Monday, 23 May 2011

Step 3: New Terms and Conditions

About 10 years ago I was told that having kids made you realise how selfish you were. Back then I thought, "That would be great! I would love to learn to be selfless and pour my life into something so honourable!" Now I'm in it, it's not so appealing. "Can we just agree on some terms and conditions?" I said to my 5 month old this morning. I want a full night's sleep, I want a 2 hour lunch break and I want evenings off after 7. Is that really so selfish? To only want to work 10 hours a day, 7 days a week?

I'm amazed, when I put it like that, just how much "parent guilt" one can hold on one's shoulders. "I can't put my 3 year old in Daycare, I'm a stay-at-home mum," "I can't miss that thing that starts at 8pm, everyone will be there!"  "I can't put the TV on while I fold washing in order to avoid my 3 yr old 'helping'." "I can't sit down and have a cuppa and write about myself in the middle of the day!"

Early this year, I pushed past the 'critical parent voice' (yes, I've been to a psychologist!) and bought myself a Kindle (an e-book reader) with some Christmas money ("How can you spend money on a Kindle when there's all these books on the shelf you haven't read??") I justified it to my scoffing self because I was breastfeeding, and it's too hard to turn pages when you're holding a baby. ("what do you think your mother did?") Shut up! I told myself! And pressed "Buy". Anyway, that was a long was of saying that since then I've caught up on a whole lot of classics which never interested me when I supposed to read them at school. Did you know that Anna Karenina had a wet nurse AND a nanny! Apparently back then, it was considered 2 jobs! And a cook, and maids, and a driver, etc, etc. Even the poor widowed and fatherless Dashwoods had hired staff, while they sat around with not much money, but a whole heap of time to sew, walk and gossip. Their place in the world was defined by how much they did, or didn't, do. And, it appears, so is mine. I justify daycare day by telling myself I'll sew dresses and sell them online. "Oh no, Jodi. Can't have a day off! Can't just sew because you enjoy it!" I stack the dishwasher while I'm talking on the phone with one hand and jiggling a grumpy baby in the other, because I can't just sit and chat. I feel guilty about home delivered groceries, tinned baby food, and disposable nappies. No wonder I don't like my life!

A friend told me last week that parenting has been in incredibly humbling experience for her. She doesn't meet up to half her expectations, does things she said she never would and is learning to be okay with it. I appreciated this reflection more than the first I heard 10 years ago. So I have decided set these terms and conditions with myself:
-You can do things because you want to and choose not to do things because you don't want to.
-You can choose to do things you don't want to do and miss out on things you wanted. (Because you'll be ok.)
-You can sew something for yourself or for a friend even though it won't make money back on those extravagant fabric purchases. You do not need to make money from something to validate your enjoyment of it.
-You can eat leftover mince for dinner 3 nights in a row.
-You can make use of various services because they are there to make life easier, which is no longer a crime (home delivery, daycare, babysitting, husband willing to make coffee).
-You can be proud of your achievements and not belittle them.

In other news, Tully was getting up from the potty, pulling his undies and pants up this morning and I sighed at him, "Oh Tully! You're such a big boy now! Where did my little baby go?"
He rolled his eyes at me, "Oh Mum! She's in the bedroom, sleeping!"

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jodi. Your good friend Fiona McKay has recommended I follow your blog and I'm glad I've looked you up. Can really relate to what you say. Very refreshing to hear someone up front and honest about sharing their life, warts and all, but at the same time being honest enough to admit it takes a bit of brand management too! Not every day's a good one. (Still unsure of where you find the time to sew though... when baby sleeps? My 5 month old boy is pretty full time, then after 1pm, I run around after the other two as well. But I don't want to 'admit defeat' and make excuses. So watch this space...!)


I so love your comments! I read all of them and reply when I can. If you don't hear back, I'm lost under a mound of scraps or outside jumping on the trampoline with the kids. Jodi. xx