You paint a lovely picture, but reality intrudes

There’s a mom in my social circle who comes across as a successful woman who’s managed to make everything work despite a stressful career and a demanding home life. And she looks fabulous doing it – with make-up and stylish hair and fashionable clothes and everything. She’s the mom who makes the other moms feel frumpy. Don’t we all know one of those?

She promised to join us at the park last week, and arrived in a flurry of colour and bouncy greetings. Kisses all around and handouts of cookies that she “just picked up at this great little bakery I know”. Her girls looked as cute as ever, in co-ordinated outfits that probably had price tags with triple digits. And she radiated cool confidence as she sat down on the bench with us.

For a moment, the green-eyed monster emerged from his cage and roared. I envied her. She looked so pleased with herself, and radiated the kind of effusive joy that photographers capture for postcards. The children had a wonderful time in the sunshine while we chatted about our jobs, our families and our plans for the weekend. She smiled her way through the conversation while keeping a close eye on her little ones, making sure they weren’t getting dirty. She needn’t have worried – they emerged from the playground without so much as a speck of dust and took their places next to her while she packed up and prepared to go home.

Then my princess came bounding over… And what a sight she was! Grass in her hair, dirt on her knees, sand in her shoes and a sweaty little brow – plus a big, toothy grin. She was the picture of happiness and she made my heart soar. She didn’t care that I was in comfy jeans and an old T-shirt. She was just excited to tell me all about her adventures on the jungle gym and the new friends she’d made.

We walked home quietly and I reminded myself that I am the best mom I can be for her – warts and all, so to speak. And while others may place value on the exterior packaging, my munchkin appreciates what’s on the inside.

The title of this post is borrowed from the lyrics of Real Bad News by Aimee Mann. Find the song on

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