I’m going to expand on last week’s topic of perspective. There’s never been a more apparent time to look inward and really examine your day-to-day, the monotony, the mental load of parenthood and the ‘insta vs reality’ skew that is so prevalent for us in 2021.
From a mum’s perspective – it’s almost as if we are on autopilot.
The inane, repetitive and sometimes mind-numbing aspects of keeping children alive and well, fed and educated in the world we now live in. The never ending loads of washing. The outgrowing of clothing. The school fees and excursions. Uniforms. Daycare. Grocery shopping to feed the bottomless pits of cuteness that they are. After-school activities. Birthday parties. All whilst remembering to drink water, maintain our own health, keep up with our devoted skin-care routines and our very identity.
It’s chaos: day in, day out (seemingly, until the end of time).
I am constantly torn between feeling guilty that I’m not ‘living in the moment, mindfully washing the dishes, feeling the texture of the soap as it washes over the plate’ (legit, I wanna be the mum who finds housework relaxing) – and feeling guilty that I’ve foregone the dishes for a couple of hours to play the with the kids. It’s such a fine line to decipher: doing enough to satisfy your own urges of being house proud and feeling put-together, whilst still being ‘on’ and ‘available’ as a mum. I am constantly yo-yo’ing between the two.
And it makes me feel like shit.
If the house is clean, the fridge is stocked, all the appointments are sorted, I have matching socks (until the kids come home and literally fuck shit up, Cue inner and outer rage and feelings of resentment followed by instant guilt;) have I set unrealistic expectations on my three kids? (and Phil – let’s be real).
The alternative is a constant state of disarray that leaves me feeling anxious and overwhelmed, which then also has a negative effect on my family. What do I sacrifice? At what cost does one outweigh the other?
But I have realised something. Something very important, like a strike of lighting.
KIDS ARE (some what) RESILIENT.
Let’s flip the lens.
When my mind drifts back to my childhood, to those days mum would throw her hands up and say ‘how about dip-dip eggs for dinner with toast soldiers?’ or ‘crackers, cheese and ham?’ and we would rejoice at the spontaneity and change-up from the usual meat and two veg. We didn’t NOTICE the broken face of our mum, staring blindly into the empty fridge or pantry, tears brimming her eyes after reaching her exasperation point in the minutiae of daily life as a single mum (this is me projecting from my own experience of tears in the kitchen because I genuinely don’t remember ever seeing her cry) .
I remember the times mum let us build pillow forts. Or play dress-ups in her clothes (that she probably just lovingly folded.) The times we lived in shabby-chic homes (aka shit-holes) but from our innocent perspective – that didn’t even register. We found beauty in the weird patterns on the walls. We made up stories about the etchings in the driveway from the people who lived before. We had sunshine, we had siblings, we had food. We had a mum who loved us. We were KIDS and we didn’t CARE about our cozy (cluttered) home. All we wanted was a happy mum, food in our bellies and some lip smackers.
Because, guess what?
Kids like chaos too. My kids don’t care about style, or meditation, or anything that Instagram is selling to them. They just want to be kids.
My answer? I’m not sure I have a one-size-fits-all solution for all families and households – but I do know this.
Kids want happy parents. A happy home. Happy wife, happy life. In amongst all this chaotic existence (that won’t end anytime soon), it’s so super important to find pockets of sanity, sanctity, serenity, snacks. In the cupboard, in the laundry, on a massage table, in the backyard on a picnic rug with a wine (or coke if you’re me). Don’t sacrifice yourself like a martyr to be insta-perfect leaving you empty inside, with a twitching eye. Schedule in moments of stillness. Run away (to the backyard) or if the kids are safe outside, you go inside and find your moment. You go Glen Coco. Because these small pockets of ‘us’ have such a huge flow-on effect in our mood, our happiness and then also, in our children.
Love Jess x