The lead up to Mother’s Day has become one of my favourite times to slow down and listen to my children: the covering up of cards as I pick them up from after-care, , whispers as they remind Dad to give them $5 for the Mother’s Day Stall, the excitement in their faces when I arrive at the various school and kinder celebrations, and my favourite – the enormous effort it takes to try to keep their gifts a secret until Mother’s Day! Of course, the halo effect of the lead up to Mother’s Day most certainly doesn’t last all year round in my house. It’s fair to say the wheels can and do come off regularly – which is not really surprising when you are juggling – between navigating the responsibilities that come with being a parent to 3 young kids, running a business, investing in a healthy relationship and staying healthy! The tipping point for me usually takes place during weeks not when I’m just super busy – that is usually energising – but when the work itself reveals the extent of the social change still required – the stories of injustice can break my heart.
Then, of course, it’s my family that sees a less than perfect me: vulnerable and yearning for some lightness but more likely to express the stress I’m holding by raising my voice. For it’s the little things that seem to drive me crazy – getting kids out of the shower after swimming lessons, getting them to finish their dinner within 75minutes, choosing a book before bed and not changing their mind after I’ve already started reading what took them 10 minutes to choose! And don’t even get me started on getting out of the door of a morning!
In truth, even if they do finish their dinner in world record time, that’s not going to provide consolation for me for what I’m feeling and holding. And my children just experience my frustration with no tools to address it. And that’s not what I want to leave as my parenting legacy.
So recently, I tried a new a approach, and it’s proven to have created some light, and lots and lots of laughter.
Firstly, I now have a mantra, as a screensaver on my phone, that I wake up to every day. It’s simple, but reminds me of my purpose and for all that I have to be grateful. And, as a practice of gratitude is scientifically proven to increase your happiness, and the average person checks their phone more than 100 times a day, a mantra as my screen saver is more powerful than I’d imagined!
Secondly, I’ve explained to my kids that it’s often something else that’s causing me to feel irritible, and instead of them feeling helpless and us both going to our corners, I’ve equipped them with a strategy to call me out. If they hear me starting to get irritable or raise my voice, all they need to do is shout “I AM LOVE AND JOY!” And, just as we prepare women to address discrimination with quips to call it out, I made them practice their war cries.
To say they have mastered the use of this new tool is an understatement. The “hey mum, love and joy! love and joy!” from Miss 6 is both cheeky and adorable. Master 7 serves it up as a bit of back-chat, and usually with the raising of an eyebrow!
And nothing makes me stop and remember how much I am still so much my children’s world, than when I’m about to lose my shi*t because Master 3 has locked the shower door at swimming, then opens it up only to throw both arms up in the air and shout “I AM LOVE AND JOY.”
And that he is. They all are. And all I want for Mother’s Day is: love and joy.
So as I approach Mother’s Day, I’m filled with the realisation that these years won’t last forever, so I’m going to savour every card, plant, childcare made hand cream and $5 green candle I’m gifted. And I’m going to keep encouraging my kids to be the love and joy in my life, especially when I’m filled with feelings of vulnerability and my own mirror is reflecting a very imperfect mother.
P.S. I’m sure there’s nothing in this that I didn’t learn from my own mother. Happy Mother’s Day Mum. xo