In so many ways hindsight is a wonderful thing. She can help us to re-assess and make changes. Good adjustments that help us do things better in the future, but from where I sit today, looking at my grown up children, hindsight is not my friend. She can fill my heart with regret. I can quickly go down the road of the could’ve, the should’ve, the would’ve but didn’t. She can make my heart sink and take me to a place where I don’t want to be.
It all started with a banana in my handbag. A squishy, “ready for banana bread” kinda banana. Packed as an emergency snack and then forgotten. To add insult to injury, I also found two stinky socks, deep in the recesses of said handbag. This all led to a mini mum meltdown. I felt like throwing myself on the floor, screaming. Was even my handbag not mine anymore? Was there anything left that I hadn’t given up, sacrificed or left on the back burner just because I decided to have children?
I turn on my phone and I read about Charlottesville, about atrocities around the world… I feel helpless. What can this person that I am do to ignite change and inspire love? What difference can I make to the world? I’ve not got substantial amounts of money to donate, or time to give or even much of a sphere of influence. I read, I cry and I pray but as a person of faith I believe I am also called to action. As a builder of community and kingdom, I believe that whatever it is I can do, I need to do. Thus, I need to take stock of what I can do, and at first, it doesn’t seem like much. As Arthur Ashe’s well known quote is drummed into my memory, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”, I go ahead and make a list.
Mum guilt is the weirdest thing I have ever experienced.
When I use the term ‘mum guilt’, I don’t mean the idea of being shamed by another mum. That’s simply ‘mum-shaming’ and I refuse to even touch on that today because I can’t believe it exists. (We’re literally a giant collection of women all doing the same, hard, life-changing job. Can we just stop with the keyboard bashing and the quick tongues? Okay, noooow I’m not going to touch it on it.)
There is something really precious and sweet, lost on our way from childhood to adulthood, isn’t there?
Something big, invisible, beautiful and powerful, something along the lines of innocence and boldness and joy.
Maybe it’s the reason we think of childhood as such a magical time, the reason we look at children with envy, and melancholy and tears in our eyes.
And I wonder… I wonder how we get a glimpse of this fleeting gold in our souls again.
I have seen mothers at their best, and I have seen mothers at their worst.
At our best, mothers unite. We fight for each others’ rights, each others’ kids, each others’ protection, each others’ security. When a fellow mother is worried, we soothe. When a fellow mother is uncertain, we guide. When a fellow mother is about to break from the pressure of it all, we support.
Our little family is moving house in the near future. There are pros and cons to this, most of which I’ll not be aware of until moving time comes. I don’t know where we’ll be next, but the change in itself is inevitable. And because things will change I’ve been trying to be intentionally mindful and appreciative of the things I enjoy about where we are now – friends and family that live close; great local parks; a bath tub; our most excellent housemate and his most excellent dog; a lovely kitchen with a dishwasher and a matching cutlery set owned by said excellent housemate; and did I mention the bath?
Dear Mama: You need to stop thinking you are responsible when your children “ fail ”.
I still remember the first time it happened to me: right after I received and read through my oldest son’s first school report card. Or as they call it here in Western Australia: “Student Achievement Report”. You might have seen this format yourself, where your child gets scored in various categories to be either excellent or not so excellent.
There are so many words that I could use to describe my journey and the different aspects of motherhood: elation, joy, completeness, love, fulfilling, frustrating, tiring, demanding, life-giving, life sapping. But looking back on my journey so far, a phrase I would use to encapsulate all of these words is “a courageous mission”.
I wasn’t sure I would ever be ready to be a mum.
I have always loved the idea of having children. I grew up with a sister and a small group of friends with big families. We went on a ton of vacations, visited extended family interstate often, celebrated every single birthday and, as I got older, family life only became deeper and more tight-knit as we worked through the throes of adulthood together. I knew I wanted to have my own children one day: two, and preferably girls (mainly so I could forcibly pass on all of my beautiful barbie dolls to them).