The Beauty of the Balancing Act
By Nadine Finlay
There are magicians, jugglers, tightrope walkers and then there are mothers.
We are the ultimate puppet masters of our own lives, manipulating life daily, sometimes winning, sometimes falling to a blubbering heap at the end of the day.
I spend my nights making lists in my head. People look at me in the morning and say, “Oh did you have a bad night? Did your son not sleep?”
I just nod. I am embarrassed to say to them, my son sleeps like the world doesn’t exist, utterly and completely gone from it and my face is just an indication of my mental lists, to dos and general musings, that all seem to happen at 1 am.
If I am alone in this, please check me in somewhere with snuggly straitjackets.
Yet the ability to do this, and to multitask is the keystone of motherhood. You just do it. You learn quickly, that the word embarrassment has no meaning. You will eat a sandwich on the toilet if you have to. You will show up to work with the back of your head covered in superhero stickers and when someone tells you, you will shrug and continue what you were doing. You will fight a small child for the last Spiderman action hero and you WILL stare at your husband in the middle of the night, and in the darkness wondering how on earth he could sleep with everything going on in your head.
My son also has ways to ensure I cope with the word embarrassment. The beauty of four year olds, is their inability to filter the inappropriate or coat a lie in white. He has told me numerous times that daddy’s boobies are bigger than mine. He doesn’t like when my legs grows grass and he is particularly fond of the rock I put on my head before I leave the house- the rock is known to me as my bun.
He is currently sitting on me pretending to read as I write. He is reading the story of Noah (that’s him) fighting the bad guy (that’s me) to get the golden treasure. Noah always wins, but the bad guy cleans the mess.
Yet every now and then, something truly amazing happens. He will say “ I really enjoyed my lunch today, mum. Especially my special surprise (sweet potato).” Or he will look at me and say, “ I love your shoes today mum, it goes well with your nose.”
I recently went back to work full time, after 5 years of part time. As many mums do, I questioned how this would affect my son. Would he be upset by the change in routine? Would I have enough time with him? Will he think I am never around?
Another worry to add to the list in the middle of the night…
Five weeks in and while mentally I am shattered from work, I feel incredibly fulfilled. My son has enjoyed the change in routine. He loves that his dad gets to pick him up from school sometimes. He loves that on Fridays him and I walk home together.
We created a fantasy world for ourselves. On Fridays, we have a mission to complete before we get to our front door. Last Friday, some trolls kidnapped an elf and we had to find the clues to rescue him. We found shapes, colors and objects that all led us to the elf in the end. He is now happy and at home with his family.
The half hour walk doesn’t seem like torture for us. Even in the cold and the rain. I can’t wait for next Friday. We get to help a wizard find his missing wand!
I tell myself, every morning as I walk to the bus stop in the dark. I am doing this job for my family. But even more so, for myself. My juggling act is a journey to ensure mental resilience. It is the constant chatter of my mind that keeps me sane.
I think a part of me will always feel embarrassed to say “I am a mum and I work fulltime.” It doesn’t seem to be the norm here. I get that. But the word embarrassment is slowly removing itself from my life and I am embracing it. I wish this for all mums. I wish this for everyone.
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