I feel like I have started writing this text to stress the importance of fathers, but it took a completely different turn and all I produced was just a stream of my thoughts. The text was long forgotten in the midst of moving continents. Now, months later, after having left Australia, with our perfect regime of massages, pottery, pilates, physio, paddling, yoga and golf long gone, now that I am living in a completely different socioeconomic structure, I have more to add.
I am reading Will Smith’s biography and it’s amazing. What made me stop and write a few notes though was his depiction of the first night of being a father. I know when it comes to children, mothers are mostly applauded and it’s them we talk about when the topic is “how hard it is to have children” and fathers are forgotten. I sometimes get asked whether Lukas “babysits” a lot so I can continue with all my hobbies. Yes, he spends time with his children. He also spends time playing golf and paddling. We both have time for ourselves. Perhaps the one thing that is painfully missing from our lives is the time we spend in each other’s company, uninterrupted that is. I know it will return and hopefully we will get to that point still loving each other.
Me and Josie do this bit where I pretend that she has something peculiar on her face so she has to come closer, I grab her and we roll around me ticking her and as soon as I am done, she immediately says “again mami?” I love it and I know there will be a day when instead of her coming to me with anticipation on her her cute little face, she might just roll her eyes and say not now. That’s ok because she will come back to me. Sometimes she will come to her mother, the person who will always be there for her when she will need to sort something out, when she will need help, want some home cooked food or have me do the laundry. Other times she will come to Tereza, someone, who she genuinely wants to spend quality time with because I will still have a lot to give besides being a parent. That’s where all these hobbies come in. That’s why I am still teaching yoga, that’s why I still read stacks of books, why I educate myself on the issues that are current with generation Z and actually try and understand them. That’s why every day is a new opportunity to check with myself. Am I doing this just because it’s a learned pattern of behaviour or is that the right thing to do, say and think? Can I be better, can I do better? Can I find more empathy, more softness and less judgement in life?
My recent interaction with my mum has left me feeling somewhat uncentered. “One day, I will not care what anybody thinks of me and that’s when I will find real peace.” Sometimes I feel like I am there and that’s where my mum comes in – to shatter this belief and rattle my conviction of what the future with my children will look like. “Please don’t get another tattoo’’ she said. My heart beating in my throat I answer: “I will most definitely get another tattoo and it’s up to you whether you want to be the person I share this with or hide this from.” To which she reverted: “If I suddenly start dressing as a twenty year old or gain twenty kilos, you will tell me too.” Actually mum, I don’t care what you wear and what your weight is, as long as you are healthy, which in fact is the only thing I care about. I know that what you say is not meant to be mean, it’s not meant to be vicious, in your head it comes from a place of care. How do we not see that this unnecessary criticism is not the true care? Sometimes I imagine future interactions with my kids, them telling me what they want to do, sometimes I torture myself imagining they say things I might not want to hear and I what my response might be like. “Sounds interesting, can we look into it? Can you tell me more?” I keep telling myself, I will love and support them no matter what as long as they are kind and happy. I’d like to think I know what my response will be, but only time will tell.
That’s why I am here, working on myself. When I say here I mean the space and time in life where I truly ponder over my actions, but also in this beautiful place in Byron Bay hinterland at a luxurious yoga retreat. To simply gain some space from motherhood. On one hand I feel like there’s not enough time to do all the things I want, to read the book, take the photos, journal and write this blog, on the other hand, it’s an eternity away from my family. The worst thing is that I finally have the space to be alone and free to do what I want and what I want is to debate the interior with Lukas, stare into the beautiful nature and listen to the sounds of kookaburras with him. Actually, maybe it’s not the worst thing, it’s the best, to be missing my beautiful family.
Flash forward seven or eight months into the future, from the Australian bush to the Czech Countryside. Oh boy. How can I find softness in what I want to say? I think it might not be within my writing talent. A complete and horrible generalisation would be this. Women are supposed to stay at home with their kids for three years. When I was asking about daycare for Sebastian at Josie’s private Montessori kindy, the owner said “well we don’t know this here, kids don’t get put into care so early.” Meaning there’s no support system for women wanting to go back to work even when the kid is already over a year old. Forget about going back to work, what if they just want to sit on their ass for a few hours, maybe do some gardening or like me, listen to nobody talking. The contrast to this being that once the kids turn three, they march into the public daycare system for five days a week. From what I have seen, most are not places where I would want to leave my kids in. I have not been advertising anywhere that Seby was put to daycare at eight months so I could go to a pottery studio to throw cups. Honestly I was a much better mother then.
So no support system of daycare for kids under three. The paradox of this is, that the general notion from most mothers is “overworked, tired, hating life, burned out, can the kids shutupplease and I hate my husband too” and at the same time advice from every corner of social media to “find time for yourself, take a bath, go for a run, read a book.” Right. So the system kind of forces you to be on maternity leave for three years, also paying you a monthly sum of around $800, which doesn’t get you far to be honest. If only I knew when I wrote this. Australia, I have to apologise, I knew nothing back then. The biggest joke though is that, as a mother on maternity leave, you are so uncool, which I already wrote about here. Even Lukas got so caught up in this cultural setting that I have heard him say things like “other mothers manage this and manage that”, this has been a massive source of our fights. Yes, they manage, with their ass sweating, hating life and pushing on. That’s not me. I am not a sufferer. I am the person who went on a yoga retreat while I was still breastfeeding and that doesn’t mean I don’t care for my kids as best I can. In fact, going back to what I wrote to start with, I want them to come to me because they find me a generally interesting person too and that kind of gets lost when all you do is mother. Soon they are out of the nest and what are you left with?
Recently I was talking with my cousin and I was saying how desperately me and Lukas need time alone. Going through renovation of one house and planning a renovation of another, there’s a lot to discuss. It’s difficult when you don’t have any time to do it and you get interrupted seventeen times before you get your thoughts across. When I was leaving, I said I am going back to my loves and she said suddenly they are loves. I said they never ceased to be my loves. She said, sure when they are sleeping. I left baffled without a further comment. So wanting time alone with your partner now equals not loving your kids? That opinion coming from my much younger cousin, who also is a mum. If she has this opinion how the hell do we stand a chance?
It’s ok that kids take precedence over everything else when they are little, but there’s a line I don’t want to cross. What lies on that imaginary line? Losing myself for one, starting to hate my partner for another. I do not want to cross that line in order to be the perfect mother society wants me to be. I don’t need much, just a bit of yoga, a few uninterrupted conversations, one or two eight hour sleeps a month and a bit of quiet please.
HelenaFebruary 1, 2023 at 6:51 pm
Yes. Yes. YES. To each part. My experience:
Luckily I have already get rid of most of the wtf-minded people. There is still one – best – friend (guy, but gay) who I love that much and want him in my life ❤️ but cannot share basically anything related to motherhood, because his comments hurt… Total lack of understanding.
My mom is absolutely sweet lady. But I am also used to critical comments (generally to anything). Which, as you said, she doesn’t mean in a bad way, but.. they ARE bad. I have decided to “repair” ( or “prepare”? ) it in my head and it doesn’t touch me at all, I just always tell her it’s not OK! Just to try to open her eyes at least a little bit. And ask her not to comment my kid similar way.
And the last, but most important part: having lack of time for myself. It was difficult before 3yo, but isn’t that much better after 3yo… my kid spends in the kindergarten just the time we are at work, so it doesn’t really give me ANY additional me-time. Thanks god for partial working from home. It’s time saving plus I am trying to be at least one day per week or two home alone 😳 why do I feel guilty just from admitting it? 🙂
I am trying my best to be a good mom and ( also from all the books I have read :D) I think I know how. But time (and stress) is my biggest enemy. Or is it just excuse? Lack in capacity planning? Not sufficiently used time? To be honest, in my case, that’s what I am still wondering about…
terezaFebruary 1, 2023 at 11:17 pm
First of all, thanks for commenting here, it’s like a mini celebration for me <3
I don't think I have many wtf people around me at all, definitely not in my friends' circle. Some in the family, although I had stopped seeing my grandma after she said some horrible things. Good on you for being able to keep that part of your person to yourself with your friend, him being a man and gay, he probably is quite far from understanding, if that's an excuse.
With my mum, recently she told me she got on board with our way of parenting and it was a massive breakthrough, she still says some things, but never as bad and understands more when I do say something, so that's a load of my mind as she is practically the only other person who spends time with them alone.
Aaaaw that guilty feeling! I was talking to my neighbour the other day and I needed to escape and I said I gotta go because baby is sleeping and it's the only time I can actually do something, but by something I meant sit on my ass and drink coffee 😀 It's not just an excuse, I think we need to fill our cup first before we can fill somebody else's. Good mum bad mum, we are just mums, nobody is perfect all the time. It's all a grey area. One day you manage 10/10 another you are in minus points before even getting out of bed. That's just human.
BibibabaFebruary 4, 2023 at 10:03 pm
This is so spot on with where I am at right now. I actually burnt out completely around Christmas time after trying to do it all with my first babe and moving house didn’t exactly help. Fast forward a few weeks, after revisiting my therapist, I now leave the house every day at 4pm and return for bedtime, leaving dad to enjoy his kiddo.
Funniest thing, I thought I might be returning to work for a day or two around this time (babe’s gonna be one year old soon), but now, the last thing I would wanna do, if I had this time off, would be to go get me more stressed at work!
Also some friends around us have started this competition “who’s better at parenting”, which is super alienating….Czech motherhood has its ups and downs…
terezaFebruary 11, 2023 at 2:48 am
Aaah yeah, moving with little kids, that will do that to you. I understand your burnout. What a great idea to have a little bit of time for yourself before bedtime <3 so good for their bond too. I was thinking that with my second I wouldn't want to go back to work, but now it's all I think about. I know it goes so fast, I know that nobody will give me the time back, but it doesn't stop me from wanting it anyway. It's stress, but it's different kind of stress. I don't think I would be hanging out with these friends too often 😀
BibibabaFebruary 4, 2023 at 10:04 pm
Btw, do you know this podcast? https://drsophiebrock.com/podcast
terezaFebruary 11, 2023 at 2:49 am
I will give it a go! Thanks for the tip 🙂