In recent weeks I have been feeling an air of discomfort, as I share moments of my day to day or publically unpick my feelings on particular subjects, I realise that naturally, onlookers develop there own impression of who I am and how I navigate my life. However I often feel that the image they project back is somewhat out of shape and to me, quite unfamiliar.
Perhaps I am more patient where others may feel strained, or calm, where some might feel rage and perhaps my creativity may flare on days when others feel exhausted of inspiration. But I am also a deeply flawed human being thats often simply scraping by, trying to push through my vulnerabilities one tentative step at a time. Those who look on at the edited and curated moments of my motherhood need not worry. I am no more and no less, side by side I am in the thick of it with you, set in survival mode whilst seeking out the joy.
I often refer to my life as chaotic but that does not even bare the weight of the myriad of things that it is. My every day is a swirling, noisy, madness where the simple and mundane can become an erratic mission impossible.
I often get physically lost under the mountains of laundry and the village of crumbs that have collected between the cracks. Its messy in my mind and it can be messy under the kitchen sink, there are days when I bury things away in a darkened cupboard and days when I let it all spill out. It is hard to carry the mental and emotional load of raising and educating a young family, particularly when the way I choose to do that is considered a little unconventional.
Outside of my own four walls I am deeply aware that I ruffle feathers, raise eyebrows and challenge narratives and this too, holds weight on already tired shoulders. However, just because I consciously do things differently, because I believe that children should be treated as whole people, building connection over control, because I reject the current education system and believe I can better nurture a love learning at home; that does not mean that I am a picture perfect, peaceful parent. It also doesn’t mean that I sit passing judgement at anyone who doesn’t reach this unattainable vision of the mother who has it all together.
We are all riding this wave and it looks different out there for each of us.
There are days when I raise my voice despite knowing that it will achieve nothing but further disconnect. There are day’s when I wrongfully shame my children or belittle their feelings because in the moment, I am unable to manage my level of frustration, because I am triggered and drowning in my own unmet needs. There are days when I scroll my phone for a bit too long because I would rather disappear into a corner of the internet numb, than break up another sibling fight or deal with a melt down over offering the wrong shaped pasta. We all have sides of ourselves that remind us of a cold and stormy day and we want to hide from the rain despite knowing its the very thing we need for the nourishment of our souls. So no, I am not at all zen, I do not make home made play doh or cook gluten free nutritious meals from scratch, I don’t have beautiful montessori shelves and despite watching Mrs Hinch daily on Instagram, my home is pretty much a mess!
But in this season of life as a mother, there is little use focusing on what we are not. For those quiet imperfections and sweeping moments of ‘not enough’ aren’t even a whisper to my children, who truly love beyond measure, whether their packed lunch was gourmet or not. So whilst you’re there looking at me, decoding my day to day and theorising on how I ‘do it all,’ I am likely looking right back, questioning exactly the same. What becomes important is where we fix our gaze, internally or externally?
However we frame our thoughts we will always be laced in both unconditional love and undeniable imperfection.
The beauty of being flawed is that it presents me with daily opportunities to grow and learn. To heal from old wounds and to rise above the torments that reside like unwanted visitors. Each time I speak to my children in a way that doesn’t honour who they are, I have to ask myself why? I have to challenge the harsh, impatient and perhaps controlling sides of the person I can be faced with because I know this is not naturally who I am. I peel back the layers to understand myself a little more and this search brings with it a certainty that change is always possible. We all have unknown spaces within us, spaces that closet our deepest fears, our unwanted memories and our unfathomable pain. It’s only through those less than perfect moments when we slip up, make mistakes or simply drown in our own sense of overwhelm that we start to realise that space is indeed there.
We want to know it, understand it and perhaps even fill it.
It has taken me time to realise that this space I own has a purpose. It cannot and should not be filled because it is there to remind me that I am human. My personal struggles were meant for me and this journey is all perfectly mapped out.
I need not worry about the cupboard under the stairs, the state of my car interior or the time I went out with my clothes on inside out. There is a beautiful chaos in the day to day when you can’t see the floor for Lego but you can see the smiles of children who are free to play. There is so much to gain when we show that we don’t always get it right but that we will hold ourselves accountable and keep on trying. Little do our children know that despite wanting the colourful plaster and the special cream, sometimes the cuts need to be left open to breathe. Sometimes those scars are the best reminders, for they tell the stories we often seem to forget.
The stories that matter the most. Sometimes the lesson is found when the glue won’t stick, or toilet rolls run out.
My children won’t remember the time I raised my voice a little too loud or sobbed on the bedroom floor because I couldn’t take their whining for a moment more. But I am sure they will remember that I was always there, always present and always striving to be the best example to them. No matter how flawed I perceive myself to be and regardless of what others think that I am, when I ask my children (which I frequently do) “what can I do to be a better mummy?” Their reply is always exactly the same.
“Nothing mummy, we love you perfectly the way you are.”
By Sumaya Teli