I’ve started to prioritise myself a bit more.
It started when I realised that I was carrying so much with work and motherhood, leaving no space for myself.
My mental health was suffering from not giving myself any room to breathe, to rest, to have joy in things that are my own.
And so I started to take the space I needed.
Thursday evenings are my own to rest, reflect, explore or connect with others and each month I take a longer period of time for myself. Whether that’s a night away or a longer time alone.
But I feel judgement – mostly self-judgement – about my motherhood not fitting into the archetypical experience of what is ‘should’ be.
And on some days, I feel brave and strong when I respond to the ‘don’t you miss him when you’re away from him’, the ‘don’t you feel guilty’ or the ‘I bet you’ll miss him when you’re on holiday’ with the truth.
That I don’t miss him all the time, I don’t feel guilty for taking time for myself and that sometimes I could do with more time alone.
And some other days I find it hard to step into the greater truth.
The truth motherhood hasn’t made me. It’s challenged me, pushed me, forged a new strength in me but it hasn’t been the bright star that has given me a purpose missing in my life before. I was purposeful enough already.
The truth that I wasn’t made to be a mum, I’ve stepped into motherhood. And if anything I feel broken apart due to the stretching that comes with my universe having to encompass another person’s needs.
The truth that I find the routine of motherhood boring at times. The rhythms of my son wanting to spend hours playing with his cars, the 5:50am wake-ups and the splitting up conversations and connections as I rush over to him to keep him safe from a height, a surface or whatever trouble is just around the corner for him.
Don’t misunderstand me, my love for Jenson is as fierce as a lioness and I’m bowled over by the joy that he brings. Yet motherhood is not enough for me in itself.
I used to get mad at myself for not having it in me to fit into this perfect motherhood box.
And I used to feel a sense of failure about this all.
But now, instead of telling myself about all the ways that I’ve failed, I feel more angry with the world and our structures which set me up for failure.
The world makes it seem possible for us to have it all – work hard, parent hard – without the social structures around us to catch the bits that are impossible to do.
The world fails me.
The social constructs with attachment parenting talks about the vital importance of the mother to instil a wellbeing in the child. But where’s Gregg’s role in this model to comfort, to feed, to be our son’s centre of gravity until he finds his own?
Our models of understanding fail me.
Our very ways of being with each other as human beings which can polarise different views of motherhood – you only have to spend a moment on Facebook to witness this behaviour. Those who say ‘it’s not natural for children to be breastfed for so long’ and those who say ‘but have you really tried?’ when a mother decides to stop breastfeeding because it’s not working for her or her child.
Our inability to listen deeply to understand the other fails me.
Our expectation that social structures – from the patriarchal vision of ‘what women should be’ down to schooling which teaches the importance of external validation -passing exams – over following what lights you up.
Our society fails me.
And where does it leave me?
Set up to feel like a failure for not being able to be everything to everyone.
The story of my life, which would have, in years gone by, led me to just try harder feeling like the impossible was due to my ineptitude and would be solved if I only worked at it a bit more.
But instead I’m starting to walk a different way.
A way which challenges the ‘don’t you feel guilty’ by asking whether that’s a question that would be asked to a man…and if not, why should I be held to account for it?
A way where I declare, starting with this blog, that motherhood is an individual journey and no two are the same. I’m no less a ‘good’ mum because I want to work and find parts of the experience boring than a mum who wants to be the sole carer and is in rapture at everything their child does.
A way where I take more time for myself and don’t have to attribute it to how good it is for my son to see a strong woman taking time for herself. I do it because I want the time alone, I need the time alone. And that’s a good enough reason to take it.
I’m not going to apologise for my experience anymore.
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