I’ve been thinking a lot about homemaking, these days. About being a woman and a caregiver and a creative soul. To be doing this fabulous, lively, engaging, and yes, tiresome, never-ending, unpaid work. I’ve been thinking, in particular, about how fulfilling it can be, how much of a chance there is for personal growth–what some call inner work. I was thinking about how conducive it can be to living ecologically, to learning new skills, to discovering new passions. And also reflecting on the sacrifices involved in it. There is much that I have had to let go of in order to be fully present for my family (For example, among things on hold for me are a half-written novel about a tree-pruner in 19th century New Mexico). There are days when I struggle with this sacrifice, and days when I celebrate all I have gained in its stead.
And yes, I was also thinking about what makes it work for me, the nitty gritty everyday sorts of things that help our family thrive. I started working on this little series of posts I have planned called Ordering the Stars. And then, boom, I was struck by this lightning bolt.
My housekeeping prowess that I was bragging a bit about? It’s not my de-cluttering, or personal growth, or menu plans, or some profound philosophy that I can credit. Okay, it is all those things, a little bit. But here’s my real secret, for better of for worse: It’s that I’m, um, driven. A doer, a manifester, a highly enthusiastic, more than a bit competitive, rising star in the type-A Uber Mother universe.
In other words, motherhood had become yet another product-oriented job. As in, how productive can I be? How clean can I get my house, how beautifully can I celebrate festivals, how strictly can I stick to the all-important rhythm, how gently can I parent (a wild banshee), how little plastic can I use, how well can I keep to a tiny budget while still shopping at the most expensive market, how quickly can I lose the baby weight, how fully can I keep my old hobbies and passions alive while doing all the rest of this?
Now, these are all worthy things, wonderful things to guide ones work as a mother. I think in some ways we need to have high expectations of ourselves, to have a vision and to strive towards it. And yet in motherhood perhaps more than any other undertaking, it is possible to strive and strive towards an impossible ideal. To never be quite as good as we think we should be. I could go on and on about how much I enjoy this season of Motherhood–it is challenging and provocative and engaging work. But it’s not a job. It’s life. I’d prefer to just be living it.
I keep wondering how to slip the word “surrender” into this post, so I’ll just say it here. Surrender, Mama! Chill out! Have Fun! Do it cause you love it, not because you saw it on someone else’s blog. It’s okay!
If we need to strive, how about giving ourselves goals that are nurturing and real? To shift it from a How Much kind of quest to a How To kind–from a product to a process. To be guided by questions like, How can I be present in this moment? How can I show love to myself, my children, my partner? Or, What does it feel like to soften into this journey, letting it take me where it will? Or, would it really be the end of the world if I just chilled out?
PS–You know what’s cool about all us type-A mothers out there? We have this great safety valve built in that keeps us from being perfectionists: our kids! Three cheers for quirky little beings not interested in conforming to our agendas.
Happy Mother’s Day!