It all started with a three-hour foray into Lasagne Land. I’m not exaggerating. It took me three hours to make lasagne. I’m pretty sure that’s way over average. Why so long? Because I am inept in the kitchen. I have no other excuse. It takes me twice as long as it should to follow any recipe, afterwards my kitchen looks like someone has been paint-bombing in it and the results are usually poor to mediocre. I can’t cook… or bake for that matter. If you follow my Instagram stories you will have seen plenty of evidence to support this. Need I remind you Insta followers about the fidget spinner cookies? Enough said. Yet today I decided to make homemade lasagne from scratch. None of this buying the white sauce nonsense. Lots of mums I know do it every week. How hard could it be? Three hours later I realised it isn’t as easy as they make it look.
Arms deep in mince and white sauce I had an epiphany. I’m trying to be ‘that mum’. You know the one? The one who is a cross-breed between Nigella and Heston with a sprinkle of Mary Berry thrown in for good measure? I want to be her. Some day when my kids are teenagers I want them and their friends to congregate in my kitchen because Kaeden and Eli’s mum makes the best lasagne, or curry or hot fudge puddings. My fondest memory of childhood is waking up on a Sunday morning to my mum’s fresh baked scones. I can’t make scones. I don’t care if your recipe is fool-proof. I can’t make them. Truth is I can’t be my mum, or ‘that mum’. But it hasn’t stopped me trying.
In June I did the 30-day shred, a ridiculous aerobic work out, because I want to be ‘that mum’, the one standing at the school gate looking incredible in head to toe Lycra. It didn’t take me long to realise I can’t be ‘that mum’.
I bought a bike once because some day I wanted to be ‘that mum’, you know the one that cycles past your house with four smiling, equally-athletic kids following behind her on their bikes, probably on their way to the lakes for a picnic. She probably baked scones for the occasion. So I bought a bike, or rather my bike-loving husband bought me a bike. I nearly died. Literally. I ended up in the middle of the road with cars swerving to miss me. Apparently balance is another deficit of mine. I haven’t been on a bike since. I can’t be ‘that mum’.
So today in Lasagne Land I realised something; for nine years I have been exhausting myself trying (and failing) to be ‘that mum’, the mum I thought I’d be, the mum I want to be, the mum I admire from a distance at the school gate or across the pews at church. Today for the first time in those nine years I admitted defeat. I can’t be ‘that mum’. Sounds ridiculous but a wave of pain washed over me right there in Lasagne Land. I grieved the idea of the mother I would be.
But then in that poignant moment I felt the Holy Spirit whisper, “Why don’t you be this mum instead of that mum?” I think that’s a good plan. I can’t be Mary-Berry-Mum, Lycra-Mum or Bike-Mum but I can be ‘this mum’. I can be the mum who instills kindness, courtesy and work ethic into her kids because that’s who I am. I can be the mum who teaches her kids how to think creatively and love generously, how to value every human being and respect the world around them, because that’s who I am. I can grow men who love God and believe they can change the world for the better because that’s who I am. Someday my boys and their teenage mates will congregate in my kitchen because they are made to feel welcome and loved by ‘this mum’ even if the lasagne was made by Tesco. Nope, I am not Mary-Berry-Mum, Lycra-Mum or Bike-Mum but I am ‘this Mum’ and today I’ve decided that she is enough.
I don’t know the pressure you have placed yourself under to be ‘that mum’ or ‘that kid’ or ‘that employee’ or ‘that friend’ or ‘that spouse’ but maybe it’s time you stopped robbing the world of the person you are, by trying to be the person you are not. Imitation is exhausting. Being the best version of who you actually are is exhilarating.
It was nearly 7pm by the time my kids had their dinner. Surprisingly it was delicious. Will I make it again? Probably not. I’m just not ‘that mum’.