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PERFECT ISN’T POSSIBLE

Have you had a chance to see Barbie, Greta Gerwig’s joyously pink extravaganza of a film? Maybe you enjoyed time out with a girlfriend, your sister, or your daughter. Maybe, as I did, you found yourself with tears streaming down your face during America Ferrera’s powerful monologue.
Barbie has just sobbed that she is ‘not good enough for anything.’
Then, Ferrera’s character, Gloria, begins:
‘It is literally impossible to be a woman.’
Gloria goes on to describe the tightrope we all walk, trying to meet society’s expectations of how we look, act, and speak, our motivations being second-guessed and our interactions critically scrutinised.

‘You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard! It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.’

When we’re out with friends and family, there’s a societal pressure to have a beer or a glass of wine.
It’s the norm. But lots of us aren’t aware that alcohol can cause permanent brain damage to a developing fetus, and 50% of us will experience an unplanned pregnancy. I certainly had a beer or three before I discovered the reason for my fatigue and sudden craving for hot chips.

Hard enough to be a woman, but, when you’re a mother as well, it sometimes feels as though everyone’s an expert and you’re just not making the grade.
‘Is your baby a good sleeper?’ ‘Is your baby unsettled?’
‘You should just let her cry!’
When my third baby was born, my eldest was just three and a half years old. I had a kindy girl, a toddler, and a newborn.
Life was hectic, to say the least.
Even going grocery shopping was a massive trial, with judging eyes on me and my children – and heaven help me if there was a public meltdown! (At least once, it was me not one of my children!)

As mothers, we worry about our children and want the very best for them. Are they meeting developmental milestones?
Are they having trouble socialising?
If they need help, we want to find out how best to achieve that for them.
What if the alcohol I had before I knew I was pregnant had caused harm to my baby?
Will I be judged?
Who will help me to help my child?

The other day I heard Stephen Sondheim’s beautiful song from Into The Woods, No One is Alone.
At one point, the lyrics say:

‘People make mistakes.
Fathers
Mothers
People make mistakes.
Honor their mistakes.
Fight for their mistakes.
Everybody makes…’

There is no such thing as a perfect woman or a perfect mother.
That’s a fairy tale.
All we can try to be is good enough.
A good enough woman.
A good enough mother.
Trying our best will be good enough.
Children are resilient.
Our loving arms can hold them.
But who will hold us up?

As a stressed-out young mum, I found my lifeline in a mothering support group. It saved my sanity, provided me with information and resources, pointed me in the right direction to find the help I needed, and gave me lifelong friends.
I called their telephone helpline many times.
This is the great strength that women have – each other.
All the Barbies joined together to work things out, and Gloria found new strength in her new-found sisterhood.
This movie is a fantasy, and reality can be so, so hard.

Into the Woods is a fairy tale, too, but the song finishes with hope:

‘Hard to see the light now.
Just don’t let it go.
Things will come out right now
We can make it so
Someone is on your side
No one is alone.’

Reach out.
Call the NOFASD Helpline: 1800 860 613
Join our online support group, Families Linking with Families.

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