This is me having got the three children back into school after half term. It’s been a hectic couple of weeks with visitors and travelling to see family and friends over the break. I’ve filled up on good conversation, soul food and laughter over the past fortnight but there comes a point when I crave the solidity of routine again.
I’ve also had a burst of inspiration and energy about some new projects I’m working on and I’ve been itching to get decent blocks of time and space to knuckle down and do some work. I find it near impossible to grab a half hour here and there while the children are around and they resent any time I give to ‘work’ if I’m with them, even if they are happy on their screens.
I’ve been so inspired recently by women like Kate Northrup and Danielle LaPorte who unashamedly embrace entrepreneurship and motherhood and help others do the same. I’ve been connected to an online community of women over the past six months who are all attempting to negotiate their own businesses and families and it’s been amazing to see what you can achieve given the right amount of nouse and support.
This morning, after I dropped the children off at their schools, I went for a leisurely walk along the beautiful beach near where we live. The solitude was soothing as the sea slapped against the wall, the previous night’s full moon tugging the tide all the way in. I collected a couple of messages from our corner store and got home, tidied myself up and got down to work.
Needless to say, my monkey brain found it difficult to focus on one thing and I ended up starting about three different tasks and leaving them all unfinished by the time it came to go get the children from their grandfather’s house. I spent the rest of the afternoon, making dinner, navigating homework, negotiating peace deals and itching to get back to my list of ‘to do’ – to feel some sense of achievement as if that would validate my day and make up for two weeks of apparent sloth.
It was only when I was settling the Littlest Angel to sleep that I stopped myself in my tracks. I kissed his cheek and a memory came flooding back of the nights I’d nurse him to sleep and he’d have that delicious milk-drunk look on his face. I used to bend my face to his and cover it with kisses just because I could.
All of a sudden, he’s three and a half with a technicolour personality and the will to push me away if my kisses become an intrusion. He still loves to fall asleep holding my ring finger but that might not last much longer.
Here I was rushing my children to sleep so that I could get back to work when maybe, it was enough to mother today. How is it that despite my championing of mothers and motherhood, I still undervalue myself in the role? I’m in the very privileged position of being able to be at home with my children and while it’s never felt like a natural fit, I’ve grown in confidence and found a way of being at home that works. I still think that my husband would do a far better job at managing our home than me. I still think his naturally patient and nurturing way with our children would make their day to day more fun and easy going. But I’ve come to believe that I am actually a good mum and I’m doing an alright job of being at home.
I love my creative work, my entrepreneurial adventures. I know what fills me up and makes me feel alive and on purpose and I feel fortunate when I get the opportunity to do what I love. But I often make the mistake of lessening the impact of my mothering by imagining that my value as a person comes from my non-mothering work.
And it’s enough to mother. It’s enough to make lunches, tie ties, send cheerful children to school confident that they are loved. It’s enough to power through the laundry, wash dishes, tidy for the umpteenth time and stock the fridge. It’s enough to sit through times tables, spellings, reading, silly toilet jokes, knock knock jokes, makey up jokes that aren’t even funny but because they are invented by your three year old, you laugh anyway. It’s enough to make their favourite dinner because you know they’ll eat it, even though there’s a nagging voice in your head that there should be more green on the plate. It’s enough to lie down with each of them, listen to their hearts, defences finally down as they relax into sleep. It’s enough to kiss their faces despite their laughing protests because they may be nearly 10, 7 and 3 but they’ll always be your babies.
That’s a good day’s work after all.
And isn’t it all mothering anyway? Building something that can bring in an income around your children’s lives, modelling perseverance and grit and determination and passion. Dreaming and having vision and then doing what is needed to bring it into reality.
It’s enough to mother. It’s enough to be me. I’m enough.
‘Diane and her girls’
photo credit: Damian Jackson