Thursday, 16 July 2009
A Time for Every Season
I'm often amazed by the effect of uplifting company on my mood. Yesterday I was feeling a bit down and bored with the whole Stay-at-Home Mom routine. Morning time felt like wading through quicksand as I tried to eat my breakfast, read to J, and deal with his frustration when he couldn't get Eeyore to fit on top of the microwave.
Meeting up with a good friend and fellow mother later that afternoon, in the lovely Royal Pavilion Gardens, I caught some unexpected sunshine - both in the sky and in my mood. The key, for me, is honesty. I've met with fellow mom friends where that plain-speaking connection was absent, and gone away feeling even more alone. Susan Maushart's book The Mask of Motherhood discusses the phenomenon of mothers pretending everything is OK to each other, and therefore robbing themselves of the true support they could offer each other.
I'm not having any truck with that anymore. The ambivalence of motherhood, as well as tips and tricks on how to handle toddler tantrums, are the bread and butter of my conversations with my peers. Being a stay-at-home mom but feeling guilty for wishing you could get away sometimes. Or being a work-ouside-the-home mom and feeling guilty for being away so much.
One of the less-talked about things my friend and I discussed was the successive 'stages' of motherhood. How, now that we've got past the first year (and I'm nearly done with the second), it's hard to look back to that symbiotic, all-consuming early motherhood stage. Like once you are a teenager, you dissociate yourself from the things of childhood, not wanting to be reminded of that painful dependence.
Similarly, I find I'm gravitating more towards mothers of older children, those my son's age or older. Those who can show me the progression a little further down the line, and who are not still completely wrapped up in the newborn stage, where you live, eat, breathe and sleep baby. I'm also starting to do things such as plan poetry gigs, like my upcoming ones with my Writing Sisters Collective at Brighton Poetry Society on the 27th July, and the Out of The Ordinary Festival in September. You can listen to some of my performance poetry on my My Space page.
There's absolutely nothing wrong with the 'submersion' stage, and it's entirely appropriate at that stage. I was like that too. But now I'm starting to spread my wings and take moves towards re-establishing my own life. Today I visited the Brighton Buddhist Centre, had a chat about their programme of study and meditation and sat in their shrine room in much-needed silence; sat on the seafront and meditated looking at the sea; read a short story; went to the library; and now I'm procrastinating before getting down to some work on my short stories! All of these things rejuvenate me and bring me back to a sense of who I am, in parallel to J's increasing independence.
(Image courtesy of Brighton Buddhist Centre website)
- ▼ July (5)