Pondering who I am?

It is so easy in the midst of small children to forget the bigger picture. Simply because I am full time at home does not mean that I am solely a mum. I am a wife before I am a mother, I bear the image of God. I am a friend, a daughter, a sister. I have a couple of degrees, though I admit the first one is not of outstanding quality but it was enough to let me go for a masters, albeit in a totally different field. I love reading the Gruffalo and it is a wonderful book but my brain did and would love to once more read books with a few more words that did not necessarily rhyme but at present my eyes tend to be shut before the first page is open. But that act in and of itself does not negate that part of me that is not focused purely on our children.  But a recent conversation left me wondering if my mothering is how the world identifies me, the other parts of me are left behind, no longer part of who I am or what makes me feel alive. I love the Gruffalo but after ten renditions of it and acting it out has a somewhat numbing affect, somewhat like some of those deeper tomes I want to get back to reading no doubt can have, but I still want to read and use that part of my brain before it is totally neglected and looks more like the ruined castles our 4 year old is fascinated by.

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Yes at present I am likely to spend the major part of my 24 hour day with one, two or three children attached to me, requiring different needs to be fulfilled by me. But I have other skills aside from breastfeeding, reading and building train tracks and drinking imaginary cups of tea. Actually the imaginary cup of tea may be the closest I get to drinking a hot drink of any sort these days but that is a side point. I am also a wife, though as my husband and I spend large parts of our time when he is at home passing like ships in the night dealing with small children then that can easily be forgotten which is not a good thing. Our children need us to be a strong team and the only way that can happen is to be able to communicate and spend time together. What has been a blessing is working out creative ways to share, communicate and be with each other, especially when one child needs to know the ins and outs of every conversation the two of you are having while they are awake and two others think that the double bed in the house belongs to them.

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At church identity for mums can also be lost as there is always a need for children’s workers and Sunday school teachers but that always comes back to the job of the mums more often than not. I have a passion for good children’s work but it is not my strength or love. I have done it for 26 years now in one form or other and for a long part I did it because I care deeply about the mums and long for them to have time to be at church, to be spiritually fed, to remember that they are more than mums and to be free to be fully present in the service. While I am right now having a break since our youngest was born I have continued since becoming a mum to be invited into the work of children’s ministry based on the premise that I am a mum and our children are in Sunday school. Our children also have a father and so do many of the others in our Sunday school groups and yet the fathers are often not that I am aware directly invited to be teachers.  I love that our eldest is now in a Sunday school group that I have no part in. That he is learning from others the story of faith.

We have chosen to have children and have been blessed with three. We have chosen for me to be home full time with them. We have chosen to homeschool for the moment.

They are all choices I stand by and am confident are right for our family in this season. They do not define me in my completeness though. They are not easy paths, there are days when I would happily change the second two, they are hard and tiring places to be in, especially with an age range of 4, 2 and 8 weeks but they are right and because of who I am beyond being a mother I find the courage and strength and wisdom to stay with these choices.

But there needs to be freedom to say it’s hard, there needs to be freedom to be seen as a lady, seen as someone who has something else to offer than simply retellings of the Gruffalo with his purple prickles and poisonous wart at the end of his nose…It is important for our children to know and see that too without simply being told to get a job or send them to nursery/school. When we started this blog I wrote a piece that spoke of it taking a village to raise a child. As I conclude this piece I am reminded of the gift of a friendship this very morning that offered to be part of that village without assuming I needed to go back to work or send the children to school but was willing to step into our family and be part of the village that raises our children and allows me to be me and not simply mum.

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One comment on “Pondering who I am?

  1. Charlotte says:

    I think (almost?) all Mums resonate with your words here – whether working outside the home or not. I’m at the opposite end of the spectrum – working full time with my kids in part-time childcare (logsitically challenging) – and the guilt is immense. Whilst at work I wonder why on earth I am here doing these things while someone else is educating/playing with/feeding my children. When with my children mid-week I feel guilty about the work I am being paid for but not doing (and then stay up working until 1am, resulting in a gumpy mother/employee next morning – cue endless cycle of being both a poor employee and a poor mother). Those working part-time are equally torn, and those at home too. The issue of identity is really key though – people like to put others in boxes in order to establish a sense of where everyone (themselves included) fit. As an example, some acquaintances at church were recently shocked to discover that I have a paid-role beyond motherhood and this has changed the way they speak to me since – I find this really awkward and want to challenge them but don’t know how to do so without causing offence.

    Sorry for the ramblings – I don’t have a solution just wanted to say YES, you’re not alone – in whatever way we all manage our various forms of (paid and non-paid) work – it’s an emotional and physical struggle.

    P.S. I get the Sunday School thing – in this house we have both chosen NOT to go on the Sunday School rota since having kids (I was on it for decades prior), but either my husband or I always stay with our kids in Sunday School since we feel that we see so little of them in the week.

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