And the proximity to perfection goes on...my kitchen is spotless apart from the large pile of papers, plastic Iggle Piggles and single socks that sit expectantly in the corner waiting for a home; my flapjacks taste great but always have to be chiselled out of the tray and caught whilst flying across the room; I'm excellent at reading Bear Hunt for the five-hundredth time, until we get to Swirling Whirling Snowstorm, when I always start drifting off and dreaming of exotic holidays before having my concentration sharply re-set by a tetchy toddler.
If ever there is an opportunity to suggest I am NOT the Perfect Mother, my children enjoy taking it. Being under five, they understand there are boundaries...and that boundaries are there to be pushed and tested (as are mothers). And aren’t children clever? They've perfected the art of acting like little darlings when you’re home alone with no one to show off to, yet the minute you get in front of the in-laws or your 'Perfect Friend' (we've all got one), you end up boring yourself with the number of times you desperately say "he's never like this", "she's usually got such good manners".
My Perfect Friend came to stay one day when we went to the Bristol Food & Wine fair. Having behaved beautifully all morning, my son decided to go for an Oscar performance at the entrance to the fair (nice and public, you see), all because of The Buggy Battle. He’s inherited my dramatic gene and therefore any tantrum sounds rather more alarming and sinister than it actually is. Quite used to the hyperventilating wails, my husband and I battled on regardless against the 98th percentile force, and tried to locate some straps from under his bottom whilst shoe horning him into the seat. At which point a yellow-jacketed security steward hurried up with a face full of concern and asked if we’d like him to escort us to the First Aid tent. I laughed – before realising he was entirely serious – and calmly explained that this was neither health nor life-threatening, but entirely normal (to us at least).
And that's just it. We can only truly judge ourselves by our own benchmarks - those that are closely guarded behind our own front door - and not by the standards we set ourselves based on how well we think everyone else is managing this motherhood lark. There IS no such thing as The Perfect Mother, but it would make parenting a darn site easier if we were all a bit more honest about where we go right, where we go wrong and what sometimes keeps us awake at night (as well as trying to have a giggle at the same time). And that's why I've started this blog.