There appears to be a current rise in popularity of ‘real parenting’ content, which focuses on the downfall of the ‘supermum’ aspiration and sheds light on the reality of parenting, warts and all. From articles in the Guardian to the Cbeebies Instagram account to celebrity podcasts to chart-topping books, parents everywhere are baring all to show that even people who look like they’ve got it together are dealing with the same challenges.
Since creating a public Instagram account, I’ve really enjoyed engaging with other accounts which show both the fun and wonderful aspects of parenting, and also the vomit-covered tantrum-fest it often turns into. As the first of my friendship group to have children, I was not at all prepared for the reality of having a child. Yes, everyone tells you you’ll be tired. But that’s a far cry from the drudgery, loneliness, inevitability and helplessness you can really feel as a new parent.
So, it’s been very cathartic to find other parents who are willing to admit that their little cherubs are actually sometimes devils in disguise. Or to console you on a down day with a story of how they had to catch a poo with their bare hands to save their grandma’s Persian rug. (If you’ve not been through potty training, I’m sorry to inform you that this is not a rare tale). Some of those are “real-life” friends, but I’ve also discovered a wonderful community online embracing the less glamorous parts of parenting.
True, there are still some content creators out there who prefer to show just the shiny side of life. And I do enjoy a peek at these, in the same way I live vicariously through other people’s holiday snaps or interior design photos. However, it’s more comforting to know that the majority of mums out there are just like me. Every family has their own challenges, but we are all navigating the burden of raising children in a society that encourages us to be independent and career-focused, chasing gender equality, whilst also promoting family ideals of quality time and wholesome, educational activities.
The changing tide in what makes a ‘good parent’ has really helped me to embrace the way I raise my children and appreciate that I don’t need to be chasing some unachievable fantasy of the perfect working mother. Instead of working myself into the ground and having a full agenda of baking and tuff trays, I can accept that I’m only human and would rather enjoy my messy, unorganised family life than have a pristine one masking exhaustion and misery behind the scenes. And that my ‘good enough’ is different to someone else’s ‘good enough’, but that doesn’t make either of them better. Just different.
Accepting that something has to give and you can no longer give your all to everything is hard. It’s a transition full of doubt and introspection and comparison with others. But it’s worth it. So, I’m frankly glad to see the back of the ‘supermum’; long live the ‘real mum’.