Initially I was going to title this “On Surviving Motherhood” but I don’t want to survive motherhood. It’s not something that you painstakingly endure, or rather it shouldn’t be. No. I want to thrive in this mysterious, all-consuming, endless journey of motherhood. After talking to friends online and offline about thriving in motherhood, I’ve tried to articulate a few things that have helped me. You may, or may not, gleam something that interests or helps you continue to be that thriving mother that I’m sure you already are.
Just say no. No explanation needed. No to extra work. No to social engagements you really don’t want to go to. Say no thank you and leave it at that. It is extremely liberating.
Baby needs friends. I’m not sure he or she does, well not really at 13 months. And certainly not every. single.day. From the beginning I tried to ensure there was enough balance in our schedule – time with other children for Rafa, home time, mumma and Rafa time, daddy and Rafa time. But as groups grow (in terms of members) naturally activities and engagement increase. I’m scaling back. Not because I don’t like our friends (on the contrary, I love our friends) but I also miss the alone time with Rafa. So, the lesson here is just to keep an eye on how much friend time and group time you end you having. There’s a sweet spot. Too little or too much and you’ll go crazy!
Mumma needs friends. Like baby. Not every. single.day. But I really miss my friends. And I miss spending time with them without children. I also miss conversations about things other than children. Judge if you like – but I talk about and think about my child and how to be a better mother every moment of every day. I need a moment, once a week even, just to talk about work, social issues, what book everyone is reading. A friend mentioned enjoying a book in the sun a month ago – I still haven’t had a moment to ask her what book it was. I’m also aware that you can’t get everyone together and say “okay no talk about children.” We’re making a little more effort to spend time with our friends who don’t have children. Even if we have Rafa with us, it’s natural to talk about him for a while, but then we talk about what everyone else is doing and what we’re doing apart from parenting (and we are doing a lot else, like I’m sure you are too). I feel so much better after having meaningful conversations about life. I’ve also shared this post on keeping good company.
Don’t forget the other parents/ Don’t forget dads. Involving Patrick in everything has made parenting so much easier. It is almost instinctive to want to do everything for Rafa. Or thinking, I do it better, so I may as well do it myself. Or, I can deal with Rafa quicker, so I should do it. Luckily Patrick has been quite adamant that even if things take longer or don’t get done the way I would do it, he is still going to do them. It has made my life as a mother so enjoyable. I can leave during the middle of the day to go shopping or to a cafe. I can go to dinners and drinks. Or just to a yoga class without worrying about Rafa. He is with his father after all.
Don’t listen to anyone else. Oh the irony. Sharing my opinion is in no way prescriptive. I share because often I’ve looked for information and suggestions and been unable to find it. Often just to get an insight and a glimpse of how everyone else is managing these uncharted waters. Ultimately, you listen to yourself. Your moods, your body, your child and of course the impact your decisions are having on your family dynamics.
These are just a few things that I’ve realised over time that have made me calmer and happier amidst the chaos of my everyday reality.