I suffer from a condition. Not medically recognised, and without any pharmaceutical cure, it’s called “Mum envy.” It’s symptoms, which are feelings of inferiority and jealousy varying from mild to extreme, are triggered by direct contact with the following type of mum:
Glam-Mum: Glossy hair, manicured nails, perfect make-up, fashionable clothes and an elasticated body that sprang back into shape the minute her child was born.
Domestic-Goddess-Mum: Has an immaculate house with children who tidy up after themselves. Cooks healthy, nutritious meals from scratch each day and oozes serenity whilst wearing a Cath Kidston apron and holding a whisk.
Crafty-Mum: Is able to make a moving, light-up robot out of a toilet roll and a yoghurt pot and decorates her home with beautiful furnishings made out of old cable-knit jumpers.
Rich-Mum: Carries the latest Gucci handbag and doesn’t wear a diamond unless it weighs a carat or more.
Calm-mum: Is able to remain calm even when her child is lying on the floor screaming in Asda, soothingly asking “Do you think this is a good idea darling?”
Stay-at-home-Mum: Doesn’t have to go to work every day and I do. Enough said.
I have discovered that Mum envy is actually quite common – it’s nothing to be ashamed of, lots of mums have it to some degree or another, and controlling it is much more about bringing ourselves up, rather than putting the other mum down (which can be easy to do as you believe it will make you feel better - it doesn't.)
I have also discovered that the way to manage mum envy is to self-medicate. If you recognise any of the symptoms I have mentioned above, then I would recommend the following:
· Make an effort to get to know the mum who is the subject of your envy. Chances are she’s really nice and has no intention of making you feel shitty. She probably has hang-up’s of her own.
· Recognise the good things in yourself. So Glam-mum is a size 6 – so what? She might be envious of your big boobs or shapley backside, or the fact that you don't have to spend hours straightening your hair every day.
· Learn from the Mums you are envious of. If you’re envious because you’d like to be more like them, then they are your best teacher.
· Take a compliment: Compliments make you feel better about yourself - This is a personal downfall of mine, I am crap at taking compliments. Don’t do what I do, if someone tells you you look nice, say “thank you” and not “fuck off.”
· Do things that make you happy: Crafty mum is happy because she’s crafty. Domestic-Goddess-mum is happy because she has a clean home. I bet the most envied mum of all is Happy-Mum! Happy-Mum always looks gorgeous simply because she’s smiling J
I have started doing these things, and you know what? They work! For me, anyway. By starting to recognise that NO mum is perfect, and I am NOT in competition with the other mums around me, that I CAN find the time to do things just for myself that make me happy, I am losing my mum envy. Of course, it will never be completely cured, not now that Beyonce has had a baby. And I don’t want to lose it completely anyway, as it means I always recognise there’s room for improvement... The mum I envy the least is the one who believes she is perfect.