Tuesday 1 October 2013

Letting Go

It's just turned 1pm and so far today I have done the following: stripped guest bed, put on first load of laundry, prepared breakfast for family, dressed myself and little one, cleaned bathroom, cleaned up after breakfast, tried (& failed) to get little one down for a morning nap, unpacked delivered grocery shopping, put a second load of laundry on, finished off the soup I started last night, hung out laundry, put away clothes and toys, changed a light bulb, realised new light bulb is wrong size, sent a few emails, took little one on bus to get some fresh fruit and vegetables, made lunch, tidied up lunch, finally got her down for a nap, washed up everything and tidied kitchen, prepared dinner for tonight and lunch for tomorrow and got our bags ready for swim class once little one wakes. 

Why am I listing this?

Today a conversation, or theme has been following me and I wanted to write about it. I am not good at letting go when it comes to the house. I grew up in the kind of house where there was never a compromise on house work. Laundry was always attended to, things were clean and we rarely ran out of store cupboard things. Over the years I've worked hard to cut loose a little but the best improvement I've made in my perfectionism is admitting that when it comes to chores, I don't let go easily. In admitting this, I got better at managing it and believe it or not, that list is about half what it would have been ten years ago. 

Becoming a mother is a little similar. You have to admit that there's the person you want to be and then the reality of who you really are. For me, I wanted to be this calm, easy going zen like mother who let things like soup on the floor go and laughed in the face of routine. I'd thought I couldn't have children from the age of about 19. I'd been told it either wouldn't be possible to conceive, keep the baby or deliver safely. So in my mind, if I ever imagined being a mother, I would be the perfect mother because the sheer fact that I'd managed to have a baby would overrule any uptight behaviour. When I discovered that I was pregnant, that was the mother I wanted to be. 

Reality is a hard lesson and it's one I think so many women have to come to terms with in the first year of being a mum. I suspect it will be a lesson that I revisit over and over again at each knew phase of Playful Baby's life. Chatting to a friend today she said 'I really had to let go of my ideal image of motherhood though'. It struck a deep chord. 

I think we all put expectations on ourself as mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, partners and co workers. I think the difference between who we hoped to be and who we are can seem enormously vast. It's hard to navigate this chasm of difference when the fantasy seemed so appealing in the first place. 

Letting go doesn't mean giving up on that ideal. It just means I've stepped into the chasm where I can see both sides from where I stand. Hopefully I can take a little of each, mix it up and build a bridge between zen, chilled mum and the mum that drives herself so hard to have a clean house with fresh baked goods each day. 

It's now 1.30pm and I still have half a day left to tip the balance a little. Perhaps I'll sit here just a little longer, snuggled up in hand knits and ponder what fun route we'll take on the way to swimming. The emails and writing can wait till tomorrow. I need to sing, point at the ducks and laugh with mini one instead. 

1 comment:

Navel Gazer said...

Beautifully expressed. I also have perfectionist tendencies and focussing on the important things rather than trying to do everything is hard. And we are our own harshest critics.

What has guided me as the kids have been growing up is to consider what will make a memory for them, e.g. baking and being allowed to make a mess, or baking but me being uptight? or tidy the kitchen right now or spend an extra 10 minutes snuggling? Letting go is a skill to be learned and practise makes perfect.

I imagine you are a wonderful mum.