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How does she do it?

I see a woman almost daily on my morning dash to preschool. She, like me has 2 children, but, unlike me, she always looks serene. It’s almost like she floats to her destination, children in tow. There is no coaxing, crying (her or the children) fussing, falling over, fighting over the pushchair. The children are just as serene as she is. Now my question is, how is this the case? Is it that this woman just has it nailed? Is she more organised then me? Does she leave the house half an hour before she needs to in order to make the journey smooth and stress-free? Is she drugging her children? Are her children just compliant and quiet?

In my mind, she must be an organic ‘earth mum’, her and her children have done a few meditations and sun salutations before the day has begun. They all eat muesli or porridge with fruit in for breakfast and getting dressed is a smooth process where no one cries and everyone wears what she has laid out (the night before because she is organised like that).

I wonder what she thinks of us as we career past daily, running because we might be late, leaving an echo of cries or shouts as we wizz by. Does she look at me and think ‘there is the scatty one’ or ‘how disorganised is that women’?

The thing is, it is easy to imagine someone’s life. To imagine they have it all together. But it is a snapshot, a freeze frame in time. In total I probably actually see this women for 2 minutes a day. Perhaps those 2 minutes she just got lucky? Maybe her children have just recovered from a meltdown, or she has just had to change her top because she found Weetabix stains on it. Maybe they just like that short part of the walk and so they are particularly tranquil in that moment? Or maybe she is just amazing. Either way we will never know.

I feel like I will never reach the serenity or togetherness of this women, or more accurately, what I imagine this woman to be. Yet the other day, in another mad rush to our destination I bumped into a lady I have seen several times. We were queuing next to one another at the doctors and she said, “your children always look so well turned out and are always so nicely behaved, I’m embarrassed when I bump into you because we all look so messy and unruly” I had to turn around to check she was talking to me. Most of my friends or family would laugh at that statement. They are well turned out for about the first 2 minutes of the day, but it is a quick spiral into completely dishevelled, usually by the time we have reached wherever it is we are going. I thanked her and said that was kind, but really, this is a rarity. I explained we mostly feel like the exact opposite. The funny thing is that for a few moments, to that women I was the equivalent of ‘serene, organic mum’. She thought that about me as I imagine of the mum I pass most days.

It highlights that in this brief snapshot anyone can be whoever we imagine, and we might be that imagined person to someone else. No one has it all together all the time (do they?) No one really has full control over their babies or child’s moods (please tell me that’s true), we are all doing our best, and if we are lucky we will be freeze framed in the exact right moment. If not then we are just normal, and no better or worse than anyone else making the mad dash to get to their destination on time, with children in tow.

* This post was first written for Meet Other Mums Website

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