A while ago I wrote a post that touched on identity as a mother.
I found myself re-imagining my previous, career oriented, roles around my current role as a stay at home mum.
I was: a designer, an engineer, a manager, a negotiator, a mentor, a teacher – successful.
I am: a designer of activities; an engineer of games; a manager of time, the household, homework and expectations; a negotiator of sharing toys, eating enough dinner, rewards and punishments; a mentor and role model; a teacher of right and wrong, consideration and empathy, discipline and control – of life lessons; I am successful!
For the first six years of my life as a mother I worked (all but) full time. Four days a week was never four days. Work always stretched into my day off, into the weekends. There was always a priority, an urgent task, a report that needed to be finished, something that couldn’t wait.
So, I juggled.
I left the house before the kids woke up, I left work early to pick them up from nursery. I made dinner, fed them, we put them to bed. I never played with them during the week. The weekends were a whirl of domestic activity. The shopping, the housework (although latterly I admitted defeat on that one and employed a cleaner…), loads of washing, cooking. There was always something that needed to be done (or an email that had to be answered).
I dropped balls all over the place!
Then the 7yo started school and I fell pregnant with the wee girl.
I juggled a bit more. Meetings that had to be rearranged around school runs. Work that had to be finished in the evening. Homework, and yet more homework. Fancy dress costumes. Play dates. Earlier starts. Less sleep. Morning sickness!
In the end I realised that it simply wasn’t working. When I left for maternity leave, I was fairly sure I wouldn’t go back.
I don’t believe that it is possible to do everything, all the time. I do believe however, that it’s possible to do most things most of the time. But, you have to prioritise, you have accept changes, you have to compromise.
I am no longer a working mum, but do I juggle any less now? Or course not. I may not be working, but I don’t have full time child care, (or a cleaner!) anymore. I have replaced one set of expectations with another. One set of balls with another.
I am: a taxi; a social secretary; a cook; a cleaner; a technical advisor; a homework supervisor; a manager of all activities, classes, games, play dates, projects, fund raisers, events and parties; a mediator and negotiator; a nurse, a teacher; a mother.
But, I am also: a blogger; a would be writer; a frustrated artist; a lover of books, wine and nonsense television; a wife.
That’s a lot of balls!
I wonder whether motherhood is really any different in our modern world? Have technical advances made our lives easier or more complicated? Are our expectations different?
At it’s heart, motherhood is about nurturing, teaching and guiding our children. Helping them to become independent, confident and, above all, happy individuals. That can’t be different.
But our modern, all access, media driven society brings different challenges. We feel so much more visible when we fail, when all those balls go tumbling to the ground.
We hold ourselves up against the sanitised ‘truth’ of Facebook updates. We see others who appear to ‘have it all’. We have celebrities (A list to D list) extolling the joys of motherhood, and the flat stomach, perky boobs and hit movie/song that followed within weeks of the birth. We have reports claiming that we are damaging our children by working, by not working, by using nurseries or childminders or nannies, or none of the above.
And yet, we continue to juggle as best we can; through the compromises and the failures; through exhaustion and tears and guilt; with laughter and excitement; with joy and pride.
We all muddle through, whether we work full time, part time or not at all (although that last one depends on your view point!).
We have good days and bad. Sometimes we come out ahead and sometimes we feel like we’re walking uphill through all the clothes and dishes and clutter and mess; the unfinished school projects and the cupcakes for the next bake sale.
But, on all of those days, I remind myself how lucky I am. I am living the life I have chosen. I have the luxury of watching my children grow and learn and be happy.
I wouldn’t change a thing.
This is my entry to the Mum Network Trusted Blogger Club Autumn Blog Carnival.