Boys are loud, busy, room filling, messy and hilarious. And thoughtful occasionally… surprising you with a huge too tight but adorable gangly hug when you least expect it or a “mum, you rock!” just after lights out or picture drawn of you with your arms outstretched wider than anyone else’s by a country mile. Boys are everything you read about them and so much more.
I don’t know if my boys know I have been on a heart journey. Maybe one day they might, if they read this, I guess. I do know however that the mother they had, and the mother I am now, are as different as chalk and cheese. Things that I did as a new mother while trying to also be a financially contributing professional person trying to have a career, and equally financially support our household, I regret deeply. Things that I did, that in hindsight I wish I hadn’t…They have taken along time to heal. Leaving my six week old son in the care of a nanny so I could earn an income, eventually became a contributing factor to my marriage ending, such was the guilt. Trying to juggle two careers, and 3 young children, university study, and too much mortgage debt…these are my learnings…If I could take it all back and do it again I would do it all so differently, in a heart beat. But I cannot.
I was there (sometimes!) but even when I was, I wasn’t…I was thinking about all the pressures, the obligations, the responsibilities, the bills, the deadlines, the must do lists, the debt, the appearances to be kept up…I was on the phone, on the computer, talking to other adults, studying, at work, running around doing errands…I was never just “there” it felt like. A neighbor commented, and I will never forget it, that my youngest was “practically bringing him self up”. This was my life. And my three young sons. I had 3 boys under 5 years of age….They actually deserved better that this. But I was sure I was doing everything right to ensure “their futures were secure”. I was not alone. Their father was equally guilty. In the end it doesn’t matter – it destroyed us. It is not to say they did not have happy times. For all the stress, there were many happy times. It was happy, until the unraveling began.
All I can be is a better mother to them now. And I am. I know in myself, I am. I see in them that I am. I know the price for this, is, at the moment, forsaking my career aspirations. I accept this. I know my time is the best thing I can give them RIGHT NOW. A mother who is “present” when with them. This is what they deserve. This is what was missing before. Some may say its too late. That the formative years have passed…too bad I say. I can’t change the past. My intentions were always noble if somewhat misguided. I can only change the now and the future. I can only be “there” now. So, I juggle…Three days I work and get remunerated for my contribution and feel valued and do what I love as a professional in the workplace…and for 4 days I focus on the other areas of my life…being “present” for my children, being creative sometimes, caring for my family, my home and nurturing my friendships and relationships. It is important I work, it makes me feel I contribute financially toward my home and my children’s future. But it does not define me anymore. I accept that for now, my own glass ceiling is hovering just above my head.
What defines me now is this: I am a mother first. A lover, sister, daughter, and friend second. A creative person third. A professional (still with real career aspirations) fourth. I think it used to be in order (although I hate to admit it) of first 1 but followed very, very closely by 4. The other two categories were pretty much ignored, suppressed or given little of my time.. Maybe you will take a look at your own busy life. Maybe. It’s just a thought.
But back to my boys….
They came on a journey unwillingly. They were not asked. They did not want their family home torn asunder. They grieve still openly at times for the “family” they thought they had, the memories of happy times. I know this. It still guts me. There is simply is nothing I can say that makes it better.
It was a hard transition for them. Not only a separation to work through, but also then a new home, new school, new baby sister to deal with and a whole new set of relationships to negotiate with baby, my partner GB and his son …I think I tried to pressure cook it – force some connections and relationships, but I have realized that relationships take time, and they came in their own time, in their own way, without me interfering. Two and a half years on, while the boys are fiercely loyal to their dad (as you would expect), they have made room in their hearts unequivicoally for their sister without hesitation or doubt, and with GB, they have each forged a relationship, in their own way..not with lots of words and deep meaningful conversations, not with forced hugs or the like, but rather over endless games of cricket, trips to the skate park, dinners together and just simply hanging out pottering in the garden or talking cars.
So, boys…they are wicked. Fun. Loud. Funny. Messy and smelly. They are turning into neat young men, witty, considerate, thoughtful and kind. But mostly they are just noisy and room filling and loud, deaf to anything I might suggest, and always hungry. And I love them, deeply, profoundly and unconditionally.