One of the things I’ve had to come to terms with, growing gradually older, has been my limitedness.
‘Can we have it all?’
That’s something feminists have sometimes talked about. Women can have it all. When someone like me sees someone like the beautiful Clare Bowditch who can go on a tour with 1 year old twins at home, it blows my mind. She admits it herself, that her and hubby co-parent, freeing her to do some much. Many seasoned feminists are beginning to say that women can indeed ‘have it all’ but not all at the once.
That is reassuring news for someone like myself, who does not have a co-parenting relationship going on and who doesn’t put her children into childcare (both for financial reasons and also because I just prefer to look after my own children – I couldn’t bear to be apart from them, and we do get by…just, and even did so while Henry was a full-time student for two years).
The thing is, I do still have ambitions, too many I think sometimes, and there are days, like today, where I feel them all churning around inside of me, itching to get out. That book I am yearning to write! The music I want to create. The languages I want to learn. The things I want to make, and most, most importantly the thoughts I ache to think. The thoughts that are there, so unvarnished and rough that need so much more turning over to become those polished gems that I know they are.
And then, while these things flit, tantalisingly, through my mind Sophia will cry “I need to go to toilet! I need to go to toilet!” or Gunther will come and sook all over me “I’m hungwee! What can I have to eeeat? I want coornflaakes…!?” And my thoughts are reluctantly pulled toward the reality of the present. “No, you can’t have cornflakes. You have to eat something healthy!” “Noooo! I just want cooornflaaakes! Ooohhh sob, sob, sob.” “Okay, give me a minute. I have to take your sister to the loo then we’ll talk about it!”
And so I am called from all these lofty aspirations to care for two little human souls and bodies, wipe their bottoms, blow their noses, brush their hair (occasionally), wash their faces, bathe them, mitigate their fights, feed their tummies, read them stories, teach them to read and write (which is rather rewarding!), hug them, kiss them, tell them I love them and just be there for them. Day in day out and on through the night.
I struggle because I hear of mums who manage to write between naps, once the kids are in bed or who get solid chunks of babysitting relief, but I don’t have that. I have one very high-energy child who literally plays til she drops, and even when she is lying in her bed wriggles and sings and grabs and chats and hops up and down and no amount of ‘training’ has ever stopped any of these behaviours. So by the time she finally does drop off, mid play, I am about ready to fall off my own perch myself!
And I think then that sometimes it is okay to leave the ambitions til another day. I intend to live to 112 and so I have many years ahead. My kids will grow up, they will slowly begin to look after themselves and while those days creep up on us I will slowly add things to my pile of ‘things-to-do-in-the-future’ and ever so much more slowly will begin to take them off. And meanwhile I will do what I can now. I can still play piano and I can teach the kids how to play. I can continue to slowly learn French, and do that with the kids too. I can still build a bus with my husband. And I can still perhaps crochet a rug. I can continue to enjoy story-time with the children and just pray and hope the language consumed will in turn have a good effect on my writing. I can keep blogging!
But I shouldn’t attempt to do everything right here and now because if I focus on my ambitions I will miss out on the beauty of the moment and there are lots of those, every day. I just need to look beyond the trips to the toilet, or even the missed trips to the toilet.
And the grand reality is that, as a parent, you matter ever so much to these one or two or three little individuals and your interest and investment in their lives is paramount to their current and future happiness and self-actualisation, and to me this is too vital to pass up and shrug off.
Though it’s hard sometimes and the desires still itch away.