Source | Jobsforher.com | Naomi George
This summer I went on a mum-and-daughter holiday with my mother to celebrate her sixtieth; something we had promised each other we would do when the moment came. We went to Italy, her dream and also mine, and had a wonderful time marinating in history, frescoes, sculpture and the sheer beauty of the country. It was wonderful and I feel blessed to have been able to do it with her.
Meanwhile my husband had taken my children to Sydney to his family, and so they got a vacation as well. Well at least the kids did, I know he had to clean more bottoms than he ever had to at home, though he most gallantly has not said a word about it. Yes, today gallant for mums mean hubbies who clean bottoms, cook and bathe their children. To hell with saving the female species from fainting or whatever, we’ll save ourselves, just do the groceries instead!
On our return I asked my husband if the kids had missed me, sure that my 3.5 year old-son would have, even if my 6.5 year-old daughter might not have. ‘No, not really, they didn’t ask for you’ he said. ‘Not even Zane, not when he fell sick the last few days’? ‘No, only on the plane-ride back home’, came the reply.
I felt quite deflated. I the omnipresent ‘mamma’, perpetually present, larger than life; the one who ensured they were fed, bathed, cleaned , lugged them to doctors , wiped snotty noses and checked temperatures at god-forsaken hours had not been missed?! And what about the story-prayer-bed-time routine I religiously did every night, after all of the above and working to boot?!
‘It’s a good thing, right?’ my husband said. I tried to agree convincingly and failed. It was a good thing; it should have been a good thing. I mean that’s what we’re doing aren’t we? Helping our children build their wings to be independent and responsible. To move forward, create their own happiness and lives without needing parental or motherly shoulders to stand on. Then, why this hollow feeling? ‘Excellent, excellent’, I muttered and wandered off to have a think. I was being ridiculous and knew it.
I also knew that I was damn well going to go after my alternate/new career with a vengeance, just so I wouldn’t sit at home and mope, and feel rejected and useless, when my children walked out the door at 18. I would be proud, kiss them goodbye, have a look at their college digs and then schedule my next meeting at work. My life would go on. I couldn’t afford to have my entire sense of self wrapped up in my kids.
On 31st March this year, I quit my job in hospitality because I wanted to forge a career in something I was passionate about. My aim was to work on a program designed for women who return to work after having babies or a break, and who then need to play ‘catch-up’ with the rest, while also grappling with confidence and self-worth issues.
And so I quit and decided to spend the summer vacation at home with the kids, while doing research into companies that invested in programs for their female employees. Well that was the intention, the reality was I did absolutely nothing about it; the kids and home took over and the days passed.
Well, post this little reality check, this mamma is getting back on the wagon. It’s time to reinvent myself again, to ensure the ‘me’ within my mum is alive. I must stay relevant, build up skills, so I can have an alternate life that is solely about me.
Seeking validation of self through children is unhealthy and potentially represents a Pandora’s Box of problems. Acceptance and value of self must come from within, and then there will be no need to seek validation, because there will be no need for it. It’s time to focus on the ‘me’ within my mum!