Feeling that I am a bad mum quite often happens to me. Despite giving up work to spend more time with my children, I really don’t give them enough “quality time”. They are practising the piano and I am knitting while listening, shameful! They are back to school and I need to cook dinner, how very disorganised! They have blocked hears and it takes me two months to realise and take them to the doctor, bad bad bad! I did not choose the right school for them to go to, the right musical instrument to learn, the right place to live. The litany goes on and on and on. Perfectionist freak, me – not at all… What is quite reassuring, though, is that most of my friends have similar doubts about their parenting performance.
Over the years , I’ve read three books which have made me feel much better about this bad mum syndrome , each for very different reasons. So I thought I’d share the joy!
In the first, I found out that although I’m not a perfect mum, I could be much worse . In “Difficult Mothers”, psychologist Terri Apter goes through all the types of horrible mums out there: the angry mother, the controlling mother, the narcissistic mother, the envious mother, the emotionally unavailable mother. Although sometimes I am a bit of each, I’m definitely not one of them – instead, I am just a “good enough mother” as the author says, with the best intentions towards my children but also with all my human defects. And that’s all right!
In the second, I realised that by putting too much effort into developing your children, you can create monsters who end up hating you for it . In “ Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother ” , Amy Chua explains how she put all her energy and efforts into turning her two daughters into musicals prodigies. She goes through the all process, tells you all about the children amazing performance… And then admits how the children turned out when they became big enough to take their own decisions. Definitely not an encouragement to be an overly pushy parent if what you’re after is your children’s ongoing love.
And the third book convinced me that I am just a perfect parent because I am French! – only kidding! Pamela’s Druckerman’s “French Children Don’t Throw Food” is a fascinating attempt to understand the French way of raising kids, through the eyes of an outsider. It also compares and contrast the French way and the anglo-saxon way – very intersting for a French expat in London. It is full of observations you can’t make yourselves because you’re too immerged in your own culture; and full of pearls of wisdom.
I can’t finish without mentioning a fourth book just made me laugh a lot . It is called: ” How it works – The mum” and it starts like this: “This is a mum. A mum has two very important jobs to do. One is to look after her children. The other is to do everything else as well.” A fair illustration I would say!