person-409127__180I found myself in an unfamiliar place the other day. I looked around me, feeling completely lost. I didn’t know which way to turn- and a voice whispered to me, this shouldn’t be me– I shouldn’t be doing this. I was absolutely terrified, and I had no choice.

I was in Aisle 1 of the supermarket.

Now I am not the grocery shopper in my household. My husband loves the supermarket catalogues, and has turned the weekly grocery shop into an Olympic level sport. He knows how to get the bargains; he can tell you exactly how many cents a load of washing costs us, and where to get the correct pretzels for our fussy family.

When other mums stand around and talk about how the cost of butter has gone up I nod along, but I’m faking it. I wouldn’t know at all. I am not good at shopping, and I make my husband cringe when I have to do it for a week. This is my normal decision process: “oooh, haven’t made tacos for a while, let’s get that; look, it’s a new magazine; and of course I need some girly coloured sprinkles, and look! It’s a wooden spoon!”

I won’t discuss the result of my last shop, all I have to say is that my beloved is correct. He should do the shopping. I won’t beat myself up about it, It’s just not my sphere- and nor does it have to be! Who I am as a mum is different to the other mums I observe- and just as well! I don’t have the same family, so my tactics need to be different.

I’m the mum who gets seriously competitive when my son beats me at Mario Kart again, and who tears up the turf if someone deletes MY Minecraft world. I’m the one who gives my children long speeches about Shakespearean theatre, and insists on discussing story structure with my eldest child for his assessments at school. I lecture my kids on boring things until their eyes glaze over, or they pass out- whichever comes first. I can make delicious meals that are usually ready five minutes before everyone needs to be in bed.

images (28)I’m the mum who goes to IEP meetings at the school for my two Asperger’s boys, and makes the meeting longer because I’m just trying to make the teachers laugh. I’m the mum who forgets to do cupcakes for the class until just before we leave for school that day. I’m the mum who imitates my daughter’s scowls and tantrums until she laughs- not that she appreciates this at all. And I’m the mum who will still say “don’t worry, you’re still a good mum” when you tell me that you want to advertise your children free to good homes. We’ve all been there.

There is a sphere for all of us to occupy, and there is no one person who can occupy every sphere. We need the powerful mum organisers, we need the quiet introspective mums. We need creative mums, witty mums, mums who don’t have it together. We need mums who have grieved, mums who know how to live through pain. We need the mums who are jokers, mums who know how to have a good cry- mums who cook, and others who don’t know how to boil water!

My children need me to be myself and I come first in their hearts, but they can also be impacted by other mothers who can understand things that I can’t. I don’t have to be an expert on everything for my children to turn out okay! The old saying is that a village raises a child, and even in this day and age I can see that it’s true. In the process of life, we mother a few children of our own – but in turn, we mother other kids who need it too. Think of your own childhood- how many extra mums did you have out there? My best friends had mothers who stepped in when my mum couldn’t. I cried on their shoulders after my heart got broken, when I failed at tests, and lastly when my mother had cancer. Their sphere somehow had room for me as well.

I want to ask us all a question – what if in accepting our sphere, we embrace who we are- not just for our children’s sakes, but for the good of many more? What if the impact of a woman who loves is bigger than our own households, bigger than just this generation?

The world needs us to be us- the world needs mums of all kinds to administer hugs and band aids, to love unconditionally. To fuss over warm clothes and whether someone ate enough, to remind you that everything will be alright. The MOPS motto is that Better Mums make a Better world– and they do. Your world needs you, exactly as you are- so take your place in your sphere. Be the unique mum that you are, for your children and the generations to come.

As for me; if the bleeding heart, game playing, pen-toting, inappropriate joke making, can’t-cook-dinner-on-time Shakespeare-quoting mum is what is needed today, you’ll find me out and about doing my thing.

Just not in a supermarket. I’ll leave that to the professionals….

cate stephensCate Stephens
MOPS Writing Team

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