Bringing up children is so intense. Every day is a carefully choreographed programme of activities, chores, routines. The practical logistics dominate: I cook healthy meals, I drive from appointment to school to training and to birthday parties. I fold washing. I negotiate peace deals, I arbitrate in major meltdowns. I test times tables and mentally count fruit and vegetable serves. And at the same in the back of my mind I am thinking about the big stuff too…constantly trying to instil good habits, share positive values, model the sort of behaviour which will hopefully churn out a well-adjusted adult who can function in the world. Then I fold more washing.
And at the same time I do my stuff too. I work hard, I build my career, I work on fitness and health. I nurture relationships with my loved ones, and try to prioritise checking in with them regularly.
Is it any wonder I can get to the end of the day, and am sometimes so bone-shatteringly tired. Sometimes I am so sick of thinking about so much stuff. I just want to ignore the world, and watch Netflix or curl up in bed with a good book. I don’t want to talk, I don’t want to give. Anything to anyone. I just want to be left alone.
Sometimes I get annoyed with the chaos and intensity of life. I will see a Facebook post of a childless friend and pine for the freedom to completely focus on the job at hand. And I will feel envious. Or I will look at my hard working friends scaling incredible heights on their career ladders and I will feel inadequate. How the heck do they fit it all in? Why they don’t look overwhelmed? And I will beat myself up for not pushing harder or getting more done. Or I will look around and ask: why am I the only one picking up around here? And it will send me into a quiet fury. Am I the family slave? Really?
But I saw a quote once that stopped me in my tracks : the days are long, but the years are short. The days may feel intense, busy, overscheduled. Other days may feel interminable, as your pick up the pre-schoolers toys again, wipe their face and their bum (not in that order) again, answer their questions about why they can’t have a pet dinosaur AGAIN. Its ground hog day.
But these years of having children fly by so quickly. Before you know it, they don’t need you to blow their nose, walk them to the classroom, cook their breakfast. You know it’s going to come to an end one day, you then you will miss their sweet and intense neediness with a heartache that’s already familiar to me.
So these are the thoughts that I fill myself up with, when I feel the weight of inadequacy start to descend. Or the green-eyed monster lurks on the Facebook page.
• Growing small humans is one of the most insanely important things ever.
• Whatever is going on in my life is a phase, it won’t last forever. Every phase has its good times, and challenges.
• I chose this life. And I choose to enjoy it.
• It is up to me whether I am remembered as a cross, rushing mum, or a calmer, happier one.