I wasn’t one of those girls who couldn’t wait to have kids. Not in my teens, 20s, or, to be frank, even once I’d crept over the 30 mark.
I liked gigs, movies and festivals and, after getting divorced at 31, I wasn’t really sure if coupledom – let alone family life and 2.4 children – was for me.
I certainly didn’t think I was any good at that whole domestic bliss business anyway.
And, from the moment my daughter was born almost 6 years ago, if I’m chatting with other mums about the whole parenting lark – which does inevitably slip into convo on a night out – I can’t help but feel a bit uncomfortable, and a bit rubbish compared to my mates.
There’s the one who takes 11 Tupperware boxes with her every time she has a day out with her twins (this is true). That makes me feel bad ‘cos I normally just buy mine a KitKat at the station on the way to wherever we’re going.
And, when my daughter was just a baby, there was the friend who told me that, if I kept swaddling her, she’d have movement issues in her arms. (I did keep doing it, and she’s fine, but it still got me worried.)
Then there’s the friend who has strict rules about things like TV and sweets (none of either except at weekends). I’ll happily bribe mine with a packet of Haribo every night of the week just to get her out of the park.
And there’s one who writes the teary Facebook tome about how she’ll be beside, behind and holding her kids whenever they need her.
And finally, of course, there are the ones who are already planning their postcodes for secondary schools when their kids are barely out of nappies.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a reluctant mum – or an uncaring one. I tell my daughter a million times a day that I love her and, if for any reason, I make her cry, I berate myself all week for it.
But so, so many times a month I feel like everyone else got some handbook I didn’t.
My daughter will never be short on cuddles or confidence – but dry socks when we’re camping? I might not have any to give her ‘cos I just didn’t pack right.
A healthy snack for the journey? Again, I’ve probably rushed out the door and she’ll have to go a bit hungry till we can find a place to buy her some crisps.
Enough money for the college fund? Well, as you might have guessed, I can barely see past the end of the day, let alone to when she’s 18.
Other mums seem to have totally got this stuff down, though. And I admire those parents who just know what to do: they tell their kids how it is, and home life runs according to their rules.
They’ve thought of everything that might be needed for a day out, and their child is never left with wet socks or a hungry tummy.
I’m pretty sure my daughter knows how much I love her: she’d never say I was a rubbish mum, even though, 6 days out of 7, that’s how I feel.
I guess all I can do is pledge to better at all that stuff – the things that take a bit of planning and prep – and become a bit more confident about being a mum.
The good news about it all, I guess, is that, in a world where we don’t feel up to scratch a lot of the time, our kids are a lot more forgiving of us than we are of ourselves. And for that, I’ll be forever thankful ? ?