It’s been a strange old month. I have found myself feeling rather emotional and lost and questioning “who I am” beyond my role as a mum. I love the word mother and am so proud to be able to call myself that, especially as it was a dream for so long to be a mum.
So this isn’t about me not appreciating that special role I play. This has a huge amount to do with anxiety and a giant dollop of lack of self esteem. I have always worried about wether I am good enough and have put a huge amount of pressure on myself across various aspects throughout my life. I am my own worst critic and quite often feel what I am doing is not enough but this lately I’ve been feeling this more often
I think if I really consider the underlying issue there are a number of influences;
Social media– I love Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms and am absolutely an ambassador to the positive part they can play in supporting new mums and communities of people. Hell, I heavily contribute to them. The snippets though of lives that you see through those little squares can seem so glossy and great. They are the supermodels of the social media world making us mere mortals look like disheveled messes and it is hard to not compare yourself against what you see. They have great homes, great kids and great jobs. They are todays celebrities and yes like the models, singers and actors whom have come before there is part of me that aspires to be just like them.
What I regularly have to do and have been rather poor at this month, hence the down days, is remind myself that what we see is the rose coloured version of those peoples lives. Realistic me knows that for all the good that is shared they too have a load of shit going on as well. What I contribute to social media is the edited bits I wish to share with the world and have to remind silly me when I’m feeling all down trodden not to compare but to embrace the community.
My job scenario– I made a pretty tough decision when returning from maternity leave that I would pack in my job as a teacher. A lot of this was due to the lack of flexibity myself and my employer could agree on ( by the way flexible working for mums is still a huge issue, the amazing Mother Pukka Flex appeal challenges employers to look at how they can offer more flexibity for parents wishing to return to work, look it up). This and my desire to spend time getting to know my kids has resulted in the work I do being freelance and agency based. Although brilliant as far as flexibility is concerned, pay, and job satisfaction is another thing and I miss greatly the career I built and treasured in my days before babies.
It also means the money I bring to the household is down almost 2/4 and whereas before when my contributions to household and life expenses were equal to my husbands, my inability now to contribute leaves me feeling inadequate. I also find that whenever with my friends, who are for the most part mothers themselves, that once again I feel I am lacking, that I no longer contribute to society and that I am a lesser person as a result. Most of them work part time or full time and I do sometimes feel as I don’t compare in what I have to deal with not really working. It is easy to bypass the fact that a stay at home ( in whatever capacity) is in itself a full time job.
This in itself is a STUPID emotion to expose myself to, of course I contribute, I still pay taxes and I still make a difference. So what If I don’t have a career, I’ve had one and can have one again. I have a job as a mother and although it lacks the benefits of holidays, team building days and a regular pay rise, it is the most challenging and rewarding job I have had to date. Its a shame it isn’t seen with the same credentials when writing your CV. And finally I am sure my friends nor my husband think I am a good for nothing gold digging scrounger! Do they?
My ability as a mother– I’m on my phone maybe a little too much. I don’t do all the amazing activities I thought I always would. I do use television as a way of having a break. The twins do probably eat too many snacks and not enough vegetables. There are so many aspects of parenting to beat yourself up about. Every tiny development of your child can be scrutinised, every behaviour worried over. The role of a parent can feel like a lifetimes version of the dragons den where every action, decision and move you make feels like its being judged over by those far more experienced than you.
It’s easy to feel as if what we do is not enough when actually it is more than enough. The kids are alive, check. They are fed, check. They are clothed, check. They are more importantly happy, check check check! What more do we expect ourselves to do? and yet it is a feeling I imagine every parent has felt, that feeling of not doing enough for their child. Reality check Emma, you are doing great!
It was one particularly challenging day last week that broke my camels back and poor husband was left dealing with a blubbering mess. It was he who told me to write it down and share and although there is so very many more aspects to my worries and anxieties I think for the most part over the last few weeks I had lost a sense of my greater purpose right now which is, to be a mother. I am still looking for new challenges, I still believe I need to look at who I am and how, I move forward and look for new directions, embrace the fact that my life is different and there are changes which will need to be made. That there is all the time in the world to earn a living and make my mark on society. What I really need to address is the fact that this isn’t going to happen over night, these things will take time. And whilst that happens I MUST enjoy the space, time and flexibilty staying at home and being with my girls offers. And I must also take the smiles, kisses and cuddles that they give me everyday as confirmation that what I am doing is okay and that this is going to be the best job for life I will ever have. I’m going to have down days but I mustn’t let them take over. I’ve got this!