More often than not, as a mother it can feel like we’re constantly on the go.
There’s a reason why motherhood is unpaid. No one could afford us! Even with one daughter now in university, and the other doing A levels, I feel just as busy as when they were toddlers. Sometimes, more so.
I remember those days when I had just one daughter ~ that glorious first year of parenting where I swear I was the best mother in the world. I was, actually. I loved motherhood!
There’s a question a man asked me during that time, and it was this: so what do you do all day?
Some men just have NO idea! Although my parenting looks different now than it did 18 years ago, one thing is clear: motherhood doesn’t come with annual holidays!
I decide to write down what I did yesterday. It looked like this:
6am Woke up and practised Hoʻoponopono (ho-o-pono-pono) ~ an ancient Hawaiian practice of reconciliation and forgiveness. http://www.hooponopono.org/
Stood on the porch breathing in the fresh smell of a new day (one of my favourite pick-me-ups), then loaded up an armful of firewood to light the upstairs fire so it would be cosy when Eliza, my 16-year-old, woke up sometime mid morning.
Made lunch for my husband to take to work.
Had a luxurious hot shower and ate breakfast.
8.30am Drove him to work (he works as Santa Claus each year at Center Parcs during November and December)
9.30 Home again
Edited two articles for Starflower Living magazine while Eliza was still sleeping. http://www.starflowerpress.com/living/index.shtml
Moved three loads of firewood up the garden.
Vacuumed upstairs and downstairs lounge rooms. Cleaned the kitchen floor.
Cleaned bathroom and ensuite.
Put on a load of washing.
Folded a load of washing from two days ago. It seems to take forever to dry clothes at this time of year!
Hung up new load of washing to dry by the woodstove.
Ordered Heart of the Labyrinth (by Nicole Schwab). See how easy it is to sneak in a bit of self-love into the day?
Made lunch for my daughter.
Made sweetcorn and curry falafel for dinner.
Chatted with a friend who popped by with some awesome photos from her world travels (see them in issue 6 of Starflower Living).
12.30 Drove my daughter to her job as a catering assistant at the gym café.
Picked up some vegetables at the shop.
Danced a jig in Sainsbury’s car park (about 50 times) upon learning my brother and his fantastic partner have finally got engaged (so looking forward to an Outback Wedding in Australia! Whoop Whoop!!!! I’ve been asked to be the celebrant. WHAT AN HONOUR!)
1.30pm Drove home again singing very loudly!
Baked a gluten-free apple and cinnamon cake with almond crumble for Saturday night dessert.
Washed dishes (I’m sure they breed all on their own!)
Chopped kindling (unsuccessfully)
Laid out kindling and wood in downstairs fire so it was ready to light when we got in.
Took out compost.
Took phone call from hyper uni daughter (something about hair dye and train ticket home for Christmas and asking me what I’m going to cook when she visits for a couple of days this week. Oh the pressure!)
Fed cat. Gave said cat lecture about starving cats in Africa and not to turn his nose up at the food in his dish!
2pm Fed myself.
Washed more dishes.
Proofread some more of Transcend (the third book in Eliza’s Three Stages trilogy)
4.45pm Drove back to town. Sang loudly to Kenny Chesney to wake myself up.
Spent an hour at the gym in fitness suite until Eliza finished work.
Hung out with my daughter for an hour at Costa and chatted about philosophers while waiting for husband to finish work at 6.30pm. She’d received a Kahlil Gibran book in the post from my mum that morning, and was loving it.
Home just after 7pm.
Lit downstairs fire.
Had dinner together (so glad I made it early in the day!)
Watched some Nashville to unwind (my favourite show)
Spent a few minutes reading a book called When I Loved Myself Enough.
Husband (gorgeous man that he is) massaged my back and Eliza’s with magnesium oil. http://drsircus.com/books/e-book/transdermal-magnesium-therapy/
I’m sooooooooo ready for bed. Just want to collapse!
When I’m at my most exhausted, my daughter will ask for a cuddle before bed.
“Cuddle” is code for: can I lie on your bed with you and talk? These ‘talks’ can last a very long time, and boy do I get into trouble if I dare close my eyes or start snoring!
Today is Sunday
And guess what? I get to do all that again today, though in a somewhat different order!
By 8.30, we headed out the door so I could drop Paul and Eliza off at work for her 9am start. I’d been awake a couple of hours. Made their lunches, and managed to have a shower and eat some breakfast.
By 9.20, after dropping Paul off, I am in the gym. During my work out I enjoy listening to Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ audio The Dangerous Old Woman.
By 11am, I am home again. A few hours reprieve until I pick Eliza up at 2pm, bring her home, and then go back to town to get Paul tonight at 6.30.
I chop kindling, and carry an armful of wood to my writing room. While that’s lighting, I head downstairs and put on a load of Eliza’s washing. The kettle has boiled.
Me time! I brew a mug of dandelion and burdock tea and grab a handful of walnuts.
Feel immense gratitude that there is some leftover celery soup on the stove that I can eat for lunch. It’s also a reminder to make more soup for Eliza to take to school tomorrow.
I light a stick of Nag Champa incense. It’s the smell of home. My home. I feel myself relax.
However, I’m conscious of all the jobs that need doing: vege beds need weeding before the snow comes. A massive pile of twigs and branches needs burning. The paths need sweeping of leaves and moss so nobody slips when coming or going from the house.
The skirting boards need the dust coming off.
I want to prepare the spare bedroom for Bethany’s flying visit this week. Eliza moved into her bedroom when she left for uni, so I need to make sure her new room feels ‘comfy’ for her. (Even when they leave home, the mothering doesn’t stop!)
Not today. None of the jobs will happen today.
For now, it’s just me: a cup of tea, a room that smells great, and the crackle of the fire. Just me, and the sound of the click of the keyboard. Peace.
Mothering can feel like being tethered to the kitchen sink. And some days, it is literally like that. But, as with anything in life, we have a choice. We always have a choice. The sink can be a refuge. My hands in hot water for ten minutes warms me up beautifully. It’s a time to look out the window and relax into the view of the trees or enjoy watching the birds.
My two hours spent in the car (over three journeys each day this weekend) can be a time to chat with my family, or, when I’m on my own, to have thinking time or listen to Mozart or other music depending on my mood.
I learnt early on, as a journalist, to be constantly aware of my surroundings. My list above doesn’t include the red squirrel I delighted in seeing this morning as I drove through a beautiful forest, or the lovely smile from a man at the gym.
It doesn’t include the great text message which made my day. Nor does it include all the spaces in between.
For example, moving firewood up the garden, while being a chore, is also a wonderful time to breathe fresh air, run my fingers along the cypress or grab a raspberry. The joy of planting Autumn Bliss raspberries is that you can actually have the pleasure of eating fresh, in-season, fruit in November!
Finding joy in our mothering is about embracing the jobs we do, but also breathing in the spaces that are inbetween. It’s allowing ourselves to see and feel motherhood as a moving meditation. Folding my daughter’s laundry is a time to slow down and realise that she, too, like her older sister, will soon be out in the world.
Taking out the compost and giving myself a minute to stand under the trees gives me a chance to say ‘thanks’ for being in a country and time in history that offers me fresh fruit and vegetables. I will never forget my mother, born in wart-time Germany, telling me the only time they had fresh fruit was at Christmas. It was simply unaffordable.
Moving firewood gives me a chance to be thankful that we have both the luxury and necessity of having a natural element in our home.
Washing dishes is a moment to be grateful that I’m not a beggar or eating food from bins. I have dishes. I have a home. I have a kitchen sink. Got dishes to wash? Suck it up, princess!
Every job of mothering is a gift that allows us, if we choose, to go within. We can feel like slaves, duty-bound to the constant needs of a family, or we can act like a goddess and go gracefully through the day.
In astrology, motherhood is represented by the zodiac sign, Cancer (nurturing). While this is largely what we do, I often feel that the sign Virgo would be more appropriate. It is the sign of service. And isn’t that what we do, as mothers? We serve.