Friday, 6 August 2010

My many selves

This week I have been thinking a lot about the different selves I seem to have or inhabit in a week. There is the Mum self who looks after Ella and the teacher self who can almost forget she is a mother, and the woman full of all the these ideas and dreams but no time or space to do them in.

The way motherhood is presented or at least described is often very black and white about identity. You are either a homemaker or a career superwoman juggling work and family. There only ever seems to be the extremes of the continuum. But my experience is more like I completely switch from one to the other. When I am at home I act like I never have to go to work. I make plans and almost commit to things without thinking that I have to work two days a week. I am often really disappointed that I have to go to work and will miss out an activity that Ella and I could go to because of it. But when I am at work I almost forget about Ella - shocking isn't it! And I just want to keep working and when professional development and extra curricular opportunities come up I even agree to them before I remember that I can't do them and that Ella needs me.

I am stunned at how my mind is able to just focus on what I am doing right now and everything else seems to disappear. But it is also wonderful. In the past I have found it so hard to be present in the moment in what I am doing and have often felt torn and stretched. I wonder whether sleep deprivation and breastfeeding hormones have something to do with it. I can only really cope with what is happening right now rather than having the energy or brain space to think about anything else. There is a real joy in that.

However, I wish I could be home more, and I wish I could work more. I love both. It is a marvelous dilemma to have. And it shows me that being a Mum is not about black and white decisions such as "I will stay home with my kids' or choosing or having to work. Instead it is a mash up of the life I had before Ella arrived and the new life which is unravelling and developing as she and I grow and our family circumstances change. It would be awful to feel as if I have made some sort of decision or rules about how things had to be such as "Good mothers stay home" which could limit what life can be even when new opportunities present themselves. If feminism has done anything for women it should mean that we can change our minds and live our lives as they evolve rather than by rules or expectations society or we set for ourselves.

I know that is a bit of a ramble. I am tired. Ella has been sick and I am exhausted. And I had to work today. Ahhh living the dream...

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