Have space in your togetherness
For those who know me or follow me on social media you may have seen I’ve been on a few adventures in April (without the kids!).
First there was a work rewards trip to Sanya in China and then to the UK via Singapore for my cousin’s wedding.
It has been nice to take some time out for me and have quality time with family and friends without the distraction of kids and for my husband Owain to have some quality time with our little boys Ethan and Huw.
I’ve found it interesting to see how this situation is viewed by our network. Responses range from “Good for you, enjoy the well deserved time out”, “Don’t feel guilty” to “ I feel bad for Owain”, “Will the boys remember you” and “You’re away again??”.
Not judging these comments as everyone’s entitled to their opinion but it was interesting to reflect…
Did I feel bad for Owain? Not really. He’s a highly capable world champion athlete who is more organised than me. He would have had the household like clockwork. I feel empathy however as I know single parenting can be hard and it has a lot of logistics. It was nice to relieve him when I got back, especially as he’d come down with a virus, 10 days straight with the kids will do that!
Will the boys remember me? I should hope so after seeing them almost everyday of their lives so far 😀 With messenger chats it was easy to keep in touch when overseas and Ethan was counting the sleeps until I came home. I thought it was good for them to see me with their other family and having new experiences.
Did I feel guilty for leaving our boys with Owain? Hell no- he’s their dad! He’s not babysitting, he’s their father. Of course I missed them when away but I do think it’s good for them to have some time together when the boys can be attached to mummy. For example, I loved seeing these pictures from an Easter breakfast he went to whilst I was away.
When Owain went away for a similar period last year for a wedding and a race later on in the year no one commented on anything, funny the stereotypes which are still embedded in society.
Watching the movie “On the basis of sex” recently it made me reflect on how unfair society can be to women and that we all need to call it when we see opportunities to. I think it’s great to see movements like equal pay to champion equal pay for equal roles regardless of gender.
Being a working mum who also competes in triathlon is tough, it takes commitment, patience, selflessness and resilience. It’s also incredibly rewarding and I wouldn’t change it (on a good day!). However, I definitely think mums (and dads / partners) all deserve some time out.
Chemmy Alcott the former Olympic skier has a refreshing podcast sharing her journey with motherhood and life with two little ones https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/chemmys-chair-lift-chats/id1445155023
Some quotes from a recent interview with Chemmy which say it well – “Of course, we do have a wonderful life together. We share a passion for skiing and know how lucky we are to have two beautiful, healthy sons, and I’m totally fulfilled by my kids. But I’m happy to admit I’ve found motherhood is 100% tougher than skiing!” says Alcott.
“When you’re skiing or an athlete, it’s all about you – your aim is to make yourself stronger, faster, and reach your goals. It’s a very selfish existence. But when you’re a mother, it’s all about the responsibility of someone else who’s completely unknown to the world, so fragile, so new. It’s really challenging, scary and lovely all at the same time.”
“Dougie and I totally co-parent, he’s devoted and hands-on. But I was on my own with the boys – Cooper was only three weeks – when he had to go away on a job. Lockie was teething, Cooper was struggling to feed as he had tongue tie, I was exhausted and almost at breaking point, and it’s the first time in my life that I reached out and said, ‘I need help’,” recalls Alcott. “I even went on Facebook and asked, ‘Can anyone hold a baby for a couple of hours!’
“I don’t want to come across like this perfect celebrity mum, who snapped back into shape instantly and took coping with two little ones in my stride,” she adds. “Just like any other mum, as well as experiencing the amazing highs at a few points, at others I’ve relied on TV to entertain the two-year-old and reached for the biscuits to give me fast energy.
“Dealing with an energetic toddler and a new baby and a career is full-on. It can be just as fun and also as scary, exciting and demanding as any ski challenge.”
My aim for writing this post is that even if it just inspires one other mother to not give up on her own goals and take some well deserved time away it will be worth it. You deserve it and your other half will survive!
Keeping a sense of our own identity is important, especially as our children will one day not be dependent on us.
Now back to reality with refereeing two energetic boys and Huw’s terrible two tantrums. Remembering to breathe, be grateful and smell the roses. Optimism is a daily spiritual practice and happiness a choice as Shawn Achor shares in this Oprah Supersoul conversation exploring “The Life Altering Power of a Positive Mind”.
Our next adventure (this time as a family) is up to beautiful Port Macquarie next weekend to cheer Owain on in the 70.3 triathlon and friends on in the Ironman and to celebrate Ethan turning 4 (how that time has flown!).
To finish, I’ll end with a piece of marriage advice my Grandma gave to my little sister recently who is getting married in August which seems to theme well with this post:
“Have space in your togetherness”.
Having celebrated their Ruby wedding anniversary before my Grandpa passed away there must be something in this 🙂