I am learning that motherhood is simply full of contradictions and I am starting to believe that it is all in the mind – my mind!
As a stay-at-home mum with a high need for order in my life, I try my best to not just plan my days but also to keep up with an organised routine. I am doing fairly well and so is my two and a half year old. Routine gives us the satisfaction and stability that we both need and have both grown to love. Yet I find myself getting bored of it from time to time. That’s when I kind of crave for some noise and chaos to break the monotony of a toddler care routine. And within minutes of facing the challenges brought about by that “out of the ordinary” routine, I start to miss the calming sense of happiness that comes from the very same monotonous routine which I wanted to escape in the first place. Yes, I hear myself and I know how I sound! This is the paradoxical nature Im talking about. The feeling that “Grass is greener on the other side” followed by an instant realisation of the fact that its not.
As any first time toddler parent, I continue to sacrifice my own sleep to ensure that my little one gets a quality one for herself. Through the day, I then console myself, by counting down to when I can get to make up for the loss of my beauty sleep. Meanwhile, as I am running all of the chores and errands of the day, I simply love observing anything and everything my little one does around me. She’s growing into this wonderful person that I can’t seem to get enough of. Her energy and enthusiasm is so very inspiring and motivating but at the same time it can be so testing and annoying. There’s no doubt that she keeps me on my toes and her zest for life also gives me a purpose to contribute to it all. I enjoy it all thoroughly but at the same time, I’m secretly waiting for my “quiet ME time”. But when I do get that kind of space and time, I find myself wide awake and lost, for no reason as such. Very often, I end up using this time to look at photos of my little one or writing a blog about her and find myself missing her as she sleeps right in front of me. I start thinking about all the awesome stuff she does and how fast she’s growing up! I sit and smile in awe, as I am struck by this feeling of nostalgia. And even before I have made the most out of my much awaited “me-time”, she’s up and about.
And then we are back to the grind, moving at a pace so fast that at times feels like a familiar movie reel going in slow motion. In that grind, a moment to myself is hard to find. A moment of calm, just for myself – physically and mentally. And when I do somehow manage to get that moment, I end up feeling lost, all alone. How can I possibly feel lonely when I am never really alone, when I am constantly spoken to and when I am constantly needed? I am in conversation all the time, yet I feel like I have lost my conversational skills. My brain cells are constantly up and running and yet I feel switched off up there. How can I feel unproductive when I am constantly on my toes, doing something or the other? Why does my “to-do-list” seem so small on paper yet takes up my entire day? How can I want to hold on tight to my little one’s love for me and yet want her to be more independent? Her independence is nothing but a testimony for how I am doing as a mum, yet I tend to constantly question my skills as a first time mum. I feel like I know nothing, and yet I am confident that I’m doing the best for her. I loose my patience and burst out of frustration which is instantly followed by me running to comfort her. I spend my days teaching her to be a better human being and yet wonder if I am in fact living up to it myself. I am constantly feeling divided, sitting on a fence, yet I know that I’m doing the right thing.
I often revisit those days before my little one came along, and think about how life was much simpler in terms of catering to my own likes and needs. Although I didn’t see much value in it back then, I could sleep late without any worry, I could watch tv without being constantly interrupted, I could engage in an adult conversation without any distractions, I could read in quiet and peace, for as long as I wanted … I could practically do any task at my own pace without a clock ticking at the back of my mind and I could just focus on my own “to-do-list” – for the day and for life. Basically I had all the time and space I needed back then. Although exhausting and frustrating in a whole different way, I look back on my decade as a professional educator and can’t help but think about how I loved that feeling of excitement and the whole rush it brought along. It all seems like a different lifetime now but if I have to honest, as much as I might miss those days, I am not willing to turn back time and wouldn’t want to trade in what I have today! NO WAY! I don’t want to loose myself in motherhood and at the same time I can’t seem to be able to let go of my little one’s growing years.
I know it all sounds like a complaint but I‘m not looking for a fix. I know it all sounds like a problem but I’m not looking for a solution. I have come to accept that motherhood is all about embracing these contradictions and making the most out of each and every conflicting moment because very soon, these moments too will be long gone and missed. And even before I realise, I would be walking into another phase of motherhood which will continue to be paradoxical by nature, at a whole new level. But that’s life – moreover a mum’s life and I am learning to love it, just the way it is.