Looking at the image above I’m almost flinching in the knowledge that it will be at least a decade till I’ll read a newspaper with a coffee in my hand without being interrupted by one of my three kids asking for something (FFS!).
Though I humbly and deeply appreciate it’s a huge blessing to be in this position, with a healthy family flourishing around me, it’s simultaneously the most challenging role of my life so far. It’s a role I earnestly try to fulfil exceptionally well: ‘try’ being the operative word a lot of the time. That is, I usually make a huge effort yet experience mixed results.
As you will likely know if you’ve been reading this blog for a while, I’m not a big fan of the way that success is defined by the mainstream media or in fact by most of us. It is high time we recognise that success is a measure best left to us to individually define for ourselves.
I heartily resent the idea, for example, that a woman who is battling severe post-natal depression isn’t winning the day if she makes it through without considering suicide. For some, that truly is a massive achievement. Forget work. Forget competitive sports. Let’s just look at personal bests in a real way here.
If you’re a fan of self-development and productivity (like me), you will know this scenario. You read an article about the best morning routine saying how “…if you win the first hour of the day then you have won the day”. This is the no-fail road to success they say. This is how you win at life, they say.
It is assumed that with your spare hour or three you wake up, meditate for 20-30 minutes, write in a journal for another half hour, do some yoga or go for a run, then create and slowly enjoy the perfect breakfast. Some of the leading experts on this topic even talk about doing all this before ‘engaging’ with their wife and kids, or before speaking at all.
Can you imagine that? Erm no, me neither.
Here’s where it gets personal. For the past year or so my husband has worked hours away from home. He is rarely here for breakfast during the week so naturally, I hold the fort as the (albeit very willing) stay at home mum that I am.
It is very difficult to convey to him what it’s like to get three kids out the door every morning on my own without sounding whiny and whingey: admittedly not my favourite look. It is also challenging to put into words what it feels like to have had years now of needing to literally ask permission if I’d like to go out on my own.
On a scale of ‘I’m screwed’ to ‘I’m doing great thanks’, admittedly things are pretty good. I have a husband, he loves his kids, he loves me and he’s working to support us financially (and it wasn’t always that way – I was a single parent for 7 years prior to meeting him). I don’t take any of that lightly. It’s amazing, right?
STILL though, that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to be entirely and lovingly beholden to this family. That doesn’t mean that I don’t miss my days of independent, freewheeling singledom. I mean, don’t we all just a bit?
So right there is the conundrum. I have to feel like it’s ok to say I’m struggling with putting myself aside every day in order to really be there for my kids, and I also have to be able to call it when some serious self-care is needed, or the black dog will be there nipping at my heels. But how do you tell a one-year-old, hey dude, I really just need a sit down with a coffee and a newspaper for more than two minutes?
So for me, getting up an hour earlier than my kids to do yoga and have some quiet time is impossible right now. It’s not that I’m lazy, nor am I undisciplined. I’ve made choices to breastfeed in the night if and when it’s needed, to honour that attachment to my baby is what he needs right now. It’s REALLY HARD, but it still feels right. And one thing I know is that my intuition is right, even if a lot of other people don’t get it.
So for now, you productivity experts and success gurus can get stuffed. I don’t want to spend the first hour of the day not talking to my kids. I want to sleep as long as I can and then wake up with them, even if it means I’m a bit less supple, not perfectly coiffed or up on the latest news. For me, my kids and their wellbeing are paramount and I will work out how to balance my needs with theirs throughout the day, not in one big push every morning.
My time will come.
It’s either that, or I’m getting myself a wife tomorrow.