This is fascinating. My own experience of all this is of a vague sense of displacement, discouragement, sadness, disconnection. Hard to put a finger on. Then I meet someone – today, the young GP at the local medical practice who I’ve never met before, and may not meet again. And I feel better. We weren’t meant to be isolated from one another.
I’m not suffering trauma – illness, loss of work, serious financial stress – like so many are. But I’m suffering the loss of what was normal, predictable, finely balanced to keep me just on the right side of hopeful.
This short news segment is worth a listen. He studies burnout, and says in the current environment, women are particularly vulnerable, as they shoulder the majority of the burden of managing work and children at home. So if you are feeling a little overwhelmed, take heart: it is overwhelming and impossible to do well enough. Its ridiculous to expect to be able to supervise young children and be employed at work at the same time in the same space. Be kind to yourselves, conscientious mothers.
Mother’s Day is upon us again, and our families either struggle or rejoice in the business of celebrating us. It’s a sweet ritual, once you get past the fact that it can look like just another opportunity to sell us something.
But I’ve been thinking about our challenge, as mothers, to rejoice in ourselves. To be pleased with ourselves. Really. Deeply. Without criticism or recrimination. To know that we are enough.
I remember going into our Local Government Chambers to hire an infant baby carrier for the car (what a wonderful service, given that we only need the thing for a few months). My baby was still in my belly, soon to arrive. I was fresh to parenting, unharried, excited. Beside me was a mother returning the carrier that she had been using. She had a toddler in tow, and a baby – maybe nine months old, in a stroller.
She looked tired and harassed. Her attention was not on her children, but on interacting with the Customer Service Person. But I noticed her younger child. He had his gaze fixed firmly on her. And the look on his face told me that she was the centre of his universe. Simply, without anxiety, to him she was everything. His look said “Isn’t it wonderful? You are my Sun and my Moon!”
He was adoring, but more. For better or worse, she was his, they were connected. He knew that his mother was “enough”. She was busy, and I guess she knew, at some level, how important she was to him. But I doubt she stopped very often to really absorb it.
And if she did, I bet there was part of her that would not feel worthy.