No one tells you how chaotic the life of a mother is. How your life revolves around the needs of the little people around you. This is manifested most intensely with a little baby, where its every need is your responsibility and becomes your life. When they’re older it becomes about their school schedules, their therapies, their extra murals. Of course that’s just the practical, logistical side of mothering. Emotionally, socially we’re also involved. Who are their friends? What do they enjoy? What do they feel about themselves? How do I relate to them? Of course we can overthink all of this and/or put too much pressure on ourselves, as I do. Throw in any personal desire to work, write or go to yoga, or even have a quiet cup of tea (should we mention a social life, a really good fun relationship with ones partner?) and BOOM! A mothers life is served up on a very messy fast food tray.
So that’s what I’ve been trying to get a handle on. Balancing the aspects of my life that make my life meaningful and keeping up with the needs of four little Princes. Ironically as soon as I think I’ve got it right, and have found a peaceful balance everything changes. Ear infections which needs grommets, soccer season with it’s three soccer matches a week to go to (and that’s excluding Sunday matches), and behavioural and academic challenges pop up like shooting, over exuberant pop corn seeds.
Your time is not your own as a mother, unless you go to an office, and now with our smart phones, we parent via email, whattsapp and phone all day. It’s a 24 hour unappreciated job. No wonder so many women are on anti depressants. (I do think anti-depressants are the way to go if you’re not coping.) The pressures are too great, the demands are insane, and nothings going to change except ourselves. So this week whilst reassessing the fact that I’m not completely coping, and as I face a fifty page assessment to fill out, I am trying to draw on my sanity resources. I’ve realised that there are very practical ways of dealing with the internal and external chaos that we all carry.
So here’s what I’ve been doing:
1. Remember the Law of Thermodynamics
This is the law of entropy. All things tend to disorder and chaos. We have to continuously expend energy to keep some sort of sane order. Knowing this reassures me, because it’s not just me, it’s everybody (even those who pretend otherwise), we are all dealing with the reality that life (especially with children) is unpredictable.
2. Balance JOY with WORK
I don’t like (read – loathe, despise, avoid at all costs) admin. So I procrastinate until it’s sitting on my head like soggy toilet paper. Then I can’t ignore it anymore and frantically I buckle down and get it done. My cortisol levels by this stage are sky high.This is not ideal, especially as mothering involves ALOT of admin. I was advised by my acupuncturist as I came to my session in overwhelmed tears to calm down. To assess all that I don’t like doing and then balance it with what I do like doing. So barter my way through the stodgy jobs with cups of cappucino, yoga classes and writing exercises. This may seem babyish. But it’s my inner child who’s rebelling against having to be the GROWN UP all the time. Through speaking to her and feeding her needs, to also be important, to also have fun, to also have her needs met then I can better cope with my four Princes and husband, rather than giving, giving, giving and crashing at the end of the day. So that’s what I’ve done today. Written my list of jobs out. Sipped a Cappucino whilst filling out the assessment – voila it’s done. I feel better and am now moving to the other jobs of my day. Ticking my list as I go.
3. Quality Time is better than Quantity Time
One of my biggest stresses is that I feel that I’m trying to be there for everybody and end up being there for no body. One of the best pieces of parenting advice I’ve ever received is that it’s better to be really present with our children rather than spending lots of time resentfully. A game of backgammon in the middle of a busy day is worth a lot more than begrudgingly schlepping children to the shops. Children just want to be seen, and to feel important to us. Just remembering this, makes me stop take a deep breath in and prioritise my time with care.
Of course there are a lot more coping mechanisms. We all are bumbling along coping with being women, mothers, wives, friends, hopefully most of the time with joy. Through it all I think one of the main things to remember is that we’re not alone. That always makes me feel better.