To the working mum I once was, I want to let you know that I am thinking about you today.
It’s 9 O’clock in the morning and while I am sitting here at the dining table alone, along with the dishes from this morning’s breakfast and two glasses from last night’s dinner, I think about you in your awesome work space.
The moments where you woke up at 6am, ate breakfast, prepared for work, and kissed your little girl goodbye before heading out. You had your smokey eye and plum lips on to match your power outfit, strutting in those high heeled shoes, just because you could. You had colleagues to talk to about the day before and the day ahead – pure adult conversation. You thought of ways to further the career that you’ve always wanted and turned them into a reality.
You didn’t need to clean the house yourself because you could pay somebody to do it for you. Dishes, done. Laundry, done. Bathroom, thank goodness – it’s done! You had financial freedom and pulled your own weight with providing support for your family. What does self-worth feel like again? I think I’ve already forgotten.
While I am sitting here lost in my thoughts and struggling to synchronise the hundreds of things inside my head with the words on this letter, I think of how you executed your carefully constructed daily plan with ease, leaving the people around you in awe of your wit and grit. People knew they could count on you and that you would always deliver.
Your life seemed perfect. I do miss you, you know. Can I be you again?
But then, I look up and see the chaos that is the bedroom and remember the people who slept there last night. I remember how our husband reached out in the middle of the night just to stroke my arm. I remember how our daughter went from her own bed up to where I was and hugged me until it was morning. I remember how I felt when I saw them both still asleep, while I got up with a sense of belonging and of renewed purpose.
I may be thinking about you today, but I also remember how I used to dream about the mum I would wanted to become.
I used to long for slow and quiet mornings where I didn't have to worry about the clothes that I’m wearing or the scent I’m giving off. I remember how I ached for uninterrupted time, void of phone calls, emails and texts that were likely to take up the rest of the night and sometimes up until morning.
I was haunted by anxiety attacks brought about by years of the so-called “work-life balance”. I craved to know every little event on my daughter’s life and reliving it when I’m putting her to sleep. I used to dream of raising a family that I can take care of, not just from afar amid all the office work, but with my own hands.
I have now occasionally surprised my family with how hard I worked on cleaning the house. I tell you, that “wow” is one of the sweetest words I’ve ever heard. Instead of impressing people in the workplace with my presentations, I now impress the people that matter to me the most with my cooking skills. The manual work is a welcome change to heal my mentally drained self. Who knew scrubbing, sweeping and cleaning can be so therapeutic?
I now see how happy my kid is when she and I do crafts. Those hands-on experiences that help boost her creativity and self confidence; I am witnessing it, I am part of it. She sees me with the chores and questions from her like “can I help you wash the dishes?” or “can I be the one to put the clothes in the washer?” hit you right in the heart and make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
I am there for the silly moments at 9 in the morning where she dances and sings one line of a song repeatedly and eventually realises what an ear-worm is. I am available to talk to her about the sadness she feels as they happen. I am there to hug her and kiss her more. I feel we’ve gotten to know each other better.
Maybe I will be a version of you again one day. But for now, we did it girl! The perfectly imperfect life I have now is more than what I want, it’s what I need and deserve.
When my daughter started daycare, I spent a lot of time trying to find the right fit for her and our family. I did a lot of research and asked a lot of questions. Over and over again though, the answer to my question would come back the same, "she'll be fine."