Musings on (Working) Motherhood: What if you had a big enough Why?
Last week I was back at work and study for half of the week. The insights I’ve gained over the past few weeks have helped me through the week immensely. Work and family and housework no longer feel like a juggle. I am learning to move calmly and effortlessly (well, not always effortlessly…occasionally there are small children attached to my legs) from one arena of my life to another, with the overall focus being “family”. Whenever I have a moment of conflict, where a decision has to be made, I consider the overall goal, the big picture – being of service to my family (which includes ME) and to others. Housework is no longer a chore, but something I do automatically, without thinking, without resentment, and I’ve been taking note of how much my darling husband does as well – aren’t our men fantastic? Can you imagine our fathers helping out as much as our partners currently do?
I’m reading a new book called the “Success Principles” by Jack Canfield, and thinking a lot about my goals, my mission and my life’s work. In a nutshell, my mission is to teach and inspire others to lead happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. The inspire bit means I need to be an example. I have just this morning written down a list of goals – including to publish 10 papers before the end of 2015, and to self-publish a book or have a book contract by the end of 2016. For the first time in my life my goals stem not from personal ambition, a wish to stroke my ego or gain personal fame and fortune, but from my mission statement – the real “why”. My mission statement has quickly become the rudder, the oars, that steer my little boat (me) through the waters of life. No matter what the currents are doing, or the waves, or the wind, I’m able to head in the right direction, and I’m avoiding being carried away by currents made by others. I’m living my own life, thank you very much, not the life that the media or the slick advertisements by corporations are telling me to live.
I’ve also been doing a lot of forward planning, thinking beyond my PhD and the possibilities for a post-doctoral position. The road ahead, if I wish to achieve what I want, is long and hard, but today I had a Eureka moment while watching Owl play. The hardest job is not really building a career. A career is something anyone could build. Really, all you need is hard work, determination, persistence, organisational skills, all of that… You need to plug away, be passionate about what you do and strive for excellence, but anyone could do that. Raising a happy family, now that is the hardest job. I am fortunate in that my “why’s” (for my career and my family) co-incide. Teaching and inspiring others, especially my children, to lead happy, healthy and fulfilled lives. I realise I had to re-examine why I had children in the first place. For women there is that inexplicable biological longing, the drive to have and nurture a baby, to buy lots of tiny onesies and ooh and ahh over blankets, booties and prams. But beyond the baby and toddler years, what then? What of children who go to school, grow up, fall in love, have their hearts broken, become of legal age to drink and drive (oh dear Lord hopefully not at the same time… not on my watch!!) and consider careers of their own? All I can do is give them the skills, the tools to live life to the fullest. And they do this by learning from me.
So, part 3 of the Working Mummy Mindset. Discover what your why is and let this be the guide throughout the busy week – not your ego, not the whims of others, not fatigue, not old and unproductive habits.
It hasn’t all been about mindset this week though – we added a new member to our family! Roomba is our little robot vacuum and while I must say Roomba appears to career around the room in a somewhat demented and slightly ineffective fashion, the floors are definitely less crunchy and it’s nice to set Roomba to work and enjoy a few extra minutes a day to spend with the kidlets, or have a glass of wine…
Today is my first week of being a full-time working and studying mother. I’m ready for whatever the week brings. I hope you all spend a few minutes this morning reflecting on your “whys”. Have a wonderful week :)
1 thought on “Musings on (Working) Motherhood: What if you had a big enough Why?”
Working mothers or, mothers who remain at home to care for their children all have one thing in common, they carried a child, have given birth and love that child.
Mothering and parenting is difficult whoever you are and whatever you do. No two babies are the same, some sleep, some don’t, some feed and thrive, and some don’t. Some of us have hard working, supportive and responsible partners, some don’t. We each come to our parenting roles with our own unique life experience.
Some mothers have loving parents and close family who are supportive and involved (because they want to be) some don’t, some dads are great, some are ambivalent, some are just trying to do their best despite not being nurtured themselves as children, perhaps having had an abusive or absent parent, the same traumatic childhood experiences may apply to women too.
Some families can afford to pay for help, child minding, babysitters, some can’t.
There are often strong feelings about working and non-working mothers, as demonstrated by the response to this article but I feel that the subject of ‘choice’ and whether or not women have a choice to work or not, underpins the sense of empowerment or autonomy, that we want to have -and why wouldn’t it? Many women just don’t have a choice.
I am a mother of three girls, aged twenty-one, eighteen and seventeen. I have a supportive partner who works very long arduous hours, we have never had any close immediate family to offer help and support, to visit and share a cuppa or take the children out, babysit or celebrate – or just to be there at short notice in the event of an emergency – although I do have some wonderful friends and between us – the load and the triumphs and funny times can be shared.
I chose to relinquish my career when my first child was three, to remain at home and care for my children and indeed to support my partner (and be the engine or lynchpin) so that he could invest the time and energy to flourish in his business. This decision was right for our family but the reality of being a mother at home without any close family of my own (my parents and brother died when I was in my early twenties & my husbands family live overseas) was at times overwhelming, exhausting and often quite lonely and I missed the financial independence, social engagement and opportunities that were such an important, integral aspect of my adult working life. As soon as all of our three girls were settled at school, I resumed to study and re skilled which helped me to return to part- timework.
Now, with two girls at Uni and the youngest almost through school high school, I am able to change direction again and, at the moment I am enjoying a renewed sense of optimism as I undertake a completely different area of study, it is challenging but great fun.
I had a choice, many women don’t.
The letters to the stay at home mum and the working mum – are written with generosity of spirit, empathy, admiration and without judgment and, if we look into the words of each, we will locate parts of ourselves – the woman yearning for more time, sleep, support, kindness, kudos, financial independence, a more expansive and perhaps stimulating life, envy for things that we perceive others have and we don’t and, the ability to have a choice.
Mothering, babies, young children or young adults – is a rich, rewarding, – all consuming and stressful, joyful, anxiety provoking and painful experience. We do it and we do our best, because we want to, because we made a choice to become mothers, because we love and care for our children (and often hate them too – all in a moment! – I know that I certainly vacillate between the two extremes and so do my kids) and we want to provide whatever we can to help to shape – happy, healthy, curious, independent, self aware, empathic human beings.
I say, a good enough mum is fine, whether she works or not – we are all just trying to do our best, raise good kids who are opinionated, respectful and kind. As women and mothers, we support one-another and cultivate a life outside of that of our children and mothering.