Yesterday wasn’t a great day. As always, after my husband has been away with work, we were all looking forward to seeing him and, as always, his return was followed by the usual problems. The kids actually behave much better for just one of us, bickering constantly when we are both parenting together. Weekends are looked forward to but can actually be a lot harder than week days.
Husband was tired and grumpy after a week of little sleep, I was resentful of the fact that I’d been looking after the kids all week and that he didn’t sweep in and take them off my hands. Unrealistic expectations all round led to a house full of grumpy, bad-tempered people. And if the kids weren’t grumpy before, they certainly were after they picked up on our moods.
So, it was back to the usual Saturday routine. Swimming, fighting over lunch, wondering how to keep the kids entertained, snapping at each other and being generally foul tempered. Welcome home!
These work trips of his often set me off feeling jealous, wanting some time out myself. Yes, I know he was working and it doesn’t sound like it was wall-to-wall fun but even so, the idea of spending five days away, discussing grown-up things without any small people hanging off me, sounds like bliss on a stick.
I work two days a week, which saves me from total madness – I’m not built to be a stay-at-home Mum. But, much as I love the charity I work for, the pay-off of having a part-time job you can fit around your family is often that it is less than fulfilling and a significant step down from your pre-kids career. I’m not complaining about that – it is my choice after all and I love being able to step away from the laptop at the end of the day without looking back – but it doesn’t challenge me or fulfil my creative urges in the same way that my husband’s job does for him.
But my grump isn’t really about work. I wouldn’t change my job for the world – the pros are far too numerous and many Mums would kill to take my place. It isn’t even about a week away, although God knows that would be amazing.
I am in a funk over something much more non-specific, something far less tangible. I am missing a piece. I have been for years (7.5 years to be precise) and I have yet to work out how to get it back. I am incredibly lucky to have my brood, my husband, my job, my happy and comfortable life. But with all that abundance of luck comes a sacrifice which sometimes seems entirely insignificant and sometimes feels like a gaping hole in my middle.
I am a creative type deep down. Right now, it is very deep down, but there is a little spark buried there. I used to act as a kid and I never felt more alive. I love to sing. I drive my kids (and probably the neighbours) crazy belting out songs on the radio. I’ve even dipped in and out of making jewellery over the years. This blog has made me realise that there is a bit of a writer in there too. Writing my thoughts here fires that little spark and keeps it ticking over. Being creative is a sure fire way of making your own happiness, of not allowing the moods of other, especially your immediate family, to dictate that happiness. Going out and grabbing some fulfilment for yourself.
I’m not talking about making a career out of being creative. I well and truly missed that boat, and it is one I am very happy to have missed. A life of living in a hovel ‘for my art’ doesn’t appeal. It is just about having an outlet. My creative outlets are so limited these days and, with not enough hours in the day as it is, that isn’t likely to change any time soon.
I am a Mother, an enabler of others. My primary role is to care, encourage and build my three little people. And I wholeheartedly embrace that. But maybe my own wonderful Mother did too good a job at enabling me, at the expense of her own creativity. Because when that sacrifice has to be made, on the day your first baby is born, it is that much harder to transition if you have been made to be a creative and free spirit.
I don’t feel much like a creative free spirit these days. In fact, that phrase is pretty laughable when you look at my day to day life. Just taking time to be myself is a luxury. Hell, even sitting down to have a cuppa without at least one small kid clambering all over me, driving trains up and down me and asking constant questions is almost impossible. To him, I am a carrier, a provider, a comfy cushion. I am the font of all knowledge, to answer his endless questions. I am whatever he needs me to be. “Mummy is a track” he says, as Thomas chugs up my legs and across my squishy post-baby tummy.
Yes, Mummy is all those things, my love. And I always will be (although I hope the track phase might end in the not too distant future). But Mummy is also lots of other things, some of which now hide in the pit of her stomach, biding their time, ever hopeful that they can emerge again one day. You don’t need to know about that now, but one day I hope you will see it and that it will fire your own creativity.
Sometimes I get angry and I don’t know why. And then I remember why and mope for a while. Have you ever tried moping with three kids demanding attention? It is very unsatisfactory, as moping goes. So, I give up on that eventually and remind myself how lucky I am.
My role these days is Mum. I hope I’m playing it well enough. For now, that will have to do.
Even if I sometimes forget who I am, under this pile of kids, I still know that I am incredibly lucky.