Motherhood, Work Life Balance

Enough

14th November 2014

So many things I do every day, some days the same things repetitively, other days a whole host of other tasks.  But are they enough?

 

I hug and kiss the kids countless times every day, and tell them I love them just as often.  But is that enough?  Is that enough times to tell them how special and amazing they are in my eyes?  Is it too much that they then think they are invincible?  Am I finding the correct balance of supporting their growth and development or am I doing to much for them? Am I providing enough educational structure in the daily patterns of life that one day they too can walk independently and survive?

 

So.  Many.  Questions.  So much self doubt.  There is no guide book.  There are no rules for this crazy gig called Motherhood.  What I let my kids do, others don’t, and vice versa.  Then there is the conundrum of comparisons.  They have _____; and we don’t.  We have _____ and they don’t.  Is it a flaw to admit as a mother you don’t actually know all the answers?

 

I don’t think it is a flaw.  Because I am admitting right now that I don’t know if what I am doing is always right, or if it is the best option.  I don’t know if I am raising my tiny humans the ‘right’ way; or if there even is a right way.  All I know is that I am doing my best.  Every night I when they are asleep and I get that bit of quiet time, I reflect on the events of the day, and plan and sort out the day to come; and it is in these moments that the seeds of self doubt can be planted.  Some nights I wish that I did not get as cranky, or that I chose my battles better.  Some nights, before her bed time,  I argue with Caitlyn for a good 10 minutes about what pajamas she is going to wear.  It really does not matter that she wants to wear winter pajamas in summer, but I still argue the logic of it being too hot.  It is all about choosing your battles I think.  Who cares if she wants to wear winter pajamas?  In the scheme of things, it is a blip, but with the ‘Mum’ hat on, I wonder, and then argue with her anyway.

 

Are they getting enough vegetables?  Protein, dairy, fruit?  Are some battles worth the tears?  Is it worth negotiations for an hour for a kid to eat 2 tablespoons of vegies?  I don’t know.  I really don’t know.  And this is where I know I cannot possibly be alone.  I cannot be the only mum worrying about how much is too much, and how much is enough!  Tea time always seems to be a tiring affair.  Long days full of play, imagination, drawing (some times even on paper and not walls!), riding and running leaves tiny humans tired, cranky and is the precursor to arsenic hour.  That delightful hour right before bed and bath.  Where every day you think that rocking in a corner drooling is sometimes a better alternative; or you find yourself really having to count to ten before you let fly what you really think/feel about Peppa bloody Pig.  If they don’t have the right fuel, I worry that their minds won’t grow as well as they should or could.  And then they have those moments where they say or do something so incredibly beyond their years and you know, in some small scale, that you must be doing something right.

 

But doubt underlies many of my decisions.  The kids want fairy bread for lunch.  The mum in you stalls and thinks, ‘oh but it is not that healthy’….and then the fun person that actually does exist in there upon occasion rips out the 100s and 1000s and starts decorating bread with it.  Mesmerised by the absolute delight of fairy bread and pure joy that the kids get when they have it – this is fun!   Then the doubt – and the compensation – well now we will need to have extra fruit and vegies to account for it.  Am I an idiot?!!  Peanut butter is about as healthy as a log.  How is 100s and 1000s any worse?  All these notions running through my head that by letting the kids have fairy bread for lunch is bad mothering.  I need to give myself a break!  I have no idea to what standard I am holding myself too some days – other than the ‘perfect’ mother.

 

I don’t know how you can grade your parenting skills, or really even check that you are doing ok.  Because sometimes we are own worst critics.  Take the school pick ups and drop offs.  Its a zoo.  And there is always the ‘cool mums’ that look effortlessly calm and seem to have a bucket load more patience than what I could muster for an entire week!  I look longingly at them and wonder how they do it.  How do they look so relaxed, calm and ‘together’?  I don’t think I even look relaxed asleep!  I always feel as though I don’t fit in – partly due to the fact that I don’t arrive early to hang out, and partly because my mind is always running along with all the things I need to get done.  I look preoccupied.  I probably don’t look all that approachable in my 6″2 stance and rapid walking pace.  But again, that is me holding myself to a notion of what a perfect mother is.  I am beating myself up about things I cannot change, and I need to start being a little more mindful of how this might affect my kids – far more upsetting than not eating vegies or not getting enough sleep, but how my behaviour might shape theirs.

 

What is shaping their identities and personalities is their exposure daily to not only me, but to everyone and everything else.  They learn so many things about how to interact and communicate with other people just by going through their day.  They see my responses and actions to happenings and take those on board. My likes and dislikes absolutely sway theirs.  My negotiations, my conversations; are all heard by four little sets of ears.  Which is obviously always highlighted when you swear and then they do – and at the most inopportune times, making me feel even worse!    So am I showing enough compassion, enough respect, enough motivation?  Are they learning bad habits already from me?  I often take over, or finish off things they have started as it is easier (for me) and more effective in terms of time management.  But it is not the best outcome.  I have to learn to let them do things their way, rather than mine, as that is part of their way of finding themselves in this crazy world.  I think because I work, I overcompensate.  I get heavily involved in their kindy and school, and make it imperative that I know their teachers and their curriculum.  I help out wherever I can.  Often to my own detriment.  But I want them to know that their school/kindy is just as important to me.

 

The kids don’t yet have that filter adults do where we know it is not polite to say certain things.  I try and explain to them what is not polite to talk about and what is, but kids are spontaneous creatures.  So out grocery shopping, a usual daily task, Emma makes a choking sound and then utters “Mum I can taste someones bum, why would they do that here’ (as in relieve themselves of wind)?  Now, a very big part of me wants to just agree, and laugh like the rest of the kids.  But I can’t!  It is not public manners to challenge the person who dropped it.  I try to change the subject, but the kids then decide they are going to be bum noise detectives and search out the foul offender.  The offender clearly was a middle aged man who was going bright red.  Mortified that he had been caught out on a massive scale he did not know where to look or what to say; and was hurriedly trying to move aisles ahead of us.  I really was trying to downplay the situation, and stop the detectives in their tracks.  The thing with four kids is that you are always outnumbered, always.  Fellow shoppers were in stitches laughing at the seriousness of my lot trying to find who left that ‘invisible mess’ for Emma to gag on.  The thing is, they were not rude about it, but it is not commonplace to investigate surely?!  It is like the great societal faux pas – but it always goes unchallenged.  Elevator, shopping aisle, adults generally walk on, and say nothing.  Kids on the other hand feel the need to find out!

 

I wish there was an easy way to ‘check’ how I am going as a Mum.  I observe four happy, healthy and well nourished kids (despite complaints of starvation from about 4pm onwards every day).  They are active, they interact and they communicate {mostly} appropriately.  They can follow and understand direction –  although they chose not too on many occasions.  They know that not all Mums and Dads work, and sometimes try to use the guilt card when I do go to work.  They know that they are unconditionally loved, and already like to say “Mum, you know how much I love you” as a precursor to telling me that they have broken something or done something wrong.  They know the difference between right and wrong and have enough insight to make fairly reasonable decisions about their behaviour at kindy and school.  They can pick me out of a crowd, tell me I have a special smell and am the only one that can make cake/sandwiches/muffins/whatever the way they like it.  Is this enough?  Is there more I should be teaching and doing with them so they are going to be strong enough to stand up for themselves?  I don’t know the answer.  Because all I am doing is all that I think I can.  I don’t think it is possible to love any more than I do, and I think if I tried and protected them from anything else they would be scared of their own shadows.  No one tells you this stuff when you are holding that baby in your arms for the first time.  That first moment of motherhood.  Motherhood is nothing like I expected.  It is more, don’t get me wrong, but it is not something you can compare, or just copy.  You have to own it.  You have to have confidence in yourself.  Because those kids do, no matter your flaws.  And I hope it is enough.

 

This was the moment I met Hayden and becaome a Mum.

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9 Comments

  • Reply shannon @my2morrows 15th November 2014 at 18:05

    Beautiful post Ali and a big YES! You are doing enough. Sounds like your kids are thriving and happy. Thanks for the reminder to pick your battles too. I shall remember that next time miss 5 wants to wear her Elsa dress to the shops 🙂

    • Reply Ali 15th November 2014 at 22:14

      Thanks Shannon 🙂
      Yep – let her wear it! I’ve given in and let them wear their costumes to the shops now – it’s fun!!
      Enjoy the fun!

  • Reply Jess - alittlepartoftheworld 16th November 2014 at 17:53

    Absolutely beautiful post!! You are absolutely doing your best and at times I thought you were in my head reading my own thoughts!! I laughed out loud when reading about your little fart detectives. They sound utterly delightful and you should be very proud of your work as a Mother. Thanks for sharing your thought. Jx.

    • Reply Ali 16th November 2014 at 18:18

      Hi Jess! Thankyou so much for your lovely comment!
      My fart detectives crack me up – it was so funny!
      This motherhood thing is so tough some times – and it sounds like we all need to give ourselves a break! Thanks again for your lovely comments Jess

  • Reply Sian Barnard 18th November 2014 at 10:38

    Yep motherhood is a tough gig but we wouldn’t have it any other way!?!?? I love your honesty Ali and you are definitely not alone……

    • Reply Ali 18th November 2014 at 10:51

      Thanks Sian! Thanks for leaving such lovely comments, you rock!

  • Reply Jodie | Polka Dot Creative 20th November 2014 at 11:55

    Oh Ali. You are amazing. What a beautifully written post. You are so not alone. I often go to bed at night thinking – have I given them my all? Have I tried my best? How can I do better tomorrow? I own this. I love it. And I wouldn’t have it any other way however the self doubt and questioning can be brutal. Thank you for sharing your world so honestly with us all xxx

    • Reply Ali 20th November 2014 at 20:47

      Reading your comments always make me realise that we are our own harshest critics – but like you would not have it any other way!
      Thanks for always seeing the glass as half full; and for your lovely comments. You are awesome!

  • Reply xxx 21st January 2016 at 13:54

    Awesome post.

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