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Reflections on motherhood

My first experience of motherhood

I know I said in my first post that this blog is not just about or for mothers and the problems they face.

And for the most part, I think I’ve succeeded in avoiding the topic apart from passing references to the kids.

But sometimes being a mother is really really hard, especially a working/studying mother – and today I feel like acknowledging that fact on behalf of the sisterhood.

I grew up in a family where mum did not work for most of her adult life, she only took on some school hour shifts in the Myer Cafeteria once I was a teenager, the last of her 7 children.

She often told me that all she had ever wanted was to “be a mum”, and in a bizarre coincidence when I was to meet my birth mother as a 19-year-old, I was to hear almost the exact same words from her.

So whether because of environment or genetics, I always planned to be a mother. I’ve always loved kids, I grew up surrounded by nieces and nephews.  I planned to have 3 children (girl, boy, girl). I was only going to work until I had children, I never planned or really wanted to have a career.

“Ba Bong” – incorrect. Funny how life sometimes doesn’t turn out the way you planned.  I have only the two children, and I have discovered this year that I need to work for my own self-worth and sanity as much as for any financial reason.

But another thing I never realised and no-one warned me about, was how hard it is to be a mother. First of all there is the guilt.

"mother guilt" from google images

As  a working mother, I have never quite managed to assuage my mother guilt. Either I feel I am a bad employee as I have to leave the meeting at 3pm to pick up the kids from school – or I believe I have just become the worst mother in the world because I am 15 minutes late to pick up Zach from school after staying in said meeting. Que tears from my normally very independent child – “I thought you were never coming to pick me up. Why didn’t you come? Don’t you care about me”. You get the picture.

Then there is the feeling of a knife through your heart whenever your child is hurt. I wonder if this ever goes away?

It might be friendship issues – recently Zach was told by 2 of his 3 best mates they no longer wanted to be his friend. Another boy in the class told him not to bother standing for election as a Junior School Councillor because “no-one in the class likes you”. (He seems to have been wrong – Zach did get elected). Other boys who Zach invited to his birthday party in March have not returned the favour and invited him to their recently held parties – surely a breach of party etiquette, but either way it leaves my son feeling rejected and hurt.

Zach channelling his inner Village People...a giggle for the punters

Or hearing from Chloe, who I believe has a very kind and caring heart (she was sobbing at the dinner table last night when seeing the news about 11 people dying in a Brisbane house fire) that one of her oldest and formerly closest friends at school now describes her as “a bitch” – although Chloe has no idea why.

So being a mother can bring you guilt and hurt. For me, it can also bring out the “fish wife” within. The screeching mother yelling in frustration.  I used to believe I was the only “bad mother” who reacted this way, until a few of my friends were brave enough to yell at their kids in front of me. I now believe most mothers yell at the kids from time to time. Or lie about it.

Of course there are wonderful aspects to being a mum. Proud moments from this past week alone – like Zach getting elected as a JSC, or the opposition Basketball coach pulling Chloe aside after the game to commend her on how well she played. Or when they tell you there is “No way you are the world’s strictest parents – you’re the world’s best parents!”

My babies looking like butter wouldn't melt in their mouthes..

I may not have turned out to be the mother I expected or to as many children as I planned. I am no “earth mother” or domestic goddess. I make mistakes and I’m not always as mentally present when I am with them as I should be.

But I do love them with all my heart, and as they grow older, I find I am really enjoying spending time in their company.

And I guess that’s a pretty good space to be in.

“Oommpa” till next time (Russian for have a good time – well, that’s how it seemed after a truckload of vodka shots anyway).

Ali.

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