Thursday, 17 September 2015

A Better Mama

I'm having a rough week. Nothing really bad has happened. I'm just really I-could-fall-asleep-at-my-desk burnt out! I get like this sometimes, and it usually results in my being on a general downer. So, a lot of the time, I find myself having to tell myself not to be down, despite how I am feeling.

So you imagine my surprise when last night, in the midst of this exhaustion, not a single thing was getting me down...

It was 18h30, there was no sign of dinner (we had forgotten to take something out of the freezer) or of Andel (he was at a late training workshop). Zac was doing a puzzle on the floor, singing on the top of his voice (as he does when he does puzzles), stopping only to ask me to see what a good job he was doing. Sam was peacefully feeding, gazing at me with those bright eyes. I don't know if it's that there's less than a week left of term, or that after a year I finally managed to get my hair washed and trimmed (by a professional), but once I managed to bring the boys and all our bags into the house, I sat on the couch, and I was content.

The truth is: we've got it good. I'm not going to cite all the statistics about the world's wealth distribution, because I don't believe it's about that at all. While we are better off financially than most in our country, what made me feel full was the fact that I was spending time, doing absolutely nothing, with my kids.

I once heard someone say that while her first child had made her a mother, her second child had made her a better mother. I remember thinking: doesn't she have this backwards? Aren't subsequent children always complaining about all the things their parents did with their older siblings that they didn't do with them? But I didn't have more than one child then. Now I'm beginning to think she might have been onto something.

When Zac was born I think I may actually have had a not-so-mild case of PND. His birth, plus my inadequacy, and the all day, every day loneliness made me pretty miserable. So leading up to Sam's birth, I was tormented by how I was going to handle, care for, and love another child. And the first six weeks were hard. Really hard. If you can imagine being dragged a mile under a bus that has just run you over - that's pretty much how it felt for me. But then we started to get into a groove (and not just because Sam is a placid baby). I decided to do some things that I thought would make life a little more comfortable and enjoyable, for all of us:

I relax more - because then my family can relax more.

I go out and do stuff (hell, I even spend money sometimes) - because that's what memories are made of.

I let the kids get dirty - because they're boys, and even exhaust dirt comes out with soap and water.

I let the house get dirty too (and sometimes stay dirty more longer than is generally acceptable) - because it's lived in, for heaven's sake, and we'll get around to cleaning eventually.

I stress less - because it's bad for my health and affects my milk supply. And I cry more - because it's ok to not have it together, to make a mistake, to be emotional, and to treasure the moments that slip by too fast.

I work less (seriously, the career change to a simple, less stimulating option was deliberate) - because I don't want to bring work home into sacred family space and time.

I hug and kiss Andel more, in front of the kids - because I want the kids to know what love and happiness looks like.

I really watch and listen to what my family does and says - because they are watching and learning from me.

I let Zac have treats and fall asleep with unbrushed teeth and an iPad in his hands (sometimes) - because it can't just be about rules without reward all the time.

I let Sam be carried - because one day too soon he'll be too big and too heavy to be carried anymore.

I laugh more - because I'm prettier that way.

And I cut myself some slack - because I'm not perfect; I'm getting better.

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