In my last post I advocated for the practice of ethical hedonism and noted that mothers owed it to themselves and those around them to indulge just a little. Preferably, they should do this without guilt. You can read about my views on hedonism here.
In that post I referred to the “intense stage of mothering young dependant children” and how emerging from it was one of the factors that lead me to my current views on hedonism. In their comments to my post, my blogging buddies at Grown and Flown, also reinforced the importance of that emergence and by doing so gave me the idea for this blog post. Thank you ladies!
There is no doubt that emerging from that phase (which I will call the Emergence in this post) was a game changer for me, although I never realised it at the time.
Like most new mothers I really had no idea going in just how intense mothering young children would be. Up until the point of the birth of my first child, I never had the opportunity to be around young children and certainly didn’t seek them out. However, the motion picture of my life in my head always included children and so it came to pass. Within a month of deciding to fall pregnant I fell well and truly down the mothering rabbit hole and came across all manner of interesting tea party guests and situations that I had never before encountered.
I remember the very early days, sleep deprived and racked with guilt about not breast-feeding, feeling totally inadequate amongst the mess that was my house. I remember how I latched onto every progressive variation to baby routine like a starving woman and recounted to the Italian Stallion how the high point in my day was baby graduating from 60 mls of formula for every feed to 90 mls. Then there were the toddler years, when baby was all ability, no common sense and when one’s watching and listening skills are honed to perfection. Then it was onto the daycare and school years where your life became a dance to the starting and finishing times of these fine institutions.
Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of great times too and the rewards of parenting are some of the finest in life. I wouldn’t change the rhythm of my life for anything. However the above is the reality of mothering young children and it’s more than permissible to admit that it is hard work and that some days are just about survival.
“What did you do today, dear?”
“We survived with all body parts intact. World peace will just have to wait until tomorrow”
However, little did I know that the focus I put into parenting my young children, whilst pursuing a high-powered career and being a wife and daughter came with a cost. After all, everything you do is worth doing to the best of your abilities, right? Naturally, you want the very best for your children, and you think that the very best is giving yourself completely and utterly over to the task. At least I did.
At the point of Emergence I felt rather pleased about some of the time I had regained. Time back for myself to do the little things I had put on the back burner for the past fifteen years. A few months after Emergence I was still trying to remember what those little things were and finally discovered the cost of all my “doing”. In putting my needs last and feeling guilty about indulging in a little daily hedonism during those years I had unknowingly eroded my most important relationship, namely with myself.
The human race is fond of labelling. We tend to spend a lot of time and effort pursuing high status labels. I knew I was a wife, mother, career woman and daughter. But beyond that? Who was I and who did I want to be? It’s only by answering these questions, that we are to find the path forward.
This is not to say I lay the blame solely at the feet of mothering. My Emergence was a real point of convergence – where Emergence meets middle age, meets searching for a more meaningful existence, meets career questioning. Everyone’s life path is different and points of convergence will vary.
I have a sense that finding the answers will take some time. Much like weight loss – most of us gain weight through years of bad habits and then expect overnight miracles from our diets. It just isn’t going to happen. And there will be interruptions and glitches along the way.
So that’s why I advocate balance and a little measured pleasure. It helps you remain connected with who you are and your aspirations. I really hope that anyone involved with the concerns of others can take something away from today’s post. Giving yourself over to the cause is important, but remember YOU are a worthy cause as well.
So hello world, I’m just Judy and I like exploring but dislike labels. I also happen to be a mother, wife and daughter, an occasional humourist and blogger.
I’d love to hear how you describe yourself by taking it back to the most basic, without labels in the comment section below. Help us to get to know you.