I was up and out of the house at 5am. Sleepy, excited and nervous to venture out alone. I lugged my bag over to the waiting taxi.
‘The station, please’
I asked the driver whether he was starting or ending his day. He told me it was the end of a long shift. The dawn light barely cracked the the sky ahead of us as we traveled east towards the station. The shining beacon of lights around a small church caught my attention then faded as we moved onwards. The station was also quiet. A mix of people waiting for the early trains up towards London gathered around the concourse. Commuters, suited and smart with wheeled suitcases looked up at the departure boards. Efficiently waiting for the platform number to flash up on the display. All around them the sleepy, unkempt end-of-the-night and homeward bound laid out across benches and each other.
And off I went, beginning the longest solo venture I had taken since becoming a mother.
So… the whole motherhood thing. It’s hard. At times damn hard. And I reach the times when I feel that I will collapse under the weight, the responsibility, the love and the day to day repetitiveness of it all. And it’s the most amazing and wonderful thing. Following and learning from these beings that teach me what it means to be human and show me the magic of the world and all around us. I adore my children.
But. I had this niggling but… when is it time to do something for me? Is this how it is? The dichotomy of love, wonder and oppressive need.
Then I’m on my way, stretching the time and distance between us to learn permaculture and sustainability on a far and foreign island. For seven days. And I learned so much more. As a home educating parent my children are with me most of the time. We wake, eat, sleep, learn, play and learn some more together. I am aware of how I meet their needs for security, for comfort and for the most basic of needs. And amongst it I try to meet my own needs too.
It was strange being alone in the world. For the first time in so long I only had myself to look after. I reveled in it. I was able to move at my own pace, to stop, to go to change my mind on a pinhead. Amazing! I felt that I had forgotten something. And it was a gift to immerse myself in permaculture for this length of time. To get up and make only one breakfast. Our meals were prepared and, staying in a hostel, I felt pampered to the point of queenliness. And all was well. I worried that my children would be ok without me. That they would cope with this minor upheaval to their steady lives.
Until I got to day four. I loved my course and delighted in the new friendships with other participants but my heart felt heavy. I felt like I was walking with a gaping hole. That I was not all that I am. And day four was long enough for my children. As we skyped I could see the struggle for them. How long would I really be away now? The first time we had used skype Maia had thought I was inside the iPhone. “But how did you get IN there mummy!?”. By now she could barely look. And my boy, looked so pale and sad it almost broke my heart. And so we had to stop with skype.
I ground down. I focused on my course. I learned and shared and spent a fabulous week with like-minded souls. But I was missing… my children, my family, a chunk of myself. I could feel the lack in all my senses.
On the way home I half ran through the airport and burst into tears to see my family again. It was really a short trip away. People had said to me ‘it’s good for you, it’s good for the kids, it toughens you up, got to do it sometime’. But it didn’t feel that way to me. Why should I put us all into a misery to toughen us up? How does that make us better people? What do we really learn? I learned so much during my time away. I learned skills, I gained knowledge and experienced much. And I learned that I need my children and family as much as they need me. That I am sustained by the weight, the responsibility, the love and the day to day repetitiveness of it all.
And I hope that my children learn through all of this that there is strength in love, in attachment and family bonds that stretch and pull and keep us close to each other. That there is value in interdependence.