The Myth of Happy Families – Why it Just Can’t Work… and How You’re Doing Just Fine

How’s your day?

Chances are you’re tired. Or beating yourself up at getting cross with a child. Or have just had to break up a fight. Or are hiding on the internet just to get five minutes peace.

Or perhaps you are feeling very chuffed because for the last half an hour everything has gone perfectly. You are, for the moment anyway, living the dream. You ARE the perfect parent.

But then the baby will start screaming uncontrollably… the older kids will start yelling…you will long for a moment’s peace…. and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll feel like a failure, again.

As a mother your job is to be the creator and sustainer of love, peace and harmony. At all times. Anything less and you’ve failed. Especially if the outburst is coming from YOU at the end of your tether. (I may, perhaps, be speaking from experience here!)

The biggest myth about having kids, is that everyday is supposed to be saccharine happy, with everyone in perfect harmony. And that it is your moral responsibility.

STOP THE LIGHTS and BREATHE!

The best thing you can do for your sanity, is stop believing this rubbish!  It’s only taken me 8 1/2 years to realise this!  So if you’re just starting out, go easy on yourself!

We were standing in the kitchen this morning, Mr Dreaming Aloud feeling despondent because our girls were being cranky with him, I was being cranky with him, the kids were bickering on the sofa… and had been since the moment they woke up.

A sudden realisation hit me: this is how it is 70% of the time…. Someone in the family is out of sorts about something. Yet we spend our whole time denying this, resisting it, getting angry about it: thinking it should all be roses and hearts, holding hands and walking into the sunshine. Because that’s the way were told it should be.

All the movies show it.  All books show it. Permanently smiling children. Permanently smiling parents.

We know they’re fiction – but some part of our souls holds it as incontrovertible truth, and holds us ransom to it.

Sure we can do it in the outside world.  We do with our friends, they do it with their friends. We’re pretty good at playing happy families on best behaviour.

But the door closes. And here we are, together again, in private with the housework and homework, tired, hungry, overwhelmed, wanting space, frustrated, bored, sick…

Home is where we do real life. Home is where we get to be real people. Where we hide away our unshowable parts and get to be antisocial when we are sick, feeling alone, tired, when the weather’s bad, when life’s just kicked us hard between the teeth, when our hearts are breaking or depression pulls us down. This is where we get to be unvarnished, veruccas, stretch marks and all.

And a lot of the time it aint pretty. At least not in the way we are taught pretty SHOULD be… But it is real.

This is where we get to grow. Home is our growing edge. Our creative crucible of soul.

Our perfect vision of how parenting will be, should be, is a cardboard cut out.  It doesn’t leave any room for human mess: surfaces covered in junk, unwashed dishes, peed on sheets, engorged breasts and milk stained tops, bickering over who got the least sleep, the sour milk in your coffee, baby waking up just as you manage to get into the shower…  after hours of waiting.

In a movie it’s funny, we see the ridiculous side of it.  But in real life, it often feels rather depressing. We want to be living in technicolour, we just want the kisses without the tears; the cute paintings without all the mess; the well-fed baby without the puke; the sleeping angel, without the bed time nightmare that precedes it.

What we want is the life that we see in the perfect family portrait: well lit, clean faces and clothes, everyone smiling, hanging on the sitting room wall with pride. We define ourselves by this. This is who we REALLY are, we tell ourselves. The rest is just a mistake, an inconvenience, a failure. We conveniently edit it from our memories, write it off as “not really us”.

But what if the crankiness, mayhem, madness, mess, mishaps and tears are an integral a part of the process that creates that magical moment which we capture and frame? They are us too. Life is the creative process, the endless churning and changing of a family in flux, individuals like atoms spinning here and there, only for a moment vibrating at the same frequency, then it takes just one to shift slightly and we have dissonance again.  Dissonance, not harmony, is the normal state of affairs… though our peace loving hippy selves wish otherwise.

Family living is the ultimate creativity.  There will be paints on the table, puke on your shoulder, poop on your fingers…  And possibly the bottom of your shoe!  Tears and tantrums are all part of the process.  From all of us!  This messiness behind the scenes, is like the artist at work, creating the most beautiful work of art: a human family.

Being a first-time mama is an amazing experience. The New Mama Welcome Pack blog hop is a celebration of this life changing event!

Follow the links to discover more unmissable advice, stories and essential tips. And if you’re a new mama who wants to rock motherhood without guilt, overwhelm or losing yourself, check out the New Mama Welcome Pack here.

New Mama Welcome Pack / Lotte Lane / Dreaming Aloud / Zhendria / Birthing in Conscious Choice / Natalie Garay / Eli Trier / Knecht Ruprecht / Lise Meijer / Naomi Goodlet / A Lifestyle By Design / Story of Mum / Like a Bird / Holistic Mama / Birth Geek / Joyful Parenting / Stroller Packing / My Healthy Beginning / Mums and More / Kate Beddow – Growing Spirits / Joyful Courage / Ellen Nightingale / Stacie Whitney / Maternity Leavers / Photography for Busy Parents / Close Enough To Kiss / Atelier Susana Tavares / Offbeat Family / Katie m. Berggren ~ Painting Motherhood / Winship Wellness Blog / Liberate From Weight / Jessica Cary / Art + Craft / Raising Playful Tots / Peaceful Mothering / Play Activities / Lauren Nenna / Nurture You / MummaBliss / The Adventure Mama / Be Wise Be Healthy / b.a.d.momGoodmom / Doula in Your Pocket / Making Mom Strong / Adrienn Csoknyay / Joyful Parents / Alison Hummel / Simple Solutions for Photos / Lynne Newman / Euphoric Birth / Mumpreneur Mentor / A Walk in the Clouds / Parenting on the Fence / MiaMily

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