Four months ago, I began a journey of discovering how to live my working mummy life with more joy and less guilt. I was embarking on a new phase, full-time work/study, and wanted to make it a success. I wrote about starting my journey, and invited others to come along. What a wonderful rabbit hole I descended into! Like Alice in Wonderland, I started discovering all kinds of amazing things on my journey, and am a changed woman (and continue to change). I stumbled across a truth – to change the world, you must first change yourself, or nothing will really change. I started examining external circumstances and how I could change them, and ended up in quite a different place. I’ve been reflecting on all of this and here is what I’ve found along the way.
First I explored the domestic division of labour. I discovered that a more equal division of labour did not automatically make working mothers happier. I thought about time, and how I should value its importance just as I valued nutrition (cutting out “junk” time). I started to think about two types of change: the practical things I could change about the working week, and the inner work so that my happiness or contentment was not dependent on external circumstances. Sort of change what you can change, including yourself, so that you don’t end up always back in the same place, complaining about new things. I started to explore new ways of thinking about myself and my world. Like seeing work and family as an integrated whole rather than competing interests. Connecting with the meaning of “work as love made visible” and the bigger picture. Those of you very dear to me, and you know who you are!, read my posts and commented and came along on my journey.
Then I wrote a simple post on working mothers and stay-at-home mothers and it absolutely exploded all over the world. There was a collective weeping across the globe as mothers finally felt understood, on a very deep level. This episode will go down in my memory as one of the most amazing and significant events of my life. Hundreds of thousands of mothers wrote to me to say thank you. There were, of course, a small handful of very unhappy people, but I learned to accept the negative with the positive and move on. Many of you continue to discover my blog via the “letters” – welcome, and I hope you enjoy the rest of the journey with me! And of course, my very dear family and friends continued to read and connect with me, and I love you all so very much from the bottom of my heart
I’ve continued to discover some very profound, startlingly simple truths, the kind of ageless, timeless principles of wisdom that have always been around but which I, for some reason, am only beginning to tap into. I discovered how vital it is to be grateful for every single day and this is something I feel is one of the absolute crucial parts of being a successful, happy and engaged parent. I put gratitude into practice during the difficult weeks of early wakings, sicknesses, and general exhaustion. I practised an abundant mindset to free myself of feelings of inadequacy (this is something I still have to work at every single day). I learned that loving and forgiving myself was another key to being a happy working parent, as was creating a mindset of receiving as well as giving. What is amazing to me is that I stumbled across these by reflection, and later would hear prominent speakers – psychologists, scientists, Buddhist meditation teachers etc – talk about these exact same things as though they were my very own words. I knew then that these are enduring principles, not pop psychology trends – and they will stick with me as long as I keep practising them.
Lately I have been practising mindfulness. I consider mindfulness and gratefulness to be two of the most important keys to being a happy and peaceful parent. So many of us feel the passage of time with such sadness – imagine if we could just enjoy today instead of worrying, fretting and feeling grumpy! But I feel it is more than this as well – I write often about mummy guilt, and as part of this I have unsubscribed to some parenting newsletters that were just making me feel like an awful mummy for not constantly creating beautiful art projects with my children while baking them slices and biscuits and taking them to ballet and music classes. Mummy guilt is something I will continue to explore, as I know it is rife, and interferes with otherwise happy parent-child relationships.
I am continuing to look for ways to improve my experience of being a working mother, or even a mother, or just a better person. There are so many more truths out there that I am eager to discover. I hope this will create a mindful life, and one with indeed more joy and less guilt. I know that I am already so much happier (though sometimes I forget this). I no longer dread the “rush hour” and instead have embraced its madness. Mornings are boisterous and happy rather than tense. But there is so much farther to go. I hope you’ll stay with me – I have enjoyed having so many more companions on my journey. Thanks for reading