How has it already been 2 months since I have written anything? And the last photo I put of Nestor is while he still looked a tiny bit like me hair wise, before the curls attacked? Wow. I am woefully behind. I could start with the usual excuses, things have been hectic, the kids are running wild, work is busy, the spring is finally here so we’ve been out more etc. But the real reason for my radio silence is most likely that I have all sorts of thoughts and things running through my head and writing anything coherent does not seem likely to happen. So I’ve been waiting to have it all worked out nicely and then come out and say “ta-da!” As you have probably guessed by the coherence level so far – no, I don’t have it figured out but I am still going to write about it. The reason is simple – this is a blog about and for my children and chances are that one day they will also be at a crossroad of sorts and perhaps find comfort in reading that their mother went through something similar and came out of it stronger (hopefully!)
So, since I don’t have it figured out at all, I am not going to try and make a nice story out of it. I am going to write what I feel and know right now. There will probably be no grand conclusion and self- revelation in the end. And because it is not a story but a collection of not necessarily connected bits and pieces I will write in much despised bullets. Works well for scientific articles, or so my boss says.
Disclaimer: What I am going to ramble on has somewhat to do with parenting choices, which I have learnt is the quickest way to get yourself flamed, no matter what you write. I certainly do not want to add to the infamous “mommy wars”, which by the way is the biggest waste of time and energy of already sleep deprived people and quite frankly makes me sad but that is a totally different story. This is purely about my beliefs and their questioning, my family and my choices. It is very selfish really. So if I say something that sounds judgmental/offensive/plain mean, that is really not my intention at all. I am pretty sure that none of my 4.5 readers (kumo, you back for good? :)) will interpret it any other way than my own self-exploration, but one never knows, the internets are funny, someone might stumble upon this blog googling south african passport cover/gemsbok/sucking toes (my blog stats don’t lie!) and I would not want to offend them.
- I have written a little and talked a lot about the effect that motherhood has had on me. To say that it is big, huge, ginormous is simply an understatement. Motherhood has thrown my balance with the world so off that five years down the road I am still shell shocked. Yes, I am that slow.
- While I was growing up my mum worked outside the home. So did the other women in my family and the mothers of all my friends. The society was set up that way, I suppose it had to do both with economic necessity and newly found and embraced independence. And our grandmothers urged us to hold on to this independence. My mum was a social worker and actively involved in politics and kicked ass in both. It never occurred to me that working could stand in the way of being a good mother. So you can imagine that it was quite a bit of a cultural shock to me when I got pregnant with Una and found myself interrogated about my choice to continue working. No one asked my husband. He was quite surprised that it upset me knowing that I never really cared about what random people think about me. And I did not care what they thought of me, I did care about what my children will think one day, having grown up in such an environment.
- I now do for a living what I have always thought I wanted to do. I do not remember wanting to be a ballerina or a princess. My childhood heroine was Marie Curie, I must have read her biography a million times and romanticized that is how I wanted to live one day when I grew up. Minus the side-effect of the radium discovery of course. But pushing through even when she was hungry and poor, what an inspiration. Besides, I looove cherries, so living off of cherries because there was nothing else to it didn’t sound like a bad deal to me. Instead of chemistry, I fell in love with mathematics which later became engineering as I realised that while I perhaps could live off of cherries, this may not be the best choice for the children I one day may have. And I come from the folk who measures one’s life success in the ability to love and feed your children.
- We live in a country that is sort of a work-life balance utopia. I have written about this before. I am not sure there are many places in the world where one can have an academic position and work part time. And this is just one aspect of it. What I like even more is that while mothers are traditionally part-timers here, there are more and more young fathers who are making use of this privilege. Mark is one of them.
- So the situation we have going on is pretty much what I would consider ideal. Realistically, at least. (Of course we complain about the budget cuts, the bosses, the pay. You know what they say about the Dutch, if they are not complaining they are sick. We are healthy and have red passports so there you go.)
- However, lately I have been feeling less than ideal when it comes to this wonderful balance we have going on. I have been struggling with motivation at work (long term, the purpose and the rest of it) which reflects in the output which then brings on the infamous “I am not good enough” which then makes me question whether it all is worth being away from my children which kills the motivation and the circle is closed. This is the softened version of it. You may wonder why this is only hitting me now, given that my first child is almost five years old. I should have it figured out by now, right? I don’t know, maybe it is exactly that, seeing how fast it all goes and how the time with them is not as infinite as you may think in the long sleepless nights with a newborn. Maybe it is some internal change in the direction of ambitions. And maybe I am just really that slow :).
- Even if me not working was an option financially, there are other issues I have a problem with. I have a daughter whom I will tell that she can be whatever she wants to be. But, as eloquently described here, I don’t think that is enough. She has to see examples. If one day she shows an affinity towards something that may take her onto a path of a demanding profession, a mother who quit can cheer on as much as she wants, the message is not nearly as strong. And what would I tell my son? That he can become whatever he wants too? As long as that whatever is enough to support his ambitious wife who one day wakes up and realises that she can’t do it all, after all. And what I would tell my husband, you know that day a week you had alone with your children, those Fridays you took your daughter swimming and took walks with your son and bought fish for lunch, remember those? Well, they are gone because I am taking them! Bullying at its finest, no?
- Of course all this sounds very black and white but that is because I am trying to make it more so for myself, greyness if fine but can make you forget who you are in all the allowed shades of grey. I need to do some soul searching on who I am now.
- And while I am doing so I will be laying low on social media and social networking for a while. I have all sorts of voices running through my head (not that kind of voices, don’t worry :)) and need to make sure I know where they are coming from. I will still follow a couple of my favourite blogs that make me smile, think, not feel alone, nostalgic, inspired, a bit more zen.
And because there is no way you made it through this longest post in the history of posts, something to make your click worthwhile.