The Best Part Of Motherhood? Not Giving A Crap What Anyone Thinks

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My day last week began rather inauspiciously, with a stumble, then a tumble while locking my bike in front of the building where I’d been “auditioning” for a job (my bike didn’t make it unscathed either). Once in my meeting I let out a huge sneeze; then, instead of excusing myself, without quite realizing why, I said “bless you” to myself (cue nervous laughter – mine and everyone else’s). I mangled an answer to an important question from the publisher. Later, walking into the middle of a quiet lecture, I knocked over a deep pile of leaflets. “Ooh. That’s embarrassing,” murmured an onlooker. Finally, at the drinks afterwards, an organizer told me off for standing in high heels on a very important display. Oops.

Five years ago any one of these incidents would have brought about sheer mortification. I’ve never dealt well with being singled out – even worse for doing something utterly daft. But the other day it struck me that I’ve changed. Perhaps it was living through the indignity of two messy births; knowing the entire neighborhood has witnessed my lactating breasts; or apologizing for my children’s appalling behavior so often it ultimately seemed silly even to bother. Maybe it was turning 40 and finally accepting my awkward years are behind me. Whatever the reason: nowadays I simply don’t give a shit.

Time was I’d spend the first hour in bed at night unable to sleep while replaying in my head all the faux pas I’d committed. But too many of those amounted to nothing – the witnesses rarely remembered them ever happening – that I’ve trained myself not to care. And, anyway, as a mom with two small children, my sleep is too precious to waste composing zingers I should have used earlier in the day.

But it’s more than just not having the time to worry what other people think. My life as a mother throws more challenges my way than I’ve ever had in a given day. Sure, some of those turn into failures. Yet more than not I’m able to tackle them. And that brings me a great level of satisfaction and self-assurance. Some children kneel by the bed at night and try to remember the things they’re thankful for; I look over the to-do list and count the items ticked off. How can that not feel good?

Surrounding yourself primarily with people you trust and care about is another residual effect of age and motherhood that forms a callus around your ego. It’s easier with all the commitments motherhood entails to cut the chaff from your life: frenemies who fill your life with drama; saddos who just can’t see the big picture; even colleagues who never learned the word “teamwork.” When I think back on all those hours I obsessed over other people’s opinions… well, let’s just say it feels good to know they’re fading into the past.

I can’t say I don’t have my sensitive days. We all have our moments. But few are the times a simple “oh well” can’t bring closure to an awkward incident. Soon enough old age will play a part in all sorts of embarrassing stuff, so I’ll need to hone my newfound talent for shrugging things off like water off a duck’s back. Just today, in the madness of the morning, I missed my mug and poured half a pot of coffee into the sugar canister. This time it was my daughter’s turn to point and laugh. Me, I just cleaned up the mess, bought another kilo of sugar and refilled the canister. Then I ticked it off my to-do list. Ahh.

(Photo: Digital Vision)