At the end of last year, my path crossed with one of my old teachers from secondary school. When I told him about my latest adventure into nursing, he was unsurprised and said that I had always been “determined” as a young lady. Until that moment, I had always viewed my determination as something I had acquired since becoming a mother but apparently it was there all along. Since then, I have owned this characteristic of mine and generally, it is a wonderful trait to possess. It drives you forward & keeps you focused. However, sometimes, determination pushes you to take on the world, to push you to be the best in every aspect of your life and sometimes it becomes too much.
Little Man is currently on his Easter Holidays from Nursery and my parents have run off to Spain to soak up some sun (who can blame them?!), meaning that the first few days of the holidays were all down to me. And Solo Parenting, whilst not ideal, is something I have learned to accept. Usually, survival is the aim of the game each day but unfortunately, I also have an assignment due in May so I made a plan to try and get a little bit of Uni work done each day too. For the first couple of days, despite him not being in on my plan, Little Man did play on his own, quietly for short bursts. As a result, I actually managed to get a little bit of reading done. But because of my determination to achieve high grades, whatever work I had managed never felt enough. After Little Man had gone to bed, I sat on the sofa, looked at my diary and all I could see were the long days ahead where I knew I wouldn’t get much Uni work done. By the third day of minimal reading, I cracked. The stress I had tried to ignore, the stress that I had felt bubbling away in my tummy over the previous two days came to the surface, and it turned me into “Shouty Mummy”. No-one likes Shouty Mummy. Shouty Mummy says No, a lot. Shouty Mummy gets irritated by the 100 questions from Little Man that non-Shouty Mummy embraces as “inquisitive”. Shouty Mummy causes a Shouty Little Man. And all that shouting leads to exhaustion, one very sad Mummy and one very sad Little Man.
The next day, Little Man and I had a fun day out planned together, just the two of us. Something I had booked weeks before and had been really looking forward to. That night, the night of the Shouty Mummy, I really considered not bothering. The next morning, after a bad night’s sleep and a ridiculously early start, I was still not convinced the day out was a good idea. But then I turned over a new “Yes Mum” Card and it told me “Everything is going to be okay” and I thought, okay, let’s give this motto a go. So I did and we went. It wasn’t the best day out we’ve ever had, but we got through it and Shouty Mummy didn’t turn up, so that was great. After surviving our day out I then had to hand over Little Man to my in-laws who (along with The Husband) were looking after him for the weekend whilst I went away on a Hen Do. And that dear readers, that is the point when the Mum Guilt hit. Like a flipping lorry. I drove to Morrison’s, sat in their car park and sobbed. Sobbed because I was tired and sobbed because I truly felt like the worst Mummy in the world.
The same determination that is so productive, that keeps me glued to a library chair for hours at a time had stopped me from seeing that getting Uni work done when I was solo parenting Little Man was unrealistic. The determination that so far has rewarded me with good grades also stopped me from relaxing and enjoying my time with Little Man.
My present situation, this journey, often feels like spinning plates. My attention and time is needed in so many places and it is a real balancing act to make sure that nothing is neglected. Balance sounds great but is often hard to achieve. This fight for balance is likely to continue for the next 18 months. I am going to continue to feel pulled in lots of directions. My determination is going to make me strive to be the best Mummy, the best Wife and the best Student Nurse I can be. So many people to keep happy, so many plates to spin. But one thing that this recent experience has taught me, is that above all, my happiness is the most important plate to keep spinning.
The Hen Do I went on could not have been better timed, I switched off my social media, enjoyed quality time with some truly wonderful old friends and when Little Man and I were reunited my heart felt full to bursting. And this second week of the holidays could not have been further from the first. The Husband has used Annual Leave, commuted and worked from home all week. We have enjoyed 7 days of being a ‘normal’ family and I cannot put into words how brilliant that is. And you know what? I have hardly made a dent in my assignment this week but my goodness, I am happy.