23 Sep I see you, Mama
It’s funny how the pandemic has changed the way we see ourselves.. and how we see each other.
I notice this, especially when it comes to the way we work… whether we work in the home or outside or the home.
There is this myth we perpetuate that being busy to the point of burnout means being productive.
I’ve always worked a lot. Too much. I know this.
I’ve so often been told to “slow down” for five years since starting Mamas while working full time as a trauma counsellor and raising two little boys under 5.
It’s not that I didn’t want to; I just didn’t have the chance.
Or so I thought.
Finally, I started to look after myself and my boys as much as I’ve looked after Mamas for Mamas. I was horrified to realize how much I’ve missed of my kid’s lives when I finally started to live in the moment with them…
To be fair, there is no way I would have ever chosen to have worked from home or shifted from a community-based role to a computer-based one. I simply didn’t even consider the option. I’m pretty sure that I never would have if the entire world hadn’t all slowed down with me.
The public engagement and connection piece of our work was not only the way we shared our message but was part of the fuel that kept us all going.
It was really difficult to shift our model so dramatically, basically overnight. It all of a sudden felt like so much of what we do every day had become invisible, an ode to the experience of our clients. Invisibility is the curse of our mamas who face poverty-related discrimination daily. Invisible, not by choice, but because it’s easier for others when they cannot see her pain.
I see you, Mama.
Now that we’re all working mostly behind the scenes, things look different. No less passion or hard work; let’s clarify that right away. However, we have also learned to find a new balance. As mamas suddenly working from home, we didn’t have much of a choice… And sometimes that is not a bad thing.
As hard as it has been, I’m grateful for the change. I needed it… and I know I’m not the only one.
It’s an ongoing internal battle to be ‘good enough’ as a Mama, let alone being ‘good enough’ for those who have come to count on you as Big Mama in a world where nothing is certain anymore… and organizations and companies left and right are falling apart.
Am I scared? Hell yes. Terrified of not being enough.
Are we going to let anything ever close the doors on our Mamas? Hell no.
Not on my watch.
I feel the need to put this into writing not just for my own justification that somehow I still feel the need to justify, but for anyone (and I know there are many) who identifies with this perpetual feeling of falling short. Even though we are not… and we need to change this narrative… like, yesterday.
Because guess what, Mama?
You Are Enough.
So, this year, we were all forced to slow down. To re-evaluate our priorities. To get creative with our work-life balance (if “balance” is anything more than an elusive unicorn dream anyway). And while I do not appreciate the reason behind the slowdown, I have come to honour the resulting new found time with family and the need to just hang out in my redefined bubble, with my chosen family and find the time to continue to do the important work through different venues and on different timelines. Zoom calls with toddlers on the lap is the new normal!
In times such as these, all I can say is assume the best of those around you. Your partner, your children, your colleagues, your friends… everyone. All behaviour makes sense, especially to the person exhibiting that behaviour and experiencing the intense emotions that lie behind it.
We’re all fighting visible and, more often, invisible struggles that nobody else will ever know about.
Be the one who offers a hand up, not an unrequested and often misguided opinion. My late father told me this often.
We should only ever give advice in 2 situations:
1. When it is asked for and
2. When it is life or death.
Otherwise, remain curious and ask how you can help.
When in doubt. Be kind.
What a strange world of “pic or it didn’t happen” has such a powerful meaning for those of us who work tirelessly behind the scenes to be the change we need to see in the world. It is a toddler mentality of if I close my eyes, you can’t see me!
To all mamas doing the invisible work.
I see you.