Gio­vanna Fletcher

It’s the im­per­fec­tions that make life per­fect

Mother & Baby (UK) - - UPFRONT -

Be­fore be­com­ing a mum I was con­stantly chas­ing per­fec­tion. I wanted to have one of the per­fect bod­ies I saw in mag­a­zines, with the stream­line fig­ure, flaw­less skin, glossy hair and white teeth to boot. I wanted ev­ery­thing the me­dia told me I wanted to have. As a re­sult I al­ways felt fat, wob­bly, un­groomed and yel­low-toothed. Their idea of per­fect was out­side of my reach and that made me feel rub­bish. I failed mis­er­ably be­cause I was chas­ing some­one else’s ideal rather than cel­e­brat­ing what I al­ready had (great legs, a fab per­son­al­ity and a nice smile – FYI).

My quest to be the best seeped into moth­er­hood

‘When we re­alise we are all wing­ing it, we give our­selves a break’

ini­tially. Not in an ex­ter­nal sense (‘hello’ cracked leaky nip­ples, an un­der­car­riage I don’t recog­nise and a tummy that still looks five months preg­nant), but in the way I raised my boys. I wanted to do it all cor­rectly and keep in line with what I was told a good mother should be. I wanted to be a mum who had ev­ery­thing to­gether and could cope. No, more than that: I wanted to be a mother who could suc­ceed on a daily, hourly, minutely and se­condly ba­sis. Yes, I just made up those words, but this is my col­umn, so it’s al­lowed! Any­way, I’ve since re­alised that such a wo­man is myth­i­cal. We all fail. Each of us has our im­per­fec­tions and has to learn to adapt and com­pro­mise when what we’re hop­ing for isn’t achieved.

But we keep go­ing. Why? Be­cause there’s no other choice: we are moth­ers. But also be­cause we recog­nise this is just one mo­ment and that tomorrow is a whole new day. So your child had a melt­down in the su­per­mar­ket and peo­ple were star­ing – there’s al­ways tomorrow. So your child didn’t eat the nu­tri­tional homemade meal you spent an hour cook­ing for him and de­manded a shop-bought pouch in­stead – there’s al­ways tomorrow. So you went to a baby club with sick all down the back of your top and no one told you – there’s al­ways tomorrow. So you had no sleep be­cause the chil­dren tag-teamed you all night long (I’m sure they ruddy planned it) – there’s al­ways tomorrow. You al­ways have tomorrow to get it right. And when tomorrow comes, you’ll have the day af­ter that. And the day af­ter that. And that. We will be for­ever try­ing and fail­ing… wel­come to par­ent­hood!

We keep go­ing be­cause those lit­tle ras­cals have got a firm grip on our hearts and each of us would do any­thing for them. We dig deep and carry on, show­ing a re­mark­able amount of stamina which I wish I pos­sessed five years ago when I was, quite laugh­ably, chas­ing the per­fect beach body. I mean, what is that even?! When we re­alise we are all wing­ing it and em­brace our im­per­fec­tions, we give our­selves a break. In that break, when you just play with your child and make them laugh or they tell you they love you without be­ing prompted, you reach pure, ut­ter per­fec­tion. Be­cause per­fec­tion does ex­ist. It’s right there in front of us. Hid­den in the sweaty, snotty, beau­ti­ful lit­tle faces we cre­ated. We did that. You did that. Con­grat­u­la­tions!

Prac­ti­cally per­fect… Gio­vanna with Buddy and Buzz

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