Motherhood is always on my mind, every day: I’m a working mother of a working mother and furthermore I’m the only child of an increasingly frail elderly mother. And I know I’m one of many, many mothers in this kind of situation (and for that matter many fathers also).
A typical question that mothers ask themselves continually is, “am I doing enough?” That strong instinct to give your children your very best at all times comes with a side order of self-doubt – “what haven’t I taken into account? Have I forgotten anything? What if, what if what if?”
I remember at one point sitting down to think things through and compile a list of what was on my mind. It began with reasonable enough items but soon gained momentum until I realised I was now listing concerns relating to possible scenarios twenty years ahead – I was beating myself up for not being able to control time and space!
Working mothers now make up a significant portion of the workforce; it’s the normality not the exception. Understandably we want to give our careers and our employers our very best too – and we strive to keep all the balls in the air and everybody happy. But to give our best we need to look after ourselves first. Just like the air stewards say, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first before you help others – you need to be able to breathe!
And actually, taking a few moments every day to breathe slowly, close your eyes and be still does wonders in my experience. The world will keep turning even though you’re not closely supervising it!
As for Mother’s Day, it’s lovely – and appropriate - to have an annual day to celebrate motherhood, to be with our mothers if we can and to hold them in our thoughts and memories if they’re no longer with us. But if I could ask for a mother’s day present on behalf of all mothers and especially those juggling paid work and caring for loved ones, it would be this. Please be patient with us as we struggle to “do it all”: don’t take it personally if we wear a frown from time to time - we’re likely thinking about several things at once and feeling guilty about all of them!
Deb Ejenas, Communications Manager, Bright Horizons