Parenting inspiration and perspiration
I wasn’t one of those deluded individuals who was surprised at the amount of work that goes into being a parent. It was exactly what I expected, with the added bonus of a passionate and intense love that I hadn’t quite anticipated to make it all even more worthwhile than I expected.
And of course, there were moments when I examined my circumstances and thought back to my former life with longing and perhaps, in my darkest moments, something like resentment. But in general, my two children more than make up for the sacrifices, and add an inexpressible joy and purpose to my existence.
Something that I have struggled with is realising my goal of being a wonderful mother. I’m used to being the quirky girl with the slightly radical opinions, a News24 column, the guts to go freelance, the effortlessly happy marriage and the sense of fun. I didn’t have to work too hard at all of this; who I am just spilled over into everything that I did.
But parenting, not so much. Instead of being this exceptional matriarch who fills her children’s world with wonder and delight, who gets them through the daily routine with a dose of the offbeat and fanfare of the extraordinary, I find myself propelling us from mundane task to mundane task without really having the time for creativity or fun.
Sure, my daughter gets to paint and draw and help me cook and has two outings a day on the weekends, while my son gets age-appropriate bashing toys and baby massages, but most decent parents offer these things. And while my children appreciate the time with me as if I were putting on a Shakespearian performance while juggling and cooking tomato soup with nitroglycerin, I know I’m just, you know, reading a book or baking a fish finger.
I struggle with the notion that I could be so much more. If I had more time and I were less exhausted, I could create universes for them to explore. I haven’t yet built a fortress out of the sofa for my daughter even though every day I mean to, because it just takes too long, involves too much tidying up and there exists the very real possibility that I would then have to do this every afternoon.
I was recently refreshed by having a friend visit from the UK. She’s the kind of girl that lights up a room with the wattage of her personality. She is possessed of an incisive wit and unusual way of viewing the world that makes time spent with her a pleasure and an adventure. She has also recently had a little girl.
It was great to see her chasing around after a toddler, being a fantastic mother. But my measure of fantastic is different to what I imagined it would be before the chaos hit. She’s going about the day-to-day grind of being entirely responsible for another human being with good cheer and humour, and her child is already a credit to her as someone who’s doing the job with the perfect balance of structure and flexibility, but she’s not reading her daughter Tolstoy for Toddlers or doing backflips around a tub of yoghurt either.
She’s still the same person, and our conversations about motherhood were lively dialogues, exchanged with wit and warmth and perception, but ultimately, there’s only so much extraordinary you can inject into wiping noses and changing nappies and bathing and putting to bed, which is what 95 percent of parenting is all about.
And so, courtesy of her visit, I’m feeling far more balanced about my own approach - and hoping that the person that I am, that I hope my children will discover me to be, is conveyed in the simple parts of existence, rather than in the extraordinary feats I felt that I was failing to achieve every day.
- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.
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