How are you?
How's your week been?
We're finishing off the school year and really starting the growing season here at Foxs Lane. Endings and beginnings. Everything and everyone is growing up and moving along.
But in amongst all of this progress, I've been looking backwards a lot too. I've been thinking about mothers of little, tiny kids. Mothers who are so consumed by their children's welfare that they often neglect their own. Probably the mother that I was when I started this blog way back then.
You know that woman standing in the doorway of the cafe you're sitting in. Her hair is in a messy pony tail trying to hide the fact that she hasn't washed it in days, and her clothes look like she's grabbed them off a pile next to her bed. In one hand she carries a bag filled with healthy snacks, books and other things to keep her children entertained and fed and cleaned. Whilst the other is filled with the hands of her little children, constantly pulling her forward and sideways and then back. She looks tired, and overloaded, and consumed with their details. Her children on the other hand are dressed immaculately. They are colourful, and clean, and cute. And they chatter and sing while they look for a place to sit. And she directs them, and organises them, and doesn't sit until they are all settled. This cafe visit is just the start of a day that will be filled with swimming lessons, and library visits, and time at the park on the swings.
Partly because I was her for so many years. Mostly I really loved being her, being the centre of their universe and hanging out all day with those funny little beings. Anything could be made into a fun activity: from the cooking, to the laundry, to the checking things off a shopping list. But I also remember sometimes feeling so relieved to be able to stand (hide) behind my kids, for them to take the spotlight and the lead, while my baby brain and I stood back and waited.
I was that mother for so many years that the man at the post office once told me that he didn't recognise me because I was alone, that he hadn't really seen me before, when he actually saw me most days of the week.
And partly thinking about that mum makes me sad because I am still her. Well not literally, but feelingly.
Although my youngest baby is nine and all three of my girls go to school full time and are in some ways extremely independent, I still feel like the toddler mother fussing along behind them, fixing the details and putting them first. I'm a stay-at-home mum and a work-from-home mum. That's what I do. And I think that that's been okay til now. But for some reason I need more now. I need something bigger. I need something that is mine.
I've asked a lot of people in my world about the toddler mother thing lately, and have been interested to find that nine seems to be the magic age when mothers feel like their selfless time is up. Mothers of nine-year-olds go back to work, and study, and add titles to their bios like writer and editor and designer.
I'm not sure what any of this means, but I do feel less alone in my need to escape my chrysalis and spread my wings.
I am not even close to the woman, (girl ?) I was before I had babies, and the woman who I've become since then has evolved over time, but I want more than that now. I want to be able to dig deep and ask myself what I love doing. Not what I love doing with my family, or for my family, but what feeds my soul. Mine. I want to strip back the feelings of obligation and habit and safety and see what's underneath. I want to make some changes and put myself out there and see what I get back.
And I want to box up my whole wardrobe of mum clothes: the easy-breast-feeding, the fit-a-pregnant-belly, the what-was-I-thinking, the loose-to-cover-all, and the plunging necklines, and I want to start again. (Ethical, sustainable, organic clothing brands recommendations please?)
That internal mean-girl voice is screaming at me - First world problems! Who cares? Close your computer and go and do something useful!
And I will. Because for now the voice that calls me the strongest is the voice of my garden. Plunging my hands deep into the soil, digging a hole to plant a seed, watching and watering and harvesting, that is my happy place. That is where I find my peace.
But there will be something more in my future. My mind is open to thoughts of study, to work in other fields, and to changing things up a bit around here and maybe branching out into something new.
I'm putting it out there universe, I wonder what you've got for me.