Sophia Loren is credited with saying “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” So what happens when child becomes children, then another one joins them, and your husband is working so hard he relies on you, whether he admits it or not, to get to that office every day in clean clothes and with enough energy to sustain the pressure he is no doubt under?
Before long, if you are not careful (assuming you manage to add in the thinking required for that), your own thoughts are buried so deep under those about your family, along with the corresponding pile of laundry and lists of things to do just to keep the household functioning, you forget they are even there. The hamster wheel becomes all, habitual; movement simply from one meal or load of washing to the next, chores interspersed with good intentions to nag, cajole and even pay the tribe of dependants to help before giving up and doing it yourself.
How others saw you, what you were or perhaps still are away from the cauldron, prior to becoming this provider of everything domestic bears no relevance when you are in the midst of family dinner time (very important for social skills, after all, where else will they perfect their aim of the pea-into-cup move, the hilarity of show-me-your-gobful-of-masticated-pasta-and-I’ll-show-you-mine? Just my family? Right.). The warm fuzzy glow of preparing a beautiful dinner (or more likely the hot flush from a G&T drunk while stirring the failure of a sauce) will quickly evaporate on being met with dubious looks despite your reassurance that it’s a Nigella/Jamie/Bill recipe or ________’s (insert their best friend’s name) absolute favourite and that you got the recipe from their mum especially. After ‘the look’ they will remind you that they do not, and never have in fact, like whatever it is you have just put in front of them, at which point you can either choose to remind them that they ate said thing only last week or make them some toast and feed the dinner to the dog.
It often takes an accident, or unintentional nudge from a friend, book, article to help you scale the virtual walls of the pit of drudgery. Sometimes you have to wait, enduring a prolonged floundering at the bottom as, in desperation, you reach for short-term fixes which do no more than lift you temporarily and then dump you back in the murk.
The short-term fixes are illusory. Good friends, quality time spent with family, exercise, reading a book, walking barefoot on grass or sand, meditating, taking a yoga class with an inspirational teacher, listening to an uplifting Ted Talk, picking or arranging beautiful flowers, eating a delicious meal, cooking a delicious meal, talking to a child about what is important to them, these are fixes, these feed your soul. These represent time well spent. And if you think you just don’t have time for these, try this, it works:
Time is Big.
Our belief that we don’t have enough time is false, We have all the time there is to have. We just fill it up with too much. Today when you feel rushed, say aloud, Time is big, and notice yourself relax.