Motherhood is both glorious and deeply painful. Next year my youngest starts school and it feels like my husband and I have been counting down this moment for a lifetime.
My second born is only four. She thinks she is twenty-four until a crowd of people surround her and then her four-ness overwhelms and she runs back to me.
Two weeks before my firstborn arrived earthside; I was made redundant from my job. A job I devoured as a young adult and matured into middle age. A position that I gave everything I had and a little more. The rude shock into motherhood took my breath away.
My husband and I discussed over and over throughout our nine months of being pregnant what going back to work would be like for us all. And then that day. The day that I sat on my bosses couch eight months pregnant with no option for maternity leave, confused with what was to come next.
The harsh awakening into Motherhood has been the making of me. As I tried to regather my sense of self in the midst of rolling transitions, I found a new me awakening and another me that was desperate for just one night’s sleep.
Time moved slowly and my second child came to sit on my knee. A moment of promise fulfilled, a little girl, with a smile that transfixed even the most hardened heart. Throwing myself into Motherhood, I didn’t miss much from my work life anymore, except those moments of finishing well.
The satisfaction of sitting at a table acknowledging the goal we had kicked together — those moments at the staff Christmas party where laughter overtook the spectacular failures and the sense that I was a part of something so much bigger than myself.
I have realised as the 2018 year closes on my seventh year of Motherhood, that I miss that sense of team, reflection and the finishing out of a year well.
Last week my husband and I spoke about this strange longing I had in my heart. I longed for a sense of understanding. I was looking for a moment acknowledging that another year had passed and a new day was dawning.
My husband is my north and always brings a guiding hand of wisdom with the perspective he brings into my life. He looked at me with all sincerity and said: “Babes you need to throw yourself an end of the year work party.” A moment of finishing, in the midst of a motherhood journey that seems like it is never going to end.
At that moment I realised this is what I already do. I just needed to allow myself the grace to celebrate another year of Motherhood done well.
You see; Motherhood is a deep privilege to me. I stand at the school gate, very much older than the other Mums around me. I didn’t give birth to my first child until 36 years of age. Every year until that day of promise fulfilled had been a year, where I wondered whether it was even possible.
When I was 27, I sat on my bed, desperately overwhelmed at the state of my singleness and barren womb. As I sat there in the beginnings of summer, I wrote a list of things that I wanted to do before going to heaven — Seventy-Five, random and dreamy thoughts, to bring a sense of fulfilment into this season of waiting. Of those seventy-five things, one of them was to be married and the other to give birth to a child. The other 73 things were wild, brilliant and so very stretching.
I went off on my merry way, and as Summer turned into a New Year, I started a tradition that has held me so secure in the crazy transition from being single to married, from mother into Mum of two. Each New Year I sat with the beauty of the season and asked myself a series of questions to help me let go of the old and step into the new. I have now asked myself the same series of questions for the last 15 years.
What is my character?
Who am I?
Who is my community?
What is my contribution?
Helping set a context for the year that is to come and the life that I am living that is so very ordinary and daily.
If my 42-year-old self, could saying anything to my 27-year-old self I would say this; “Thank you for taking the time to create a ritual that would hold you steady in a season of intense challenge and change.”
I realised at that moment with my husband that the party I had been looking for, was a moment of silence and reflection in a very loud life with two small children.
A couple of moments to celebrate the silent victories, those moments that no one would ever know about when I surrendered my will again and stood completely humbled in the midst of a shopping centre meltdown. Those times when I disciplined my child with kindness, to grow an amazing citizen of the world, even though saying no, was the hardest decision I have ever made.
Here is how I throw myself an end of year work party and retreat for a few hours to find perspective in the never-ending workload that is the task of a Mother.
Each New Year, I find a cafe.
Each New Year, I get a babysitter.
Each New Year, I buy myself a lovely drink.
Each New Year, I ask myself a series of questions and allow myself the space to find the answers.
Each New Year, I celebrate the wins, and I acknowledge the losses.
Each New Year, I throw myself a little end of year party by myself.
Over the years I have created this little downloadable tool, to help you have an end of year process and review. To find yourself in the midst of this season of giving endlessly to others. An opportunity as a Mother to find your vision again, within your role as a Mother but also as a daughter, an artist, a dream maker, a partner, a creator and friend.
When was the last time, you took a couple of hours to write, find vision and let go of the year that has passed?
This coming New Year season, in the aftermath of Christmas and the burgeoning promise of a new year beginning, why don’t you throw yourself an end of year party by yourself or with your closest friends and allow yourself the sheer beauty of finishing what has been a crazy but beautiful year.
Sometimes being a Mum is just hard and it’s not because you are doing anything wrong. It is one of the hardest jobs of all. And we need to take the time, to ask for what we need.
This year I am looking forward to my end of year work party of one.
How about you?
How do you celebrate the closing of another year and the awakening of another?
You are all my heroes, the Mums in the trenches, facing another spilt drink, a tantrum at the checkout and one more request for a drink at bedtime.