Thursday, May 5

I shed a skin

I have alternated between living according to other people's expectations, striving towards my self-imposed ideals, and following my true heart.

In recent times, I allowed myself to be fuelled by the 'supermothers' of blogland. Not a lot, but enough.
The blogs of women who are mothers, run a business, are creative, take amazing photos, homeschool, knit, study towards a major degree, preserve and bake, do D.I.Y, publish, do crafts and nature studies with the kids, run a popular blog, and possibly fly.

The woman of today competes by how much she can stuff into the day. We're proud of our To Do lists and when we schedule time to relax, we think it perfectly normal.

The most insidious influences, and the most influential to me personally, are the want-tos rather than ought-tos - you know, like great creative ideas. I'm not competitive and I don't compare my life to others', but I still strove mentally and emotionally towards an ideal.

What really struck me was the thought that, we are saying...

mothering isn't enough.

A man leaves for work and returns at a set time and rests easy that he's done his bit. A woman feels the need to justify being at home. Raising the next generation, being available, is not enough. Yes, some men say it's not enough, "what have you done all day?" they ask accusingly. Unfortunately there also remain women who feel themselves superior because they have paid work.

But, ironically, we, the proud-to-stay-at-home mothers, say it loudest. By choosing to do and do and do and do, or planning to do and do, and still feel it's not enough. And because we say it of ourselves, we undermine our role more than anyone else ever could.

I wanted to tell my friend whose husband often asks the above to reply with -  

Today I raised our children.

Coming late to mothering I have done enough self-work to not fall into the Must Do More trap. But I fell back into a personal life-long trap of feeling the need to achieve something Big and Meaningful - the Want To Do More trap. Both choke our days, deplete us, and diminish our beautiful work.

I've shed that skin now.

I'm raising my child.
I carve out time to express my creativity.
I help others in small, intimate ways.

It's sad to say it's good enough.
It's complete.

All I've ever truly wanted is a deep connection to what most people define as Sacredness. And to live my life in a natural flow stemming from that connection. I kept tripping and working backwards - choosing to do and do, and hoping that sacredness kept up.

When I work from my true desire, I am peace amidst chaos. I do less yet feel more fulfilled. I am more in tune with my intuition. I hear others better. I get to appreciate beauty. I get to enjoy life. True enjoyment - without an ever-present underlying anxiety.

I've been working at this issue. How do I know that I've shed the skin?

The other day I daydreamed for the first time in.... 15 years? Not only did I not feel any guilt, I felt refreshed, and carried on my day without a need to make up for lost time.

Do you wear these skins?


  1. wonderful post!!

    & yes, i do.

  2. LOVE THIS! I am currently in great contemplation re my mothering/ creative balance... and I want more creative, less mothering, that way they get the best of me, not my worst... but hubby just aint listening. Will be coming back to this post again and again...

  3. love, love, love....i've worn these skins -- sometimes i still have them draped over my arm -- you know, just in case someone challenges what it is i *do*....;)

    but for the most part - i can truly say that what i do now, i do purely from joy and a path to connection that Sacredness...


  4. I have paid work. It doesn't pay enough but we need me to do it and I still feel all these things plus the guilt of sharing my child with a school teacher and not having enough time for her. Mothering is more than enough, I, however, am not. It sucks.
    I love this post. We help each other by hearing what we have to say. I hear you.

  5. that's right, when we nurture ourselves they do then get the best of us.

    mel, i keep mine draped over a chair, available but keeps some distance. :)

    Hi Jo - ah, that's a whole 'nother issue. Of feeling stretched between roles and still never feeling you're never fulfilling anything completely. We are tough on ourselves.

  6. "I kept tripping and working backwards - choosing to do and do, and hoping that sacredness kept up."

    I love that! I think we, as a society have "busy sickness", Mansukh Patel talks about the restless monkey mind and how we are too scared to slow down and just be, because we will find out how chaotic it is in our minds.

    I too have fallen into that trap and do not pretend that I am out of it. I still have to remind myself how things do flow more naturally and peacefully when we can be present and not so worried about all the doing.

    The spiritual path, you gotta love it :).

  7. I love this post. I think often about this. I am lucky to have a husband that says 'don't worry about getting things done. Just take care of our son and we'll work on the house chores together when I get home.'. But saying that I do try to do a little while I'm home anyway but because I want to.
    I so often think of how people say to my husband- how's work? An what are you doing at work these days? But people never ask me, what have you guys been up to lately. Because I'm just a stay at home mom... I must just do laundry and change diapers. Though I'm sure they don't mean to not ask, they probably just don't know what to ask or say. And somedays I feel like o get caught up thinking that all I did was sit around and play with Luke. But that's it, that is the most important thing I could be doing. But I think somedays it's hard not to have that self satisfying feeling of 'doing something' and every now and then I have to remind myself that what I do is enough. I don't need to have millions of projects complete or all the dishes done... I have a happy almost 2 year old child that loves me and loves to play with Mama.

  8. Yes.
    I will say as I get older that the gerbil in my head yelling at me to GO GO GO GO GO GO GO !!! is more quiet. That I can 'just be' more. That I can just provide for my children and care for my home and find some time to garden or paint. Whatever, whenever. But of course that is unschooling, and we do that for ourselves and not just our kids.

    I find that being home helps. The less we schedule, the better. We have a few commitments, but we don't need to live in the car. My kids don't need 44 classes a week plus playdates plus groups. We need to be home as a family. No to-do lists. No watch. No rush. Life is OK. :)

  9. My perspective is a little different, as I love Good Enough. (Funny, I wrote "good enough" just last night.)
    I feel fulfilled with it, and I feel complete, and just as important, I feel Happy. I love that my "Good Enough"'s are mine and only mine, as I know the babes are thriving, and I know how dh is doing/feeling.
    It's more of a celebration of a happy life than a dissatisfied frown. You know?

  10. Great post Mon. I am not a stay-at-home Mom and I am burdened a bit by my skins that's for sure. Will reflect on this quite a lot. Thanks Mon!

  11. oh that is such a good post. I was completely feeling that over the last few days - brought on by looking at various mothers I know online who are launching businesses/writing books/crafting amazing creations; coupled with a couple of mothers I know irl who always ask "so what do you do ?" with the implication that being at home with the children isn't enough. I was only feeling earlier that I needed to have some purpose; that I was not good enough at anything - this post has reminded me that I want to commit to being the best mother I can. That anything else creative/craft is intended as a hobby and interest and that is sufficient for me at this time in my life. Thank you -

  12. I could talk all day on this topic, and probably defend several points of view in the process. While I admire the superstar mama bloggers (and you are one of them) I also remember that a blog is just a tiny window into one's life. I always try to think of myself as a friend when I get overwhelmed. What would I tell a good friend. Well..never that she isn't good enough or incomplete.

  13. i have so happily been shedding the skins of thinking i need to do more than parent. my husband completely supports me in the important work of raising our son and i'm so grateful for that. when i step out of our family and home to the outer world, i am often asked when i will go back to work and am i happy. when i say that i'm not and that i am staying home to raise our son and that it makes me so happy i can tell they are a bit dumbstruck. but i do know the comparing you speak of toe the supermom bloggers... i have learned a lot about what i want my life to look like and then how it is and what i have control over to change - like the serenity prayer. : ) and we're just all different. just like our kids. it's best never to compare yourself but just be who you are.

  14. There are so many aspects of this that touched on stuff I'm going through, and I'm not even a mother! LOL. There are so many expectations and standards we create for ourselves as women...every time I hear someone lay those down and enjoy the beauty of her life, it makes me remember to do the same.

  15. I love that analogy. It feels exactly like shedding skin, and I wonder if the process ever stops really. There always seems to be new challenges as well as new opportunities and new ideas. I am a doer too (I may be going out on a Iimb here but I think all bloggers tend to be doers :)). So I guess balance for me is an active process, where there is constant, sometimes large, sometimes tiny, adjustments to be made. I have to agree with Denise too, unschooling has helped me so much in shedding most of my preconceived notions about anything, helping me find balance much quicker than I use to. Lovely lovely post Mon, thank you.

  16. oh absolutely MJ, it's a process. like an onion shedding one skin, many more left lol

  17. My problem is feeling like an avalanche is going to fall on top of me and I either have the choice to get the chores done, or just jump out from underneath and go do something fun. And that's just the every day stuff. What about all my dreams?

    I was thinking the other day about famous women writers from yesteryear. Either they had servants to do all the housework, or they were childless, or both, or they must have had a dirty house because who could do all the work AND write?

    And so even though I really wish I could do it all (and by 'all' I just mean keep a clean house, cook meals, have fun with my child, and work on ONE of my dreams), I realize that it is just impossible. I don't think we are MEANT to do it all.

    But there is one thing I have always believed, perhaps because I was brought up with the idea, that motherhood IS enough. This is my core belief, despite what insane ideas the world throws at me. Some days I just want to hack away at all the extra stuff and focus only on that. But the extra stuff is stuff I enjoy. Minimizing is something I really struggle with.

    I can't say that I just do and do and do--I'm really not that good at getting things done. But sometimes I wish I just had NOTHING to do. Have a chance to be bored, you know? Just listen to the breeze in the trees, or make up a game with my little boy. THAT would be nice.

  18. Hey Mama! You won the CD's!! I need you address :). Hugs and love,

  19. Freedom and peace in all that you do is the key I think, just quietly go about your life, feeling happy and content, and "live in the now". This seems to have worked well for me all these years, cheers from New Zealand, Marie

  20. This is a beautiful post and your thoughts are ones that go around in my mind often. This is a journey but being at peace with my decision is something that I will continue to work on. Thank you for your insight and reminding me to be kind to myself. xo

  21. Sometimes I come here and read and think you have written for me. It is my lesson for the day. I admit I often give in that desire to be doing more and then I feel inadequate. But then there are days when I am mothering and think this is it! My skin comes off and I breathe more easily. Thank you.

  22. so glad you allow yourself that balance Manisha

  23. Hmmm "A man leaves for work and returns at a set time and rests easy that he's done his bit." This man says "I WISH"! :-)

  24. you're welcome Catherine, thanks for stopping in.

    chuckle @ Steve. ;)

  25. I have no idea what is the definition of "good enough". I keep asking myself and I still have to figure out the answer. And yes, I occasionally read about these super-women and I shake my head wondering how do they do it...I don't have kids and I am always behind doing what I like. I don't read enough. I don't make enough art. what's worse is that I don't enjoy things as much as I used to. I keep wondering what I would have done if I were a single mother...I still expect to do something "big enough","important enough"...for whom?! I am still wearing that skin...

  26. "All I've ever truly wanted is a deep connection to what most people define as Sacredness. And to live my life in a natural flow stemming from that connection. I kept tripping and working backwards - choosing to do and do, and hoping that sacredness kept up."
    I love this and relate to it completly.
    I love and relate to each and every word here in this post Mon.
    It feels like in the society we live in we have to constantly be striving, we're never just enough as we are. It's this keep moving, keep acumulatating, keep producing, keep consuming mentality that is so stressful and impossible to satiate.
    Letting go without feeling like your kids are being left behind in some way is the tricky part for me.
    I don't want to feel like I'm somehow not giving them all the opportunities available while at the same time actually living according to my deep soul ideals and allowing them to do the same.

  27. "Today I raised our children." These are powerful words for me. Thank you for these words.

    I come to you from Sweet Sky/Mama Om.

  28. I forget now how I clicked over to this post because I have had the window open for more than a day now and just gotten around to reading it, but I am so very glad that I did and I'll soon be off to read more.

    As hard as I try not to, I absolutely do wear those skins, and it can be exhausting and endlessly disappointing. Thank you for the reminder that it's okay to take them off.

  29. yes, i much as i recognize that that is what i am doing, i find myself quantifying at the end of the day - let's see, the laundry's done, meals cooked, bills paid, floor swept - when i know so well from experience that a day wide open, with no agenda and no have-to's (external or internal), leaves me open for what i truly crave: connection with my kids, a sense of Being Here, contentment. i'm working on how to not pass those values that i am trying to shed on to my girls...

  30. thanks for adding your thoughtful input everyone.

    welcome melissa

  31. Anonymous15 June, 2011

    Wonderful post. I totally connected with it. i struggle with not enough. because some days i follow my emotions and my emotions say, do nothing. sit with your kids and play. and when my husband comes home to a dirty house i feel guilty. i'm working on it.

  32. I clicked on authentic living because this is where I want my journey to lead... and I almost cried reading the first few lines. I hope we can interact and share stories in the future. For the first time, my doubts about blogging have dissipated and I feel that I am where I should be. Thank You.


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