Motherhood is an adventure like no other. As ready as you think you are, nothing can actually prepare you for the reality of being responsible for the well being of the little folk you produce, of carrying their everything with you at all times every day (and often at night in the early years) both good and bad. It is impossible to ever prepare yourself for the side step you have to take, that your own well being is never quite top of the list again. I’m sure we all balance motherhood differently and that’s great – whatever suits you best – for me though, I have been feeling guilty (pretty much since they were born) for wanting a little head space and time to breathe…
Some time around 18 months ago I made something of a pact with myself to say ‘yes’ more often. You see I had a bit of a tendency to say ‘no, thank you’ when opportunities and invitations came my way for a million and one reasons. Then I reached a point of wondering why this had become a habit. Why am I always saying ‘no’? Fear of the unknown perhaps? Stepping out of my comfort zone? Feeling that my little people might need me more than I need the commissions or experiences on offer…? I have all the excuses in the book you know, I can think of a reason to say no in an instant. Saying yes takes a little longer.
Motherhood for me has involved a big knock to my confidence, a feeling somewhat like a loss of my identity, because for a very long time most of the new people I met knew me as someones mum before anything else. As an extension of the small person. Maybe I also forgot a little what I enjoy, what makes me tick – so busy was I entertaining my children’s needs or (if I’m completely honest) feeling slightly trapped by them. Don’t get me wrong, I am as proud as can be to own this parenting role, though it’s effect on my self confidence has been much bigger than I ever thought it would be. And I have hidden behind motherhood for a lot of years, like my worth depends on it.
I don’t doubt for a second that this has been exaggerated by working from home – having little contact with other people on a daily basis. I have been self employed for years, happily so actually, but have had much too much time to overthink myself and my motherhood role. Thinking to the point that the lines between them depending on me and me depending on them became a little blurry.
Motherhood changed my life immeasurably. There are always other peoples needs to consider, yes, and their needs go way beyond the daily household chores and meal provisions. To hold their self esteem, confidence, and self worth in my heart feels like a huge responsibility. To encourage, nurture and comfort is a full time job in itself and I will hold my hands up and say I don’t always get it right. Not by a long way. And then I teach them (I hope) humility, because we all need to learn through experience don’t we? I apologise to my children when I get it wrong. I hope with this that they are learning to be gracious and forgiving too. Finding the balance can feel overwhelming can’t it?
I guess what I realised along the way is that shutting myself off from the world is maybe not encouraging my children to be adventurous, independent and confident people. That saying yes to experiences, even if they don’t involve the children, is important for all of us.
So what has happened since I started saying yes? Well I’m pretty sure you can see a lot of it on my Instagram feed and here on my website. I have worked with amazing people, I now travel to London regularly (even though the thought was overwhelming 18 months ago, I’ve remembered how much I love it there) with some travel further afield now too. I have met so many lovely folk along the way none of whom know me first as someones mum.
I have been a mum for almost 14 years but I am expert in no more than my own family. Some of you will have children, some may not and all of us have vastly different experiences. The demands of motherhood are beyond words, if I can give you just one piece of parenting advice for the moment it would be don’t forget yourself. Children observe everything, including how you look after yourself and there is absolutely nothing wrong with making time to chase your own dreams at the same time as nurturing theirs, perhaps it will even teach them that you can pursue your dreams at any stage. Life is short. Live it. (Or even better pick it up with both hands, give it a shake and see what happens!)