“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” – Maya Angelou
I read a post recently on Instagram by Aimee Aroha, a birth mentor, (@ripsnorter) who wrote about being “deep in the MOTHER season of her life”. She wrote about surrendering to it and being grateful for the privilege allowing her to be fully in the space. She described mothering as “enough”, “worthy” and “healing”.
Her words immediately resonated with me.
I am also deep in the mothering season of my life. And it’s only recently, after reading many more words by other mothers embracing and reclaiming the honour that is mothering, that I’ve begun to accept that it is enough. That I am allowed to enjoy it, and not worry that anything is missing or that I am “not doing enough”. (This notion alone is almost laughable, I get to the end of each day and wonder how the hell I could possibly do any more, I think yes, I do “enough”.)
We live in a scarcity culture, a culture of lack, of “never enough”. It is no wonder many of us feel there is something missing in our lives. I have felt, on and off the last few years, that a big fat juicy career is missing from mine. I’ve come to realise there is a time and a place for everything, and that my time to begin a career, is coming.
I’ve read and re-read Aroha’s words and it’s as though they’ve helped give me permission to simply be as a mother.
To exist deep in the mothering season and to trust it.
To not question it.
To not worry about my next move.
To not torture myself to come up with a plan.
To not berate myself for not having more exciting answers when people ask “so what are you up to?”.
Mothering two children is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s everything they tell you, every colour of the rainbow, all in one day.
Overwhelming and underwhelming.
Chaotic then boring.
Beautiful but brutal.
Uplifting yet exhausting.
Crowded and lonely.
I don’t feel lonely much anymore, but I have fleeting moments some days where I feel a pang of loneliness. A brief aching for connection with another adult. This might be during lunch when I’m sat quietly with Leo, we’re eating our food together and I’m wondering what’s happening in “the working world”. I picture young professionals leaving a meeting then nipping out of the office to go grab a salad. For a moment I envy anyone not sat in their dining room in their pyjamas. (I’ll often change into pjs when I’m home, just because I can.)
We have two baby music classes a week which are great for meeting other Mums. We’ll meet before class some weeks and go for hot chocolate with our babies, it doesn’t sound like anything special but that alone is enough to make me feel like I belong to something. A small tribe of young women just muddling through with our children, making it up as we go along and laughing about the craziness of it all, sharing birth stories as we attend to our cubs. We connect on a sacred level – the level of the understanding mother who “gets it”.
They’re not for everyone but I genuinely enjoy both baby classes. 45 minutes where Leo is happy and I’m not doing the laundry or wiping up food from the floor, what’s not to love.
I try and see friends as much as possible but you can’t line up coffee dates seven days a week, so some days it is just Leo and I.
(Thankfully I have some wonderful friends who will come for a spontaneous breakfast after school drop off, or call me out of the blue just to say hello…Laughter with a friend is sufficient to pull me out of any bored or lonely lull).
Because it can be boring. There is nothing exciting about feeding a toddler his breakfast. But I like to think how lucky am I that I get to feed him his breakfast. It is a privilege. A messy privilege. Though it doesn’t always feel that way. Sometimes it just feels mundane, repetitive and a bit shit and I end up questioning whether I am doing the right thing staying home with my children. There are days when Leo’s not himself, he’ll be whiny and clingy, refusing to be put down anywhere. My arms will ache and I’ll be desperate for some breakfast or simply to go to the toilet, and I’ll wonder whether a childminder a day or two a week would break the bank.
“I’m getting a job!” I’ll declare to Joel after a particularly long day.
“I can’t do this anymore!”
He knows it’s not sincere but indulges me anyway, occasionally sending me links to low paid but logistically manageable roles on offer.
I go through phases of overthinking the old “I wish I could use my brain more during the day”. There is nothing to really counter this thought other than “I will use it more during the day, in the future.”
(I will probably have to use it so much I will wish I could use it less.)
The other is “I do use it during the day..”.
Well, I do what I can to stimulate it.
I read, write and paint whenever the opportunity arises.
I listen to podcasts and audiobooks in all the in between moments. In the car, in the kitchen, doing laundry, following Leo up the stairs.
I’ll take Leo into book shops or to the library, stealing even more moments to read.
I do an acting class at the weekend that I’ll read plays and learn monologues for.
I follow current events and catch up on the news every night. (I’ll often ask Joel to explain to me in human terms what on earth is going on with that politician or in that country. He seems to always be in the know and I enjoy picking his brain).
I may not be a part of the work force but I’m still a citizen of the world.
And I am still contributing.
There is immense value in the work I do.
My momentary boredom is met with unparalleled momentary joy. Leo is now 15 months old and a riot.
In Maia’s words “Squishing Leo’s chubby cheeks is the best thing in the world..”. The kisses, cuddles, expressions, words. Every little thing he says or does is a delight to us. We are besotted. We fall in love with him more and more each day. And it feels kind of nice to think I had something to do with that. Though immensely hard work, I adore my children.
So whilst I am deep in the season of mothering, it is easy to forget that it is just that, a season. And seasons change.
I will always mother, but not quite like this.
Leo will start nursery and Maia will walk herself to school.
They won’t need me as they do now.
I will finally get to “use my brain more during the day” and figure out what exactly that looks like.
When I consider the passing of time, and how this season will flow into the next without me even realising, I think how precious this time is, and how life will never be the same again. How Maia will never again walk up and down the landing carrying Leo along on his feet, willing him to walk, Leo giggling away. How at some point Maia will want to wash and dry her own hair, and won’t need me making sure she’s rinsed all the conditioner out. That each day that I nag her to brush her teeth again, is another day closer to me not having to do that anymore.
I realise this is not a season to be wished away, but a season to cherish, even with all the food on the floor. It is a season I will quietly mourn when over. When I go back to studying or working and Leo is in the care of another, I will both smile and cry, knowing I gave it my all, and that it was a time of healing and renewal.
I won’t cherish every moment, I loathe when well-meaning people say that to mothers, it denies the reality of motherhood.
But I will honour the season.
It is worthy, it is both ordinary and extraordinary and it is enough.
“Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws.”
― Barbara Kingsolver