The Juggle of Modern Motherhood

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.

Then

I was: a designer, an engineer, a manager, a negotiator, a mentor, a teachersuccessful.

 

Now

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!

 
I multi-task!

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.

The Juggle of Modern Motherhood

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.

SuperBusyMum

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

31 thoughts on “The Juggle of Modern Motherhood”

  1. This is a really wonderful post and I loved it,

    I remember dropping balls! Even though I wasn’t working full time, I used to take on to much responsibility. It was a desperate bid not to lose my identity, not to be subsumed into just being someone’s mum.

    I can just about manage a full time job now with my kids much more independent. The six years you describe sound manic. And even though not ideal – well done to you for doing it. As you say stuff has to be done and it has to be squeezed into all your time, and it’s exhausting. But even if you give it up, equally exhausting is the paraphernalia of childhood that comes with three children.

    Thank you for your insights, and for the glowing description of how it feels to accept and relax into the role of mothering.

    1. Thank you Denise, that means a lot. I feel much more comfortable in myself now, although I have bad days – and days where I have a bit of an identity crisis! – I’m in the right place, and I’m get quite good at juggling :)

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  3. It really is hard to balance it all! I could definitely relate to this post, reflecting on my own decision to leave working full time after having my 2nd child. After staying home with my kids for over a year, I returned to work part-time, which really works for me & my family. I often wonder why school / work can’t have more flexible schedules to make it easier on families. You’re right though – it is a true blessing to raise your children – however you decide to do it!

    1. Thank you x I think that we each make it work in whatever way we need/want to. My job didn’t really work part-time, no ones fault – with Clients it’s just hard to switch off – and it became impossible to keep everything going. I imagine I will return to work at some point, although probably not to do what I was doing before!

  4. I agree with you in that the ‘balls’ we are juggling are very often ones that society has placed upon us and we don’t necessarily want! Most of all, mine stay in the air out of guilt – lets drop a few and not bother picking them up again! Great post :)

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  6. I think you’re amazing lovely, and I’m tired just reading what you do! I think we need to stop judging other mothers for working or not. We each give every day our all with our little ones. Yours are very lucky xx

  7. I absolutely LOVE this Sara! I really do think it’s important as a mum to accept the fact that we simply can not have everything and be super happy all the time. I think the way you describe your role now is just marvellous :-)

    [Certainly in the circles I mix in] bringing up children does not mean sitting on backsides watching trashy tv. It’s a full time job in itself, and hats off to those who do make working work well for their family. I can just about cope with two days in the office!

    Fabulous post xxx #/brilliantblogposts

    1. Thank you so much. It’s a post I put a lot of thought into at the time I wrote it, it was interesting and somewhat reassuring to review my role now and realise how much I do, and that it’s okay to drop balls!

  8. Hello Boston from Bristol! I was really in the mood for a post like this today. It’s 6am, my baby has had a fever all night, and I have a full day at work today. Not sure what ball to drop first. Thanks for the inspiration #brilliantblogposts

    1. Oh, that’s a lovely comment to get! I’m so glad. I hope you managed to juggle ok today, it’s so hard sometimes x

  9. PottyMouthedMummy

    Yes yes yes, so true. You are very right about the compromise. We have little changes that have helped me feel “”some”” of the time that I am coping. We have a cleaner (so I don’t spend all weekend doing it). I go in later so I can get H ready in the morning and have extra cuddles. I leave on the dot at 5pm (so I can be home at 6.45) and log in again once he goes to sleep. On certain weeks I give myself a self five but then there are weeks where all the balls are toppled to the ground. Love that we are all doing the same thing really, no matter where we are of if we’re working or not xx #brilliantblogposts

    1. I think it’s tough however we’re doing it, it’s a tough job! I used to leave the house super early, before the kids were even up! But, it meant I could leave at 4.00 and pick them up from nursery… got a bit more complicated when my eldest started school! Staying home is wonderful, but honestly is just as much work, it’s just different work. But, all we can do is our best x

  10. Really lovely post, and these issues used to bug me, as well. I have come to the realization that no matter how manicured and perfect everyone tries to make their lives out to be, life is hard for everyone! Everyone has a story to tell and a burden to bear. I’m lucky to have some very down-to-earth friends and family that expose this dark underbelly of motherhood and life in general, making me remember that my crazy is normal.

    1. You’re absolutely right, we all have stuff to deal with, and the one thing we really mustn’t do is judge each other. We’re just doing the best we can x

  11. That is a brilliant post, Sara. It is all so true. It must have been great putting it all down to paper (well, typing it all!). x Mel #BrillBlogPosts

    1. It was a good one to write, I wrote it a little while ago, but it does me well to reread it every so often x

  12. This is so what I needed to read right now! I’ve been musing on my identity as a mother for a while, how strange it is for me as a SAHM to have everything I previously identified myself by swept away and replaced with something which I’ve wanted for forever and yet is so much more intangible than my previous career driven existence… I won’t go on too much here but there’s definitely a blog post brewing! xx

    1. I still find it hard some days, I struggle with feeling ‘productive’, or not as the case may be! But, it’s still the best decision I’ve made x

  13. I’ve always said to be a parent is to be a juggler. I am a full time working mummy so I can only comment on my own experiences, I agree that life is hectic, sometimes difficult to balance, I have had to learn as have my clients and employers that at certain times of the day, I am not available and will not be made to feel guilty for putting my phone away. Is every email really a life or death situation, if something is that urgent, pick up the phone.

    1. Absolutely, it’s a hard to balance everything, but you’re absolutely right that sometimes you just have to say no. Although, that can be a tough thing to learn how to do!

  14. You are incredible, we all are and whether we work or stay at home, we are forever juggling aren’t we. I loved this post-Thanks for linking up to #brilliantblogposts

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