Friday, December 9, 2016

my inner toddler mother




Hello!
How are you?
How's your week been?

We're finishing off the school year and really starting the growing season here at Foxs Lane. Endings and beginnings. Everything and everyone is growing up and moving along.

But in amongst all of this progress, I've been looking backwards a lot too. I've been thinking about mothers of little, tiny kids. Mothers who are so consumed by their children's welfare that they often neglect their own. Probably the mother that I was when I started this blog way back then.




You know that woman standing in the doorway of the cafe you're sitting in. Her hair is in a messy pony tail trying to hide the fact that she hasn't washed it in days, and her clothes look like she's grabbed them off a pile next to her bed. In one hand she carries a bag filled with healthy snacks, books and other things to keep her children entertained and fed and cleaned. Whilst the other is filled with the hands of her little children, constantly pulling her forward and sideways and then back. She looks tired, and overloaded, and consumed with their details. Her children on the other hand are dressed immaculately. They are colourful, and clean, and cute. And they chatter and sing while they look for a place to sit. And she directs them, and organises them, and doesn't sit until they are all settled. This cafe visit is just the start of a day that will be filled with swimming lessons, and library visits, and time at the park on the swings.

Thinking about that woman makes me feel sad.

Partly because I was her for so many years. Mostly I really loved being her, being the centre of their universe and hanging out all day with those funny little beings. Anything could be made into a fun activity: from the cooking, to the laundry, to the checking things off a shopping list. But I also remember sometimes feeling so relieved to be able to stand (hide) behind my kids, for them to take the spotlight and the lead, while my baby brain and I stood back and waited.

I was that mother for so many years that the man at the post office once told me that he didn't recognise me because I was alone, that he hadn't really seen me before, when he actually saw me most days of the week.




And partly thinking about that mum makes me sad because I am still her. Well not literally, but feelingly.

Although my youngest baby is nine and all three of my girls go to school full time and are in some ways extremely independent, I still feel like the toddler mother fussing along behind them, fixing the details and putting them first. I'm a stay-at-home mum and a work-from-home mum. That's what I do. And I think that that's been okay til now. But for some reason I need more now. I need something bigger. I need something that is mine.

I've asked a lot of people in my world about the toddler mother thing lately, and have been interested to find that nine seems to be the magic age when mothers feel like their selfless time is up. Mothers of nine-year-olds go back to work, and study, and add titles to their bios like writer and editor and designer.



I'm not sure what any of this means, but I do feel less alone in my need to escape my chrysalis and spread my wings.

I am not even close to the woman, (girl ?) I was before I had babies, and the woman who I've become since then has evolved over time, but I want more than that now. I want to be able to dig deep and ask myself what I love doing. Not what I love doing with my family, or for my family, but what feeds my soul. Mine. I want to strip back the feelings of obligation and habit and safety and see what's underneath. I want to make some changes and put myself out there and see what I get back.

And I want to box up my whole wardrobe of mum clothes: the easy-breast-feeding, the fit-a-pregnant-belly, the what-was-I-thinking, the loose-to-cover-all, and the plunging necklines, and I want to start again. (Ethical, sustainable, organic clothing brands recommendations please?)



That internal mean-girl voice is screaming at me - First world problems! Who cares? Close your computer and go and do something useful!

And I will. Because for now the voice that calls me the strongest is the voice of my garden. Plunging my hands deep into the soil, digging a hole to plant a seed, watching and watering and harvesting, that is my happy place. That is where I find my peace.

But there will be something more in my future. My mind is open to thoughts of study, to work in other fields, and to changing things up a bit around here and maybe branching out into something new.

I'm putting it out there universe, I wonder what you've got for me.




Big love
xxxxx








32 comments:

  1. I am in the throws of that which you speak. I want to say Kill me now and how lucky am I at the same time. You know how it is. I love this mothering gig. I have found myself and lost myself at the same time. Nine seems like a world away... But of course it will be here before I'm ready. Looking forward to seeing where the universe leads you... X

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 'I have found myself and lost myself at the same time'
      Perfect! I wish I would have thought of it myself. xx

      Delete
  2. Kate,
    Soo get what you're chatting about. Going to throw another thought into the mix, not sure of your age, but are you in your late 30s, early to mid 40s? Cause I think that's a huge part of it too, not just your youngest child's age. Adding that because my youngest is not 9, I've continued having babies, my youngest is 2 but I went through these thoughts around 40 (44 now). "Who am I?" The inner me, not just the wife, mother, homeschooler etc. Perhaps it was that some of my children began leaving home and the reality hit me that one day they all would (like still years from now ;-) but in essence there has to be more to me than my titles. That was when I embraced being creative, for me photography, other interests. I gave myself permission for 'me time' which until then I'd sneakingly thought was maybe selfish but now I realise it's imperative. Oh the things I want to tell my younger self, what I'd do differently.
    Encouraging and supporting you as you rediscover the inner you, exciting time xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree about the age thing. My 40's have been so much about me and discovering who I am now and how to come out from behind the kids and shine for myself. It's a work in progress and I'm not finding it easy.

      cheers Kate

      Delete
    2. Kate
      Encouraging you, the further I've got into my 40s though the more stronger I've become. I'm much more confident and don't really care about what others think anymore. It's rather an empowering decade as you move past the inital angst, it actually becomes rather exciting. xx

      Delete
  3. Lol, get outta my head Kate. You described me as the mum in the café, sigh...yes. If people see me without my kids they don't really have anything to say to me except 'where are the kids'. Joe is turning 6 next week and so that means I've been scrambling at this mothering gig for 6 years and still don't know if I do it right. I see other mums at school pick-up, they are all dressed nicely as they head off to their paying jobs... and here I am in my scuffed shoes with dirt under my fingernails and sewing threads on my clothes. I've become a shadow to what I used to be like before I had kids but truthfully, I don't mind. I never want to go back and am happy to struggle on ... (well today I am, tomorrow might be different!)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sheesh I though I looked OK at a cafe. Turns out I was fooling no-one. My kids are almost 2 and 4 and I've been a working mum and a stay at home mum. Hearing that that I may still be struggling with this stuff when they're nine is depressing! ��

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great post which will echo the feelings of a lot of your followers. My big girl is nine and I have found a happy place that is work for 3 days, 1 day where I service everybody else and then 1 whole day to myself to do whatever I please. I feel very lucky to have found the right balance. Jo x

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Oh sooo much to think about and options to consider.
    I saw some truly beautiful clothes when in Tasmania early this year "The Maker" is the name on the card I have, please take a look.
    Your love of gardening seems to be important to you ....would you like to study horticulture, it may even be tax deductible considering your farm business. Something creative has endless possibilities, handmade books, gourmet food, knitwear design, tiny house design, accountancy, quilt making, simple Linen apron design and making.decisions, decisions

    ReplyDelete
  8. I so needed to read this today! My youngest is 9 too. You really described it perfectly. I'm looking at a change of career. Maybe the universe could peep my way too. Ah thank you for sharing. Including all the green growing plants. It's winter here, so only flicking through seed catalogues.

    ReplyDelete
  9. First of all you will always be a mum and that job description is a catch all for carer, cook, cleaner, teacher, doctor, provider, confidante, party planner, chauffeur, banker, crisis solver, feeder, dresser and flying teacher. So now it may be time for you to spread your own wings. Doesn't stop you feeling guilty though but that means that you took your job seriously.

    ReplyDelete
  10. i'm almost 64 and am still looking for that next thing to learn, to accomplish, to spread my wings toward. i truly believe that the happiest, most fulfilled people are those who spend a lifetime doing exactly what you are doing -- opening themselves up to change and asking the universe for hints. grateful you are blogging again as i so enjoy reading your thought-provoking words. looking forward to seeing you continue to evolve. best wishes

    ReplyDelete
  11. I am at the same phase (but my youngest is just 5 and only started school this year). I am trying to figure out what is next for me and it is exciting but scary. Can't wait to follow your journey.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yep--this resonates deeply with me. I resumed my IT project management career when my oldest was 9, mostly out of financial need but also because of that pull towards something that would challenge me in new ways personally. My oldest is now 15 and I have almost fully returned to observing all of my pre-kid grooming rituals!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Spread your wings and fly...and roost. And fly again!

    ReplyDelete
  14. The next chapter will be every bit as good as the last ones, Kate. Off you go to create something new again. x

    ReplyDelete
  15. I thought teaching young children was what I would do with myself to be useful beyond the toddler mom stage, that that would be fulfilling and useful and feed my soul. On many levels it is and does, but I am recognizing a more core need, a selfish need perhaps, that is still unfilled. So I am looking at it, wondering at it, and asking what it is! Yes, it is all good and not a bad challenge to have, but I still see it there and wish to figure it out. I suspect that this is part of a cycle of growth... ✨✨✨

    ReplyDelete
  16. A beautiful, honest post Kate. I understand. I think the universe has many wonderful things in the future for you. As far as clothing suggestions...have you seen Doops Designs online and on Insta? I have one of their t-shirts and love it. I am looking towards another purchase soon. x

    ReplyDelete
  17. Dear Kate,

    I can empathise with your feelings. It is easy to lose a sense of our own needs and who we are as individuals when we are part of a bigger team and busy serving the needs of others.

    It looks like you have not only planted a seed in your garden today but also one in your heart. To nurture your soul, your spirit. Like garden seeds, there will always be a time to wait before the green shoots emerge to show us what the plant will become. You have 'put the word out there' that you are ready for something new. While you are waiting to see what 'shoots', make sure you purposely give yourself free time and space everyday just for you to rest, contemplate, do whatever you like or just do nothing! Aha! When you are not distracted by the minutiae of every day 'mum-stuff' you might see that shooting star in the corner of your eye... begging you to chase it!

    Good luck! Wishing you all the best for Christmas and perhaps you will have some New Year's resolutions for 2017? ;-) I've loved reading your blog and enjoying your photos this year. Thank you for your time and energy taken to share it in the blogosphere. xx


    ReplyDelete
  18. I hear you. My youngest turns 9 next week and I feel like I'm at the precipice but I don't know what's over the edge.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Oh Kate, what a timely and thought provoking post. I'm here alone for the first time in 'forever!!' and felt a deep-down prompting to read your blog. Not wanting to get out a computer and spoil my blissful time alone I didn't, but the thought wouldn't leave me. Finally I gave in to my inner leading and my goodness, I still can't believe what I've just read. Thank you a million times over. You may never know just how much your words have meant to me tonight. You have articulated the scrambled thoughts of my head so succinctly.

    I trust that amazing things are on the precipice of your future. Spread your wings and fly you beautiful woman - with home and your precious family always as the grounding place to refesh and rejuvenate.

    And on the clothing note. I've spent the last 13 years sewing clothes for my children and they have always had almost completely handmade wardrobes but lately I've been sewing for myself. My 'Mum' wardrobe needed a serious update and the most sustainable way to do that was to sew for myself. And I'm having such fun deciding what I want to wear and then creating it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I am one of those mums but I am yearning for a personal change like looking nice and doing something for me. Just recently I've been scrambling to sort out my uni studies which I put on hold forever and apply for a job to coincide with my studies all at the worst of my auto immune disease. Why is the need to do this all now? I didn't know until you mentioned that the nine year old thing and that is how old my eldest is. Honestly I need to do something for me now or I will simply disappear.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I love this post,Kate,and although I am nowhere near this point, I can really imagine how you are feeling and sense that it could be both terrifying and exhilarting. I am about to plunge back into the baby and toddler years again with a fourth, but I think it will be slightly different this time, as the other 3 will all be in full-time education from next year. Those years were intense but I really loved them too. So many skills and strengths acquired to take into whatever you do next. Xxx

    ReplyDelete
  22. I can so relate, as most I imagine. Good luck with your journey to you.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Im the toddler mum :P I have a 2yr old and i look like crap most days haha but thats ok, im in the process of reimaging myself and getting a little back into a routine of brushing my hair. I think you should write another book but this time about foxslane. You have plenty of photos and content right here on the blog, a section on gardening, carving spoons, knitting, travel, schooling...

    ReplyDelete
  24. I have feeling on this post that I just cant articulate properly, which is weird for me because I'm a talker who spills all my thoughts. I don't know who I am anymore without my kids. With every child I've had over the last 17 years a bit of my old self has given way but I've also gained new pieces of me. If I step out without a child with me I don't feel whole but I often feel free because it RARELY happens. There are not many moments that are filled with kids, big & small, in my days & for the most part I'm OK with that but when my husband asked me the other day if I've thought about what I want to do when our youngest starts school in a few years I was completely lost. I feel too old to be starting again on some kind of work path & I wonder if I even have anything to offer? But as each year passes new parts of myself appear as old ones disappear so hopefully I'll figure out it all out.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Kate. I can so relate to this. I'm 38 and I had a couple of surprise little ones. So my youngest is only 8 months old now. As much as I believe that "mother" is such an honourable role, I feel that the real me is just bursting to come out! :)

    ReplyDelete
  26. Soooo eloquently written Kate. I've been struggling most of this year with these exact same thoughts - my only child finished VCE last year, and now has his license and own car, so in a way I feel redundant after nearly 19 years! I am about to turn 54, and suddenly have all this time on my hands - what to do, what to do? I flit and hover amongst my several hobbies, unsure exactly where my life is now heading.

    Oh, and ladies, my counsellor has told me repeatedly over the years that it's not selfish to spend time on myself - it's SELF-CARE! So true!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I found as my children became more independent and eventually moved out of home I grieved for each of them. I had to continually remind myself of what my beautiful mother-in-law use to say to me, 'it is our role as a parent to guide our children to be responsible, independent adults'. As they become independent it is time to gradually fill the void in your life so you do have an identity and a meaningful life to live.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks so much for stopping by...

I do read every single comment you leave and appreciate it very much, but I should let you know that I can be a wee bit on the useless side when replying to comments, that's just me, everyday life sometimes gets in the way....so I'll apologise now, just in case.

Kate XX

Visit my other blog.