THE LAST DAY OF WINTER
This winter has been my first with two children. And it has been full of fun and we've had wonderful times but it has also been hard, like the feeling of walking through deep mud and not quite having your balance. For me, being at home full time with my children is a continuous challenge. I crave more adult company, time spent without little hands clawing at my hair or chest or toddler feet standing on me so as to better reach my face to pull it around to theirs. I've looked dispairingly at snotty noses wiping on my shoulder or the umpteenth pile of laundry in the corner and thought that this is all a bit shit. I've wanted to be able to drink a long awaited cup of tea without Ira trying to dip her hand into the cup or Linny interrupt it because she's not managed to get to the potty on time, again. When I talk about these moments with friends I often make light of them, because they are funny in retrospect, or just that tales of 'happy chaos' are easy listening for friends who I want to make smile. But actually these demands on my time and body and attention can leave me feeling empty, exhausted and sad. It's just there's not too much time for reflection so I don't always realise.
One motivation for me to begin writing a blog was to try and write honestly about the more difficult aspects of life and in particular motherhood. To not project a false image of an idyllic 'lifestyle' with beautiful children, like a package, beautifully wrapped in flattering filters making me look less tired and the sky more blue. I have a terrible, unhealthy habit of seeing these pictures and forgetting that these are snapshots of lives as complex as my own and feeling inadequate.
I set myself the task of being honest and honouring life's patchwork of feelings and emotions and experiences and not just make it all look great. Sometimes things are hard, sad or unpleasant and sometimes things are beautiful, fun and perfect, and sometimes it's a bit of both.
This last week has definitely been the latter and has led me to think about something I read a few months ago. It was a feature in the adult supplement of Linny's Pomme d'Api magazine and it asked the reader to what extent they nurtured four elements of who they are : Mere, Maman, Amoureuse and Femme (or Pere, Papa, Amoureux and Homme). The article was very much about how easy it is to not give equal attention to these roles and to lose touch with the parts 'femme' and 'amoureuse' as the sheer engery required to fulfil the roles as a mother and mummy all too often take over. I don't generally like 'labelling' as I think it can be reductive and brush over the shades and nuances of who we are. It can lead people to make misguided assumptions based on their understanding of a word and not see who somebody really is. However, earlier this week I wrote a list of different aspects of who I feel I am, was, would like to be and found it really helpful in trying to escape from, in that moment, what felt like my singular identity as a mother and care giver : Adventurer, carer, lover, writer, rager...
So my resolution after this pondering is to nuture more of myself, to set my daughters the example of a woman who is made up of many parts and who gives time each of these parts. And, in doing so I think I will delight even more in the moments of magic my daughters bring and the overwhelming, intoxicating love I have for them.
These are some of the things I am going to try to do every few days for myself.
- listen to song that moves me
- look at a photograph, piece of art that inspires me
- read writing that provokes me
- call/ text/ write to a friend
- do some form of unambitious exercise
I think this is all something I need to bear in mind ever more so over the coming months as the big move to France creeps closer and we frantically try to see everyone, visit everywhere and pack everything. At the moment I have managed to only have a fortnightly breakdown about the move and I'm trying to keep it at that, for Florent's sake. Hopefully the beginning of Spring and these new resolutions will help me to keep my balance a bit better...