I have been child rearing for 8.5 years, and sometimes I think I’m a bit of a veteran, having 3 of the blighters and all. But as in anything, I am standing on the shoulders of giants, giant other-mothers, who over the years have given me words or insights that have been key to my evolution as a mother.
The dutiful mother…
I’ve written about her before, elsewhere, and she has stayed with me for the past 8 years. She is the sister of a good friend of G, and I met her at a flat when I had a 3 month old and she had a 4 year old and 5 month old. I was aaahing and oohing over her two, saying how much she must love being a mum etc. She looked at me straight up and said “It’s not about love, first and foremost I am a dutiful mother”. She went on to express to me how of course she loved her kids etc, but that mothering is not always about the roses and hearts and flowers (a place I totally was with my ONE very easy 3-month old) but about being there for the duration, and doing your duty by your kids through thick and thin.
As slightly shocking as her words were at that moment, they have come back to me many times over the years, and as a well seasoned mum of 3 now I totally get it. You love them, you do. But it’s not love that always keeps you going ‘cos sometimes you feel that you don’t like them, and in those times it’s your duty as a mother that keeps you feeding, cleaning, working, hugging, washing and all the other tasks that you have to do.
I’m not saying that duty keeps you from enjoying them, I’m saying that in fact it’s the backbone of good enough parenting, and of this type of long term care that can too often be thankless and relentless.
So, thank you dutiful mother, your words have grounded and comforted me.