This year I am pleased to have become one of the contributors to a beautiful online parenting magazine, Raising Mothers. I first discovered Raising Mothers last year, through a friend who would often retweet posts. I’d find myself nodding along as I read these literary essays, and/or learning more about parenting through the lens of a diverse group of women with one thing in common: All are excellent writers, whose essays I save up and read when I want to feel emotionally ‘full’.

While it is a literary magazine for mothers, by mother writers, Raising Mothers is specifically about, as the name suggests, raising us as mothers (rather than raising our children), with a focus on sharing the collective voices of women of colour. So when I saw that Founding Editor Sherisa was seeking new writers for 2016,  I decide to get on board. Luckily, she welcomed me with open arms!

My first essay focuses on the theme of self-care, which is different for everyone. This piece touches on my morning routine, imperfect parenting (of course!) and my writing practice. It’s a departure from my usual blogging style here, and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Before Birdsong

Before Birdsong

It’s 5.30am and I’m at my desk. If you had told me five years ago I’d willingly get up before 6am I would have struggled to believe you but here I am.

The birds are not yet singing but if I listen very carefully I can hear the distant hum of other early risers. Mostly cars already on their way to work. Not on our street though. Before 6am when my husband wakes up, it’s just me and the silence, until I fire up my laptop and add the tap of the keyboard to my morning music.
I sit for a moment, soaking up the silence. I reflect on the previous day, or week. Sometimes I allow myself to get caught up in an unhelpful train of thought but I usually leave that for the evening after a long day. In the morning I am kinder to myself. Today I am thinking about how I mothered in anger yesterday morning, storming off and refusing to listen to the reasons behind my four-year old’s challenging behaviour. Excuses I called them, and sent him away.

I reflect that the behavior needed addressing but wish I gave another response. That was yesterday though. That afternoon I listened and empathized and he felt heard. His behaviour that evening then reflected this and we were all much calmer.

Today is a new day.

I’ve only been sitting down for a few minutes and I notice how much my mind jumps around. I’m not a morning person and up until recently, I couldn’t rise even if I tried. I had regular wake up calls at around 2am, being up for the day at 5am most days. I used to wonder if we’d ever sleep through the night again. We do now. I think, this too shall pass, as I navigate his recently heightened anxiety, as I hope it is only temporary, as I remind myself to focus on the roots of the challenges and not react. This sensitivity will be a strength as he matures.

So much has changed this past year for us both. I am lucky I do work that I love every day. Sometimes doing what you love can still feel like work. A lot of work. It’s worth it. I was raised to always be the best, which I took to mean everything must be perfect. It took a while to let go of that one (and I’m still working on it) but a strong work ethic is not a bad thing to have when you work for yourself. My mum always said, “I just want you to be happy. You must do what makes you happy.” I suppose there is balance between those two messages and I am closer to the middle now, more than I ever have been… Read the rest over at Raising Mothers.