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.