Yesterday I mentioned being tired as a mother of a 14 and 11 year old and the room of gorgeous women with their newborns looked as if I had just removed all hope from them. I quickly explained that it’s not the physical exhaustion of lack of sleep that makes me tired but the emotional exhaustion of being responsible for children, one of which who is entering early adulthood.
Jada Pinkett-Smith spoke about this recently, about the tough job of balancing being a mum and being YOU. My kids fulfil me and give me a sense of achievement that nothing else in my life has given me and the challenges don’t disappear they just change as they grow.
. The challenges I am currently facing as the mother of a 14-year-old take me back to the challenges I faced when she was first born. I’m not sure what to do at times, I feel out of my depth and I desperately wish there was a guidebook. So I have gone back to basics – not being irritated by her attitude/unsettledness but accepting it and realising that she is struggling to make sense of this world – just as she did when she was first born. I’ve stopped criticising and I have remembered to be kind, she is not reacting against me because she hates me but because she feels safe with me so there are more cuddles and conversations and less nagging. I hope I am doing the right thing, I hope that I am preparing her as best I can for the world, I interfere when I need to and I step back when I need to. Being responsible and looking out for the well-being of another person is knackering at times and, with a teenager, it can seem like there is little reward.
For me as a mother, my children are my main thought with any decision I make. My work has had to mould around them, their needs – where they need to be and who they will be with. When they were little I used to teach antenatal classes 4 nights a week and lots of weekends. That had to change as they grew because they needed me more in the evenings to talk through their day, to provide reassurance,to help with homework, to be a family. Someone had to stop rushing around and it had to be me.
So my emotional energy is spent raising my children – investing time, love and patience in them, worrying about them, feeling guilty for the things I get wrong and hoping I am doing a good enough job as mum. And of course I am also keeping track of their school life, their homework, their exams and their friendships, as well as their mental and physical well-being. As well as being a wife, friend and running a business.
The juggling is ongoing and I struggle if I drop one of the plates I am spinning because I want to do the best in all I do and I guess that’s why being a parent is tiring. But this is not a complaint, I am aware that time has past quickly and it won’t be long before my girls are off, to explore the world for themselves so I’ll take the knackeredness and the juggling and hope I’ve done the best I can and I’ll try to look after me too.