Perhaps like most mothers who stand on one leg and perform a multitude of tasks like a thrashingly efficient octopus, I’m often hit with the crashing reality that I am indeed a mum. The daily multi-tasking should frequently remind me, but it doesn’t. Much of the time I still feel like I’m 12 years old – how on earth can I raise two kids when I’m still one myself?
I’ll be scrubbing the floor and I’ll notice a long lost ballet slipper, caught in a cobweb nest under the couch. I’ll be making the beds and see the cowboy quilt beneath my smoothing hands, as if for the first time. I’ll be raking the garden and discover a long lost football in the bushes. I’ll open the fridge and a jumble of kid-friendly foods will block every access to my large bottle of emergency tonic (think: gin).
Where did these childish items come from and how did they get into my house? Well, I made them happen. With the help of Husband and 12 years of juggling (and octo-thrashing).
Motherhood is all-encompassing. It is for me, anyway. When Husband and I decided to have children, I became a stay-at-home mum – the stereotypical caregiver, counsellor, educator, cook, maid, coach, nurse, playdough sculptor, disciplinarian, mediator, chauffeur, arts and crafts director, play pal and sometime wife. And in the midst of all those roles, like many mothers in any community in the world, I lost sight of one very important one – the role of a woman. The role of Me.
I’m not lamenting. I chose this path and I look back with heart-swelling pride at the rollercoaster ride of it all, but it can be tough sometimes – waiting to reconnect with the long forgotten parts of who we once were. Or more importantly, of who we will be in the vibrant and promising future. Those notions of You. Of who you can be. You. Not mum, mummy or mama. Not wife, friend, sister, grandmother or auntie. You. Octopus Woman.
Of course, that Woman part of us mothers is still there, hidden deep behind the kiddie foods in the front of the fridge. We are that snatch of fresh young spinach leaves, those piquant olives, that Perrier fizz, that hunk of rounded, creamy Brie, that tall bottle of vibrant V8 juice… The kids can’t and won’t touch all that, neither the Husband. That is all you, my fellow mother. Deeply stashed behind the Gogurts and beer and needs of Everyone Else.
Of course, as is the way of life, time shifts mountains. Slowly, ever so slowly, as disposable nappies make way for designer jeans, as counting books make way for textbooks, as Dora makes way for Hannah… you’ll catch little glimpses of yourself beginning to poke through the exhausted, be-trackie-dacked carcass that is early motherhood. You’ll actually be able to wash your hair again. You’ll rediscover china plates. You’ll dive inside a book that involves not a single scrap of teddy, Tonka truck or nightly-dinner-recipe. And gradually, mincingly… you will need to stoop less. Like the gradual evolution of our ape ancestors, you’ll once again progress from socks to slippers to runners to heels – standing evermore upright, until you can finally reach the big girl mirror, and take a look at yourself again.
Then you might start mothering You.
I don’t know about you, but I threw myself into the slipper-wearing years of early motherhood, and there are no regrets – but I must admit, it’s nice, oh so nice to be sliding my feet into heels once again. To be reconnecting with who I once was and to who I’m becoming, whilst simultaneously fielding goals with Riley and spinning hoops with Ella. It’s a stunning balancing act, but if anyone can do it, a woman can.
Whilst we don’t in the least bit need to compromise our motherhood for our womanhood, it is a delicate and purposeful balancing act to attain a working level of both, at any stage of your children’s development. Achieving that little bit of The Self is something we so frequently fail to attain – yet how vital it is to our spirit, to our toenails and hair, to who we are as people – and, ironically, to our very motherhood.
It’s a blessed mother who can run a family and still manage to connect with the woman inside. In any way you can, I urge you to make that happen, Octopus Woman.
How do you mother yourself? Leave a Comment below