I had a friend come over with her two young children today. We started several conversations. I don’t think we finished a single one. She is a great Mum. She doesn’t stop.
I spent yesterday afternoon with another friend of mine. Her two children had friends over. They are all a few years older than today’s children. She is a great Mum. She, also, doesn’t stop.
My nephews and a niece were here last Saturday. My niece is old enough now to look after herself. My nephews still need time and constant effort. My nieces used to be the same. Both of my sisters are great mums. They don’t stop.
Last week I spent time in Wagga with some friends I have had for over ten years now, since their two were 10 and 8. They are very easy to look after these days, but it hasn’t always been the case and they still require time. They are great parents. They still rarely stop.
Parenting, and mothering in particular, must be the most thankless and the most exhausting job of all time. Kids take you to your limits, and then push you that little bit further, just to see if you can endure it.
They need constant entertainment, they always need to be learning and having behaviour corrected or praised, they are always hungry, and they truly believe the Earth exists solely for their pleasure. Lol. Okay, some of this might be exaggerated. Sometimes.
They are relentless hard work. Just on their own, with their contexts just perfect, without trauma and without anything else impacting.
Realistically, most mother’s lives are not just perfect. Most mums work in and out of the home (and truthfully, inside is more than enough for anyone) and in contemporary society, most mums come from trauma or hardship (seventies and eighties were not kind decades).
Battling and resolving your own demons, whilst trying to provide the very best for your offspring, catering to everyone’s needs and demands, including society’s, and finding time to still be who you are and have some balance, makes existence really hard.
My mum, born during World War Two, forced out of home to live with other people so that she could be educated, leaving her home country of Finland 🇫🇮 to travel, finding ‘love’ in Australia, and marrying to settle here, did not have it easy. The marriage did not work and she was left with three daughters to raise on minimum income. Hurt and feeling betrayed, lost and lonely, she did the best she could with what she knew at the time.
I am grateful for that and for her.
For a while, I blamed my parents (illogically) for my inability to conceive. My non-biological daughter came into my life as a teen so I missed the chaos and self-doubt of raising a young child. I see that fear and self-doubt a lot in the eyes and words of parents, especially mothers. They worry that they aren’t enough, that they are messing up their kids, that they aren’t doing enough, that they are in some way failing their children.
Unless you are not present, and by present I mean in full mindful presence not just physically around, you are doing a good job.
Are you perfect? No.
But, your imperfections will be teaching your children tolerance and resilience, and you are modelling that they do not have to be perfect to be more than enough. They are valuable, important and perfect just as they are.
And, this my friends, is the best gift you can give your children.
Tonight, as I write this, I know why I am a mother to many rather than my own. I don’t have the personality or the patience or the selflessness required to be a present birth parent. This is not to say I couldn’t do it. If I had to, I would have. I’m grateful I didn’t have to.
I love my life as much as my friends with children love theirs. It is okay to be different and to follow a different path. It is important to own our limitations, and to be good with them. Mothering is an exceptionally important job, more important than it is given acknowledgement for. So, I acknowledge my friends that are parents. I acknowledge my sisters. I acknowledge my own Mum.
You are all more than enough. You are doing a phenomenal job, even when you are in the shower, or in your bed, or in the car, sobbing that you fear you aren’t, or that it’s all too hard, or you just want five minutes alone. I am grateful to you. It is hard, but you are succeeding, even when it feels like you aren’t.
I hope your children show their appreciation this Christmas. You deserve that.
My three kids are kids I can handle … shameless plug for my alternative children.