City Girl Needs Wellies

Beyond Harry Potter…

I love being a Mum. I have three children who are brilliant, beautiful, funny and delicious. At least five times a day, I almost lose my breath just looking at them, so taken by surprise am I by their perfect little humaness and ‘of-me-ness.’ Privileged doesn’t even begin to cover how I feel to have been able to have spent so much of their lives with them – being there for first laughs, first words, first steps, first day at pre-school, first day at school and everything in between. But gosh, I haven’t found the last 5 years easy. Not at all!

I am sure that everyone finds parenting hard – it is a crazy responsibility after all (You’re not supposed to operate machinery when drowsy, but be responsible for actual real life tiny humans when chronically sleep deprived? Go for it!), but some people make it look easier than others. And I know a whole host of people who are perfectly capable of managing their family alongside grown up world responsibilities – people who can achieve inside and outside the home. I am not one of those people. I am quite sure that no one looks at me trying to get my little posse from a to b, and comments ‘hey darling, let’s have 3 kids. Doesn’t it look easy and not to mention FUN!’ Oh no.

Except in pictures – then I’m quite good at making it look  easy and FUN.

Over the last (one week less than) 5 years, I have done very little other than parent. I can’t remember when I last read something that wasn’t Harry Potter (for the 17th time). I’ve just been too tired. I’ve tried to get involved with things, take on projects, work freelance, volunteer and some of it has gone ok  but mostly it’s just been really hard to keep up, and I’ve dropped the ball. In some ways I don’t think this is the end of the world. People more capable than me have been able to help pick up the pieces or I’ve managed to cobble something together. I’m able to contribute to conversations based on the snippets of news I’ve caught or things I read pre-children. But it’s had a fairly heavy impact on how I feel about myself , on how I define myself.

I  feel like I’ve been going through some second phase puberty. My hormones have raged, sometimes out of control (PND was beaten with time and drugs), I’m coming to terms with a very different shaped and feeling body, and it’s almost  like I don’t know who I am anymore.

Pre-tinies, so much of my identity was wrapped up with what I did. I worked hard. I did a good job. I achieved goals. I was invited to do fun things. People thanked me for what I did, congratulated me on being good at it, encouraged my potential, helped me dream big dreams and I thrived. Now, ‘achievement’ feels elusive and I’m too tired to dream.

Last week I missed out on meeting with a bunch of women leaders who were gathering to start/continue a conversation on gender, leadership and more. I was so pleased to have been invited. I’d thought that maybe after baby 3 I was on the shelf. I’d thought that because I’d stepped down from a bunch of things just before having Ro, no one was ever going to ask me to step up again.  Yet here it was – this precious, precious invite – validating me. Look at the amazing other women invited! I could be like them for the day! And then the sickness came. The last couple of months have been full on and my body had had enough. I was very sick and I slept and slept. And I couldn’t go to London. I cried. That’s me back on the shelf. There I go letting people down again. I am never going to be anything other than a Mummy ever again. I was gutted to my core.

But a week on, I have realised some things. They are these.

1) I need to not say yes to things that put me under more pressure than I can take – no matter how important they are going to make me feel. Going to London, a week after moving from London, a few weeks into a new job, on the same day as I’ve committed to leading an event my Mother-in-law has organised, when it’s the first free day I can explore my new home with my husband and children, who are also dealing with the upheaval of a move….. Even without sickness it would have been a push. And had I said no, I would have been sad to not be there but I wouldn’t have had to deal with the awful sense of letting people down – again.

2) 32 is not the end of the road (I know! Of course it’s not! Idiot.). I have got a lot of life left, and plenty of time to achieve and dream.

3) It’s time to get past Harry Potter. I need to push myself, stretch myself. Read, write, think. I want to have a voice but right now, I don’t really know what I want to say. If I’m ever again given the opportunity to speak, I want to have something to say!

4)  I need be ok with not being the kind of woman that I think I should be. I know an extraordinary number of extraordinary women. This is a privilege. I am going to choose to allow these women inspire me rather than make me feel bad about myself.

I’m still figuring this out. I don’t know how to fix this question of ‘identity.’ I do know that I love my life. I love my tinies. Injustice pains me. Seeing young women fulfil their potential excites me. I will muddle through to find a balance and find out what I’m for!

This entry was published on March 16, 2012 at 10:17 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

12 thoughts on “Beyond Harry Potter…

  1. You are a gift to us all, Joanna – you crackle and fizz with the image of God, brimming with fresh potential and opportunities. I have a sneeking suspicion that this explosion of thoughts, of pain, of vulnerability that you’ve expressed is part of something that will end up being incredibly formational for you over this next chapter of your life. I say that as one who has gone through times of disorientation and reorientation myself over the past 8 years. I don’t know how you feel, but I know I got through this and found my experiences helped to shape me in ways I didn’t think were possible.
    Right now is disorientation-city… pain, hopes, fears, worries, dreams… they all meet here. We don’t trivialise them, we don’t say it’s ok… Right now… it’s NOT ok… and yet…
    Jesus burst from the tomb.
    New creation, liberation, resurrection, hope… It’s for you Joanna. It’s there. Yours.

    May you know that it will be ok, my friend.

    May you truly know deep within your heart that God is amongst this with you, in this alongside you, weeping when you weep, longing to lavish his love and grace on you in ways you’ve never even imagined. May what you’ve gone through be used by God in such a way that brings hope and healing and freedom and resurrection not just to yourself but to all those women (and men!) that he has called you to inspire and serve. I look forward to seeing what happens in and through you Jo.

    You are a gift.
    to all of us.

  2. Oh my word, I am so *so* glad you are blogging. What beautiful sentences and courageous honesty. I can’t wait to keep reading.

    • jojot on said:

      Thank you. I think I have definitely decided that honesty is the best policy – this blog post has been so freeing for me and the response has been amazing. I’m encouraged to blog on, for now at least!

  3. What I know is this, you are much more than a Mummy, although you are currently doing the most important job in the world, and very capably laying the foundations in 3 little lives to build character, strength & self belief. You will see in them your passions develop as you model them to your children. Raising children and standing up for the things that set your heart on fire do not have to live in 2 seperate worlds! Furthermore, I have evidence that you can and do partake in very engaging, thought provoking, adult conversation! We love you for being you Jo! X

    • jojot on said:

      Thanks Ria. I do really feel like that – that if I can influence my tinies, that’ll do! Look forward to more conversation at our very grown up Steps concert!

  4. Ruth W on said:

    Jo, thanks for your beautiful and poignant post. I echo what others have said- you’re super brilliant and I have always looked up to you and continue to do so. I resonate with so much of what you have written. I often think ‘I’m not a leader because at the moment I don’t lead much’ but I’m coming to realise leadership is a gifting not just a role. You are an inspiring gifted leader and I think hearing your painfully honest voice is prophetic and needed to many around you. Keep writing – and in all honesty Harry Potter is much more meaningful than my equivalent trashy crime thrillers!

    • jojot on said:

      You absolutely lead! Consider me one of those massively influenced by you. Thanks for your encouragement. I really really want to hang out soon!

  5. Raych on said:

    Amazing!A true echo of my current thoughts!I wish I was brave enough to voice all mine!Look after yourself and those lovely kids.You are brilliant!Xx

  6. Love it…and empathise massively (well, as much as a bloke with only one gorgeous little girl to worry about can!)…

    Look forward to carrying on reading,

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