable children, independent and learning with enthusiasm...

We walked out of the nursery with our daughters skipping ahead of us looking at each other perplexed. Had we actually managed to nail parenting after all? We made a spur of the moment decision to treat the girls to dinner at a nice local restaurant. With such obviously well-behaved children what could go wrong?

The evening started out pleasantly enough but went quickly downhill. The girls’ meals came out soon after ordering but our youngest daughter quickly grew bored of sitting and waiting for our mains. Fuelled by the energy of food she slipped out of her chair, under the table and proceeded to run around the restaurant screeching. Her elder sister promptly chased after her. Wrangling them back to the table was futile. Our 18-month old refused to sit down, brushing away the lure of colouring pencils or a cartoon, so I simply had to circle around the restaurant with them both, desperately eyeballing the loitering waiters to will them to hurry our meals to the table. Almost an hour later when our pasta finally came out, my husband and I both lost all sense of table manners, shoving food into our mouths as fast as we could, one hand on a fork, the other each desperately grabbing at the girls in an effort to keep them at the table. Where on earth were the lovely, polite children we had heard about? As we walked out of the restaurant, each grimly carrying a writhing child to the palpable relief of the other diners it suddenly dawned on me… “You know if I didn’t have children I would have looked at us and thought ‘Those parents have no idea how to control their children. When I become a mother, I’ll never let my children behave like that,’ I said to my husband.

It made me start to think about all the other naïve assumptions I made about motherhood. Here are just a few…


My child will never run wild in a restaurant/plane/supermarket/ any public space...

Well, we all know how that went.


My child will never have a snotty nose…

I always used to look disdainfully at snotty children. Honestly couldn’t their parents wipe their noses? That’s until I experienced being a mother of a child in London. In winter. Unless you sticky tape a tissue to their face, their nose will inevitably run like a tap.


My children will never watch Peppa Pig

Silly me held out on Peppa Pig for almost two years. Until I realised that whiny little pink pig actually bought me five minutes silence. Nowadays I actually find Daddy Pig amusing. It’s a slippery slope.


My child will never eat processed foods/touch sugar/only eat organic  

Hopefully, I am not the only one whose standards seem to slip in line with the number of years/children? I think the girls’ diets were about 70% ice cream during the 2018 London heatwave. It’s not that I don’t care as much about their nutritional intake, it’s just I’ve learnt the occasional treat is actually rather useful when you need your children to do something they don’t want to do (oh hang on, wasn’t never bribing my children on my list?)


My children will always be beautifully dressed…

Well until they can speak that is. Right now I am locked in a staunch battle otherwise known as ‘Leggings-gate’ with my eldest daughter who has decided to wear nothing but the same hole-ridden leggings day in and day out, despite having a wardrobe of lovely dresses and the fact that we’ve just finished one of the hottest summers I can remember. You can guess who has won almost every time.

In short, I was the perfect mother, until I became a mother. There is nothing quite like motherhood for piercing lofty beliefs and bringing you back to the ground. Yet that humbling realisation is part of the beauty of becoming a parent.

Image: Helene Sandberg


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