Welcome to the 7th edition of the #beingamother project. In this week’s instalment, I’m opening up the floor for the unapologetically honest, refreshingly realistic and soulfully lovely Charlene from Moderate Mum, for her take on what motherhood means to her. ..
I was the girl that always lost her homework. I don’t mean left it on the bus or in my locker, I lost it in my room under the piles of teenage detritus. I’d try to clean up, I wanted to be tidy but I always found myself engaged in something else, like a book I’d found under the bed or learning all the words to Mariah Carey’s ‘Vision of Love’. Then I’d go begging for my mother’s mercy on Sunday night,
‘Never again.’ She’d admonish every week as she patiently helped me to find my floor. I’d promise to do my best.
As I got older and moved into a place of my own I developed a technique for keeping my environment presentable. This technique was furiously decluttering for the two hours before anyone arrived at my house and dedicating at least one large cupboard to shoving stuff in. This method had some disadvantages – I couldn’t befriend anyone that lived within a mile radius of me for fear they might drop round and I had duplicates of almost everything I owned because the locations of the originals were unknown.
I held on to a sinister belief that as a woman it was my responsibility for my home to be clean and judging by his lack of participation it seems this belief was secretly shared by my husband. When I fell pregnant I feared that my relationship with hygiene would hit an all-time low. A baby meant even more washing and wiping and a greater pressure to keep things clean for the sake of the little critter. I’m sure my pregnancy nausea was actually cleaning angst; I even dismissed the idea of a home birth almost entirely on the basis that I didn’t want the stress of dealing with the mess of it all.
What actually happened I could never have anticipated. Rather than weighing me down further that child lifted the burden of cleaning clear from my shoulders. From the start he helped me to prioritise, there was always something more meaningful to do. I knew I would rather cuddle him than mop or sing to him than iron bedsheets. Seeing him grow before my eyes finally rammed home the message that life is short, too short to dust skirting.
Parenting also makes you realise that you have to own who you are. You can’t fake it with a child, they know when you’re not comfortable, when you’re not being true to you. So I had to accept many things about myself including that fact that I just don’t like tidying up all too much.
My baby taught me to change the negative into a positive. Pregnancy and parenthood is full of so many challenging situations that if you don’t laugh you will cry hot, stinging tears all day long. I began to see my slovenly nature as a beautiful quirk. Perhaps I was a creative or a bit too bohemian to be bogged down by chores and then something beautiful happened…
A friend visited recently and I realised I wasn’t gripped by fear. As she sat in my home she commented on how tidy it was, ‘all these clean lines.’ In amazement I had to agree. It seems the clutter wasn’t just on my floor, it was in my mind and along with countless other things, with motherhood I had let it go. I had embraced and accepted my inner slob and so she had given me a break, in much the same way I hope my son will one day.
To find out more about the #beingamother project or take part have a peek here.