I’ve realised recently there are a lot of things I hate about this motherhood lark. Hate is a strong word, I’ll give you that, but sometimes that is how I feel. For instance, I hate making school lunches only to see them come back uneaten and I detest the sour looks and sneered up noses that greet the wholesome dinners I have spent time and energy cooking. Honestly, sometimes you would think that I’d served up chopped garden slugs on a bed of dog biscuits. I loathe the nagging required to get homework, piano practice and tidying up all done. And I really can’t bare having to be the person constantly standing between them and the sugar laden foods they would prefer to eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between. All of these things leave them scowling at me as though I am an emissary from Planet No-Fun, sent to make their lives as miserable as possible. And I hate that.
Because, all up, it makes me feel like a crap mother. It makes me feel like, if annual reviews were being done, I would be getting a “manage her out the business” rating. And, worse, it makes me wonder whether I am in the right job. It makes me question my choices. It makes me resentful.
Of course, I hope it goes without saying that this, in no way, means I hate being a mother. Absolutely not. I love being a mother. And I especially love being the mother to these two marvellously fabulous little people. I love the spark of warmth I get inside when they ask me to walk to school with them, just because they want to be with me. There is nothing like feeling their little hands, safe and secure, inside mine, while we walk to school in the sunshine. I love the spontaneous “huggles” that my son gives me and hearing my daughter burst into a laughter so infectious it fills a room like butterflies in a rain forest. I love how, hearing a good song on the radio, they rush to turn it up and we dance like crazy buggers around the kitchen. I love being part of the every day adventure that children go on, the constant wide eyed discovery of new things. More than anything I love watching them grow and think and create and shine, and getting to share that journey with them. And I get a deep sense of purpose and meaning from being the person they turn to when sick or sad, scared or hurt, or just because they need a cuddle.
I suspect finding emotional peace in the mothering phase of life may come down to accepting that there are good bits and not so good bits. Accepting that it is not all dress ups and parties, and just because there are bits that make you want to stick your head in a hot oven for something more pleasant to do, it doesn’t mean you aren’t suited to the role of Mother. Motherhood, it seems to me, is about balancing the largely thankless job of mothering against the joy of being a mother. And, I imagine that sort of balance is not something you have at any one point in time, as though standing in the middle of a see-saw, holding some sort of equilibrium. Sometimes you are knee deep in the fun-police part of it. Other times you are reliving your childhood creating volcanoes out of bicarb and vinegar.
Balance, I think, is something you get when you pull it all together, shake it about and weigh it all up. Motherhood is something you have to view holistically, and over time. Maybe this is what I need to remember the next time I am sitting at the dinner table dodging surly looks of discontent and wondering why I did this to myself. That just because, at that moment, I could think of a hundred things I would rather be doing than doing the job required of a mother, it is just for that moment. And it is okay, perhaps even natural, to have moments like that. I’ve certainly had them in every other job I’ve ever held. Because, on balance, the joy of being a mother far outweighs the frustration that comes with the job of mothering. And it doesn’t reflect on how much I love my children or how grateful I am to have them… most of the time.