Lately I’ve been feeling a bit anxious about my skill as a mother. I use the word skills lightly because I’m mostly just winging motherhood, I sure as hell don’t think I’m particularly skilled at it. I don’t use the word anxious lightly because, well I’m usually anxious about something.
Between work, motherhood, being a wife, attempting to write and be a blogger, being a friend, sister and daughter it feels as though I’m doing a half assed job of it all. I imagine having this sense of harmony in my life but the contrasting reality is a bit more lopsided. I know that priorities will swing a bit like a pendulum depending on where I’m required and my balance is mostly off balance. I’m trying to remember that it isn’t about a single moment in time and that the scales will often tip from side to side. As long as I don’t go into a complete nose dive I’m okay but like I said, lately my efforts feels just a bit pedestrian. Average. Mediocre.
It’s not so much that I don’t feel like I’m coping – I’m coping fine but it’s just this half assed feeling about it that I can’t seem to shake. This is made worse by the guilt I feel because here’s the thing – what I’m doing is nothing special, a zillion women have babies, raise children, work, stay at home, write, paint, run marathons, manage households and heaps do all of this with or without partners and family support and with more than one child. Holy shit, people do this, plus more, everyday, with a Tarago full of kids so who am I to feel this way with only one child? This in itself makes me feel guilty. I’ve written about mothers guilt here before. It’s not a new emotion for me or for most mothers so take a ticket and get in line but at the moment guilt feels like punishment for wanting to be better. I didn’t spend years in an IVF clinic waiting room without gaining a lesson or two on being grateful for what I have. I’m lucky, I know that.
What I also know, without question, is that my love for Charlie is absolute. Here is a kid who is maddening and magical, fearless and funny. Watching him grow and develop is seriously a privilege and a shit load of fun. Even in the thick of those short but long days he anchors me. Maybe it is because I feel as I owe him to be the best of who I can be and it’s because of this I feel as though I’m letting the side down. It’s made me think about the mother I wish was and it wasn’t hard to make a list:
The mother I wish I was is a lot more chilled. She isn’t ruled by routine but rather goes more with the flow and thinks whatever will be will be. No chill pills required here. She doesn’t hover over her child at the park in case her child eats a tree nut or falls off the wobbly bridge. Instead she races him over the wobbly bridge. She spends less time cleaning up and more time at the arts and craft table. She’s like the female version of Mr Maker, in fact just call me Mrs Maker. She exercises more because she knows she can mother from a better place on those days. The mother I wish I was isn’t always rushing and feeling overwhelmed about all the things she could be, should be doing and she isn’t constantly saying to herself “how do people do this with more than one child?” The mother I wish I was doesn’t wish she had Pinterest worthy pantry but sees the madness in this because really there are far more important things going on. The mother I wish I was would practice mindfulness and be more present not because it sounds fancy and she likes colouring in but because it’s a way to slow my fast beating heart.
I’m not completely beating myself up and don’t get me wrong and I’m not looking for validation that I’m doing fine, I know I’m doing fine, I just think I could do with some performance managing.
Thankfully though, what I have got right, what I do know is this – The mother I am instinctively knows that my decision to not smack my child is the right one for me. The mother I am knows that I’m raising a child who feels loved and happy and supported. I know that even when Charlie loses his shit because I won’t let him sit on my lap whilst driving that he knows I’m the mummy and I’m in charge and even though he might be pissed at my decision, it’s clearly the right one.
If nothing else though, the mother I wish I was cannot possibly love Charlie any more than what the mother I am does.