I’ve been in the process of writing this blog for a few days. I actually wrote a massive diatribe and then deleted it. Then wrote again, and deleted it.
It all started with reading a Facebook update by a girl I know online but have never met. She has a nine-month old child. She also owns her own business. I know very little else except for all the ‘health and love’ type updates she posts. She’s very positive and upbeat. But this time she was renouncing the role of ‘domestic goddess’, refusing to cook for a week, except food for her babe and in the process claiming back time for her – for a little ‘self-love’.
It really rattled me. Are the two mutually exclusive? If I am the cook and cleaner for my tribe does that mean I don’t love myself? Does domesticity hold so little value? Do I value it? Am I embarrassed of my level of domesticity?
So what did I do?
I jumped on to my trusty blog and wrote a career summary and justification for how I ended up at home taking care of almost three kids. I felt I needed to tell you – tell EVERYONE – of my previous education and work successes because isn’t that what’s of most value?
And this isn’t REALLY me….or is it?
The problem, as I see it, is that the movement into motherhood and ‘domesticity’ is not particularly highly valued in today’s society, but more importantly it’s not valued by those people DOING it. That is the problem. And if I have picked up anything in my learnings on health and wellness it’s that poisonous thoughts are potentially more damaging than a bad diet. It’s really negative to hold so little self-worth but it happens….insidiously.
I am constantly surprised that I will have pumped out three kids before my first-born turns four. I’m even more surprised that I have a website with the words ‘in the kitchen’ following my name. Seriously – WTF!? How did this happen??
But just as I sit here in a cafe listening to two women next to me bitch about their kids soccer coach and planning a coup and SWEARING that I am not going to be like that in a few years, I actually cannot be sure.
And so instead of a justification of my current level of domestication, I just wish I could tell that Facebook friend that this whole journey into motherhood and nurturing is a constant struggle. Of course you’re renouncing being a domestic goddess – the image of Nigella is not a real one (we know that now!). Of course you’re fed up and want to get back to YOU. Of course these little protests might make you feel better for a while, but the scary truth is you are here now, that baby is not going anywhere and neither is your role.
You just have to work out the best way to do this for all of you.
So here’s a heads up: it’s going to be a constant struggle for sanity, you’ll struggle to retain feelings of self-worth, it’s a struggle for peace and quiet, it’s a big struggle for balance. It’s always a struggle to keep guilt at bay and it’s a struggle to find time for the things we love, as individuals, not mamas. Or at least, it has been for me.
In my opinion, never has the role of mother been more confused, more fraught with contradictions. Even although having kids is more than a full-time job I have also not had more than 6 months since Elliott was born (three and a half years ago) of not working or studying. Is this a pressure I put on myself willingly or am I just desperate to hold on to that piece of me that is not a mum? That is capable of more than wiping arses and breaking up fights?
We have a choice in the way we parent these days. Blokes are so much more involved than they ever have been, many taking up the mantle of full-time carer which is liberating and exciting and shared parenting is something my husband and I are striving for in the future.
But us women have the babes. That can’t change. It’s my body that has been of service to my children for the past few years and that fact has bound me to my home in a totally unexpected way. (I really should have seen it coming…..!)
I’m domesticated. And that’s why the Facebook post rattled me. It’s a truth that challenges my feeling of self-worth – my VALUE. But here’s the thing that my 25 year old self – or even 30 year old self – could never have imagined. I actually DO see value in it. There is a value dear FB friend in finding a mothering groove that works for you and then giving it your all. Most mums I know end up finding it – but it doesn’t come straight away and you may end up choosing an option that might never have crossed your mind pre-children. Go with it. Find value in this new life of yours. It won’t stay the same forever because these cheeky buggars keep changing and needing us in new and different ways that stretch us and help us grow. Isn’t that awesome? She won’t be nine months and on your boob forever. It all changes so quickly and we can learn so much along the way.
It is a process, learning how to be a mother. It’s really only just begun for me. I have so many years ahead with challenges that I cannot even fathom (hello soccer mum dramas). But I haven’t given up on me either. I have years of personal growth and development that will happen as I continue to find my voice and passion and worth beyond the boundaries of these walls. I am proud that I am becoming a steward of healthy food for my family and attempting to create a loving, nurturing environment for my kids to grow up in – for me to LIVE IN (ME! – I’m here too!). I look forward to releasing work into the world that will help people do the same. I’m making plans for that now.
You’ll find your feet Facebook friend, and to all the other mums out there who are confused/frustrated/hamstrung/stuck/guilt-ridden/trapped by their role as a ‘domestic goddess’ then know it’s hard and is a process and you do have a choice about how much or little you do. You’ll make decisions that feel really right by you in time. We grow and learn. Whenever I put a meal together for my family or send my kids off with a lunchbox of healthy goodness I should give myself a little high five. And so should you. It’s not all that I am, but it’s my contribution to health and wellness and I’m finding ways to do it efficiently so that I am not chained to my kitchen!
Remember that you can have the healthiest diet in the world, but if your thoughts are toxic then so is your body. She is on the right track with that self-love stuff, it’s something totally new that I am practicing and it feels good. I’m choosing to be kind to the domestic, tired and very under-pampered me.
It’s all going to be OK (and if it’s not then at least there’s school in a few years – ha!) x