Being a mum is a bit like being in a circus. Juggling isn’t so much an entertaining art form as a necessary skill. If you didn’t possess this skill prior to having a child, you soon do. Frequently you’re the ringmaster, often the clown, sometimes the tightrope walker and maybe when you have the energy, you are the sexy acrobat.
Shouldn’t we all be the ringmasters of our own lives? Why does being a mum change this? First though, let’s talk juggling…
Mums; all mums – regardless of their life situations find themselves holding many metaphorical balls in the air. For some it may be work, children and study. For others it may be children, relationship, illness and financial stress.
Just when you are secretly quite chuffed at your ability to keep all these balls in the air, you drop one. Damn, now you’re scrambling like mad trying to grab it with your foot whilst keeping the others up. Wait, one of the balls is heavier, hard to get in the air & your arms hurt. If these metaphorical balls are the events in your life you can’t drop them. Can you?
Yes you can.
Even if you are a proficient juggler, you will eventually struggle if you have too many balls or the pace is too fast. This is not a negative thing – its physics. We can’t fight physics but we try don’t we? Let’s stop trying.
Having spoken to hundreds of mums over the years, the most common issues that arise are guilt and lack of balance. Women are expected to be the carers who often put the needs of others first. Countless studies have verified this. For some women nurturing others is instinctive and enjoyable. For others, it comes out of necessity – having children or sick parents for example. Regardless of why we do it, we often become so accustomed to it that we lose vital parts of ourselves. This is where the guilt and lack of balance arise.
So along with those other balls you are juggling, let’s add one called guilt. Does all this juggling make us better mums if it’s mixed with guilt? No. It just makes us guilty jugglers. Can you imagine sitting at the circus watching a highly strung, stressed out, guilty juggler? Tragic! You don’t want to watch it and you don’t want to live it. In order to stop living it we need to make some changes.
Firstly, you need to establish what your metaphorical balls are. Eg – Children, financial stress, career, health etc
Now, I’m not suggesting you remove all of these balls. It’s often not possible and might be unnecessary. Some mums find they are too busy. Some mums find they feel a little bored and isolated. Acknowledging what you are experiencing in your life, gives you the chance to look at it with new eyes. Change what needs changing, accept what you cannot change and be grateful for the opportunity to do both. This is about empowering yourself to live the life you want and maintaining the necessary juggle – WITHOUT the guilt.
According to Google (what doesn’t Google know?):
“The fact of having committed a specified or implied offense or crime”
Okay so the noun isn’t necessarily the most relevant option in this case but you see the point I’m making? Why do we feel as though we are committing a crime if we want some lifestyle change or time to ourselves? Only you can remove your guilt. Ultimately, we choose our own emotions and reactions to situations. No one else can make us feel guilty so no one else can take that away. You may think your partner makes you feel guilty because you want to go salsa dancing one night a week. You have a feeling of guilt. They might list reasons why it is inconvenient (for them) but they are not MAKING you feel guilty. You are choosing to. Just as you choose to feel guilty, you can choose not to! Let anxiety, guilt and blame go and watch your life expand.
Jacqueline is the author of the eBook, Cirque du Mummy, an entertaining and honest summary of the realities of motherhood. She is currently writing a book detailing her challenging history, with the goal of helping others overcome struggles. Jacqueline completed her BSc (Psych) at the University of Southern Queensland and is a member of the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association. Jacqueline's Avidity Association office is located in Paddington, Queensland and she is available for counselling, group therapy or mentoring in her office and Skype or phone counselling within Australia.