The post I’m about to write is in part inspired by this post written by Cybele of Serendipity in Chaos which had me nodding along in agreement, but the real catalyst for me writing about it myself, instead of just reading Cybele’s words and nodding was a discussion I had with a friend this morning.
In fact, this post could really just be an open letter to that friend, with the hope that other readers might take some comfort in it too.
We hung out with our friends this morning for another meet up of the Denmark natural learners crew. We’re rocking that by the way, we’ve caught up quite a bit in the last couple of weeks and it’s been nice. I’m sure it’ll be even nicer when my family moves closer than 50km away from the rest of them too!
On the way to the meet up Bean and I talked about how refreshing it was to spend time with people who are very real. People who authentically express how they’re feeling, where they’re at, what’s going on for them. These people are people we don’t feel a need to put on a face for, because they’re just real so we can be too. There’s no feeling like we’re imposters around them, we don’t feel inadequate, we don’t feel that we have to put on a “perfect family” facade. We feel accepted and honored for being us, not for being something else. We can admit that homeschooling is hard at times (a lot of times!). We can admit that we sometimes wonder why the hell we’re doing it. We can admit that we’ve fantasised more than once this week about our lives in a parallel universe, the lives of us without children! We can admit that we’re not traveling so well and we don’t feel weak or inadequate for that. We don’t feel judged, we just feel understood.
So there we were, talking about the realness of that particular family when we pulled up in their driveway this morning.
We greeted each other, the sproggets all settled in to play with each other for a couple of hours, and we adults chatted.
My friend, this Mother I had just been admiring told me she’d read my blog and cried. She thought she was getting it wrong and I was getting it right. Which is just oh so wrong! I’m not doing it “right”. I’m just doing it the best I can. I’m doing it like an ordinary Mother.
One of my main motivations in keeping this blog is that I am such a damned pessimist that I need something to prompt me to be positive. Writing this blog forces me to look for the positives in my life so I can document them here. I want to write about the good things so when I look back on this time that my babies were so little I can be reminded of the wonderful bits. I find it easy to remember the bad bits without writing them down, but the good bits take a little more effort to remember. In a haze of exhaustion, feeling isolated and undersupported, I have a tendency to spiral into depression and while a private journal and my art journal have been places I’m able to write without censorship, this blog is the place where I write while wearing rose coloured glasses (most of the time!). Optimism doesn’t really come easily to me. I tend to be negative, and it’s a pattern I’m trying to change. I seem to be more positive now than I used to be, so this conscious effort to change is working, but it’s not easy and I find that I slip back into a pessimistic mindset like I slip into my comfortable old jeans.
Trying to focus on positives has been particularly hard for me over the last few months as we’ve navigated our way through financial stresses, employer induced stresses, study induced stresses, family induced stresses and the big one of living in a weeny little shed with a camp toilet and no washing machine (with a baby in cloth nappies) for 5 months. I yelled at my sproggets more than I want to remember. I yelled at their Dad too. I even told them all that having a family was the biggest mistake I’d ever made. I’ve done that more than once too! Oh how I needed this blog then, inspiring me to find the joy in my life over a long, wet Winter cooped up in this little space with two understimulated sproggets and a glorified bucket for a toilet. It was a glorified bucket that made a tough situation a little easier, a glorified bucket that I was extremely grateful for the loan of, but it was still not a patch on a real toilet. Nor is the shed a patch on a real house with room, a house with rooms! There’s only so many times I can fall over my children while they play in the too small living space we have before I start to lose my sense of humour and feel very smothered.
I don’t want anyone to read my blog and think for a second that I have it all together. I’m as fractured as the next person, parent or not, I just don’t blog about those bits so much. I yell, I swear, I say hurtful things, I cry, I rage and I have Mama tantrums. I have really hard days, and I have some days that just work. I like to write about the days that work because those posts are a bit of inspiration for me to read over the times when it’s not working, the crappy days. Also, it’s a bit embarrassing to write about the times I’ve sworn at Moe when he poked my chest and requested another freaking breastfeed, or how I told Sprout to just bloody well leave me alone because I didn’t want to listen to her whinging anymore. Those memories are etched in my mind anyway, I don’t want to write about them. The burning shame of being nasty to my babies because I just felt so overwhelmed by the enormity of parenting them. It’s not a nice feeling. It’s one I’m sure every parent knows, and one that’s hard to shake.
When Sprout was a newborn and my midwife was still visiting quite regularly for my antenatal appointments I told her I felt guilty about something I’d done (or not done?). Today I don’t even remember what it was, I’ve done so many more things in the time between then and now that I feel guilty about, but what I do remember is what my midwife said to me. She welcomed me to motherhood and told me I’d have a multitude of things to feel guilty about for the rest of my life! She was right, you know. I constantly question whether I’m doing the right thing, whether I’m giving my children a million and one reasons to be in therapy when they’re adults. Whether I’m giving them enough, or even too much.
All of that makes for kinda heavy blog fodder though, so while there is the odd post about the hard times and the inner turmoil, I try to keep it positive.
The thing I took away from today is that we can admire someone so much and not really let them know. You know? I had just been talking about how great this woman is, how much I enjoy being with her, and she was feeling down on herself. Someone might be bumbling through their life thinking they’ve got it wrong, thinking they’re pretty terrible, and all the while someone else might be simultaneously admiring them. So, I’m going to try to open up a bit more, to tell people what I love about them. I’m going to express my admiration because I think everyone needs a bit of admiration now and then.
I’ll start with the friend who has inspired this blog post because I don’t think I did a good enough job today of telling her how much I admire her.
I hope you’re reading this, friend, and I hope that if you’re crying this time it’s tears of joy and love for yourself because I think you really are quite wonderful!