Right now in London, it’s hard being a mother. Not because of the hard, continual work it entails – humans are good at labouring. And really the work we put in is not the same as that done by previous generations of mothers – hand washing clothes on rocks, waking men up from their naps so they can go and chase lions.
No – it’s tough in a totally mind-fucking way. Our generation of mothers are being constantly attacked by ideas on mothering. I wouldn’t mind if they weren’t all so sure of themselves and yet completely contradictory. Don’t let your children eat sugar! Let your children eat all the sugar they want so they learn natural balance! Don’t let your kids play computer games, they warp their brain! Let your kids play more computer games to prepare them for the new world of work!
There is probably truth and logic in every theory that comes out. But you know what – I am calling them all out as bullshit. They are all wrong. And you know why? Because they induce fear and anxiety and stress. They inflame many women’s natural tendencies to want to be perfect, to do it completely and utterly right. But you know what is worse than doing it all ‘wrong’ as a mother? Being stressed.
You know how I know this? My son told me. In fact he reminds me often.
Don’t use that stressed voice with me mum, I can’t bear it! He will shriek as little tears spring from his eyes when I have wound myself up into a lather of anxiety.
It’s terrifying when your children gets to an age when they can articulate everything you are doing wrong. And the child I birthed ten years ago is extremely articulate at identifying the intricacies of my inadequacies.
But really thank god he is because he is making me a better parent.
I have realised that I have spent too long in the sway of the tyranny of ‘ideas about parenting’ (we need more wooden toys! ) and not enough time in the beauty and joy and wonder of it.
After much thinking and analysing the different ways of parenting – I truly believe that the most positive thing you can give you child as a parent is your joy. By being joyful you transmute by osmosis joy to them. How you feel about life deep inside is often how they end up feeling about life. (Proof: I’m scared of geese, guess what, both of my children are scared of geese)
And for me joy is the one skill that will take take them through life with the best possible chance of making great choices and being happy.
So – I am going to stop analysing my decisions about sugar, play, school, computers etc. based on some theory or other. And I am going to do whatever makes sense to me and feels joyful. I really believe that making a point of killing stress and awakening joy is more important than ANY choice you could make about if they should watch TV or not, if they should have a Barbie or not. Your inner feelings about life, your way of handling life, how you relate to life is way more impactful than these decisions.
I would encourage you to ignore what everyone else is doing (including me) and just listen to what your heart, your child and your intuition tell you. Because when your choices flow from a place of joy and happiness – rather than stress or fear that you’re doing it wrong or because there is only one way to do it right – they will create so much more positivity in your household.
There is no one right way. No-one has the key. Every way is valid when done with joy.
I no longer care what theories are prevailing in the current climate of parenting. My aim is to be a good-enough mother, not a perfect mother. When my son and daughter are adults and talking about their childhood, I want them to say – wow my mum was rather messy and disorganised, but boy was she happy. She really loved life.
So I am going to chase joy like it’s Ryan Gosling walking down my street in small shorts. I am reminding myself daily to infect my house with joy – and prioritise it over everything. Literally everything.
And it’s starting to work. Yesterday my son said:
Mum, you’re doing so much better! You are so much less crazy now. Well done!
High praise indeed.