‘It’s OK not to be the perfect mother’

Ayelet Waldman bares all about being a parent

Ayelet Waldman a 44-year-old lawyer turned writer, lives with her husband, novelist Michael Chabon, 46, and their four children, Sophie, 14, Zeke, 11, Rosie, seven, and Abe, six. She tells Daily Mail readers why she believes that no woman is a perfect mother, and the sooner someone stands up for Bad Mothers the better.
Ayelet says competitive parents overload their children with unfair expectations.
She said: The moment I first realised I was a Bad Mother, I was in the park with my three-year-old daughter. Sophie was sitting on the swing, a huge smile on her angelic little face as she cried out: ‘More, Mummy! More!’
“By then I’d already been pushing that swing for over half an hour. I was sick to death of it. My arms were aching and my brain was crying out for something – anything – more stimulating than this.
“Glancing at the mother standing beside me at the swings, I moaned: ‘Aren’t you just bored out of your mind with this?’
“The look of stunned horror on her face froze my blood. She couldn’t have looked more outraged if I’d confessed to feeding my daughter neat vodka for breakfast.
“What had I done that was so terrible? I’d simply admitted that being a mother isn’t always the greatest job in the world, and that while I love my children to bits, motherhood sometimes bores me to tears.
“But, as I gritted my teeth and carried on pushing that wretched swing, I realised three startling truths about being a mother.
“Firstly, that – unique to our generation – we are gripped by the terror that we’re not Good Mothers.
“Secondly, it struck me that so-called Good Mothers can be downright bad for their children. Over-anxious and over-ambitious for their offspring, they risk making them feel like failures.
“Good Mothers don’t just want the best for their children: in their minds, if their sons and daughters are not super-brains with armfuls of certificates, then what have all their maternal sacrifices been for?
“The third horrifying truth is that, far from supporting each other, we mothers are always trying to find fault with each other.
“We openly police each other – desperate to find a mother who’s not as good as us, so we won’t feel so bad.
“And it’s so utterly unfair – because, let’s face it, no one hurls criticism like this at fathers.
Go into a pub or the gym and you won’t find men agonising with each other about whether they’re Good Fathers. After all, what constitutes a good father? Someone who shows up at the birth and is around to read the occasional bedtime story.”

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