It’s been a while since I’ve written on here, but now my Facebook posts are getting annoyingly long, I feel it’s a signal that the time has come to start writing again! I was lacking inspiration for a while, and also taking some time out to do some growth and learning! Now we find ourselves going into week 6 of ‘Lockdown’ in the UK, amidst the Covid-19 Global Pandemic. I’ve been solo parenting, working from home and trying to homeschool with limited time for reflection or respite, like many thousands of others. In a lot of ways I consider myself lucky, as I have a garden and a good support network in place to get any supplies etc should I need it. The thing I am most grateful for at the moment though is the ability I have developed to surrender to what is, and to prioritise our little family’s needs, as opposed to other people’s judgements and expectations.
This allows me to detach somewhat from the relentless pressure to be the perfect mother, homemaker, teacher, employee-whatever the particular order of the day seems to be. This weekend was a prime example for me. On Friday I was exhausted, surrounded by mess, and behind on work and school. I was on the verge of throwing all of my remaining energy at rectifying that-having observed other people seemed to be expecting some sort of miracle ability to balance it all and retain my sanity, when it struck me just how de-motivating that felt. I could not have been less enthused. In fact, the thought of ‘gutting the living room’ or ‘catching up on my washing’ as had been suggested to me-only to inevitably find that I then came of a 45 minute work call to paint splattered up my walls or 4 different outfits ruined by lunch- was frankly soul destroying.
So I embraced acceptance of the situation, and that I needed to prioritise doing something for us all to fill up our ‘joy’ metre before I could even think of a plan of action. Instead of giving a new lease of life to an old script- namely that I was somehow a failure or not ‘enough’ and allowing things to get on top of me- I just surrendered to prioritising what I needed in the moment. For the kids, it was a Saturday night pizza, movie and sleepover in the living room. They loved it and the time we all got to spend together. For me, it was fulfilling a dream of mine and shooting a Boudoir photoshoot with Emerald photography- and I spent all Sunday getting ready, setting the scene and generally indulging myself!
The result was that nothing got done over the weekend- but all of us were absolutely buzzing and back in alignment with our happy space energy! Monday came around and I was energised and caught up with a lot to bring home, school and work back into balance. By now, Tuesday night, I’ve not only “caught up” but been productive enough to get back to writing, and energised enough to start a group to support other mums struggling through the lockdown homeschool minefield.
I can’t stress enough how much work it has taken to get to this place. The judgement and criticism levelled at women, in general and in ‘mothering’ in particular can often lead people to feel immense pressure and shame when they don’t feel they live up to what they see as the expected standard. I’ve often felt the weight of expectations overwhelm me in the past-running myself into the ground trying to be the perfect mum, housekeeper, home organiser, entertainer…etc, etc until you’re too exhausted to participate in anything as selfish and indulgent as looking after yourself. Then there comes the guilt that you can’t manage everything well enough to give yourself that! Sometimes when you finally do break and talk to someone about how overwhelming it all is, you can’t help but see well meaning advice as further confirmation that you are, in fact, doing it wrong or just not doing enough- so you shrink back into silence and the cycle begins again.
After this weekend and reminding myself just how beneficial it can be adopting this mindset, I’m making it my mission to stay in this headspace for the rest of lockdown- and to try and hold space to listen and be there to say “I hear you” to those facing similar pressures and frustrations.