I want to tell you a story about my Mum.
**trigger warning: parental death**
She was the most amazing woman. We were the house that everyone would gather in. Our tiny house, smaller than the not very big house I live in now. It would be full of people coming for dinner, staying for a few weeks if they were in need. And trust me they weren’t coming for her cooking. I have strong memories of gagging on her chewy beef casseroles, or eating Findus crispy pancakes slightly burnt. They really came for the welcoming nature she created in our house, for her love of a good gossip and the way she encouraged everyone to make themselves at home.
“Would you like a drink? The fridge is here, help yourself.’
My friends loved to ask her the sex questions they couldn’t ask their own mums, “Alison, can you really get thrush in your mouth?’. I guess this is not strictly a sex question but I’m pretty sure my friend Vicky thought it was when she asked it.
I loved to spend time with my mum as a teenager. I’d often forgo a sleepover in favour of hanging out with her in front of the TV. Having deep conversations, during which she would tell me that I was too intelligent for her, that her lack of education meant she couldn’t keep up with me. She may not have been as educated as me, but I have no doubt she was absolutely as intelligent.
What did my mum think of herself? Did she see the wonder everyone else did? Did she find a job or a life that lit her up?
The Art of Allowing
At some point we were sold the lie that we can't decide how we feel. That we have to wait for the motivation to strike. That "motherhood is ALL about sacrifice", so we should lower our standards of who we can be and what we can achieve. Because if we aren't immersed in sacrifice how can we be really be meeting everyone's needs
But...What about us?
The idea, of the mum who puts everyone above her own needs, scurrying around to ensure all that she has to do is done, never leaving anyone wanting in any way. That really destructive thought process has seeped into our subconscious and become all that we are about, the only thing we seek to achieve. As if sacrifice is all that matters.
Yes I have chosen to sacrifice parts of myself since I became a mother. I choose to parent in a way that feels good to me, it feels instinctive and relatively guilt free so I go with that. But the focus for me is on the choices I've made, the things I've gained from those choices, not the things I've left behind. The choice to go to my child when he cries, to stay in night after night because it's me who can settle him. Are these sacrifices? or choices?
The stories we tell...
it should be easy right? Allowing what is good, what we love, what comes with ease. How can it be hard to follow our plans and ideas to become what we want to become, to create what we want to create? But sometimes what we want is intimidating, who we want to be seems too much. We can’t be the ones to do it. We are not that person…yet.
We are not ready…yet. We already have no time, no space. We never manage to put the washing away. The woman we want to be, the woman who has the life we really want, she always puts the washing away. She is somehow other to us. She wouldn’t eat a covert chocolate bar behind the door of the kitchen cupboard, she wouldn’t feed her kids cereal for dinner, she sends cards on time for birthdays, she actually remembers the birthdays.
Do you see how we are minimising ourselves so massively in this. Our society and the media have utterly belittled what it means to be a woman. We are ‘successful’ if we put away the washing??? Seriously!!! I don’t know about you but I’m pretty sure I’m capable of a lot fucking more than putting the washing away or whatever other small job I may not have achieved that day.
I’ve spent the afternoon trying but failing to be effective. I’ve been trying to write a blog post, I’ve flitted from subject to subject trying to find inspiration and each time I’ve come up dry. I’ve written and deleted about 5 different paragraphs. Topics from body confidence, mum guilt, and expectations of ourselves have all come and gone from my brain to my fingers only to be erased. I’ve been for a walk to try and find inspiration, I've spoken a blog into my phone only to listen back to it on my return and decided it wasn't right. But each time I’ve not found it. I’ve been left still looking.
The result? In my frustration I started to tell myself a story. That I had not been effective today. That I hadn’t got anything done in my child free time. The panic started to rise. I’m busy tomorrow and the next day, when will I be child free again to write a post? It could be days. What a waste of those oh so holy of things, a day to myself.