As a former teacher I learnt very quickly that the best teachers never stop learning! I am also learning that becoming a mum means whatever you want it to mean. This is my own mum story so far which, despite starting at an early age, has only really just begun. I hope it can encourage you, wherever you are at on your mum journey.
As a little girl my Mum and Dad always wanted me to have fun, be creative and live life to the full. Together they taught me the joy of being a child, teaching me how to see God in whatever I did and said, and also how to listen for His voice. We would enjoy hours of creative time together exploring, learning and being child- like together.
But a few years on family life changed dramatically as my mum started to have a nervous breakdown, and suddenly life became a lesson in survival. The singing, writing and art times that we had enjoyed together became the tools and vehicles I used to deal with the emotions and struggles of family life, and when my brother came along I passed these techniques on to him.
Pretty soon every day became a question of ‘whatever’. My family remained the same in Spirit, child-like and faithful; but mentally, physically and emotionally we were broken and disjointed. When Mum eventually left to go into a psychiatric ward, ‘whatever’ took on a new role and so did I.
Whatever life threw at me I learnt how to deal with it with my increasingly large armoury of skills and emotional intelligences. Day in and day out I would have no idea what the day would bring and so I would do what I could to bring stability and security to my family. It was exhausting.
As an adult and at university, ‘whatever’ became a freedom and exploration process. Suddenly anything was possible and without the unpredictability of my family circumstances I found I could create my own security. But I could never shake the overwhelming need to be needed. I searched for people who needed support and encouragement and was never happier than when I was helping someone through their own situation.
After university I moved back home and life became unpredictable again, but now I had experienced another kind of life so my situation seemed much more painful. I taught myself that the only way to stop life from being unpredictable was to control every element of it. Within a few years I was exhausted and felt an utter failure.
It was at this time that I came to a point where I was forced to accept the spiritual path of ‘whatever’. I found this place to be a hiding place and a pool of peace. My faith in God made ‘whatever’ feel safe and secure. I didn’t have to be in control, I just had to accept that God was.
Meeting my husband later on in life meant that ‘whatever’ became an unconditional love and mutual understanding, and then it took on a whole new meaning again when I became a youth and children’s worker. I learnt that this kind of whatever meant “I don’t care” and was often coupled with the incredibly unhelpful “Am I bothered?” (the irony of these phrases are that they often come from young people that are actually incredibly bothered by everything!)
Within this role I quickly realised that many of the young people I spoke to were involved with emotionally and physically supporting their families the way I did as a child. I suddenly found I had a whole group of children and young people who felt supported and cared for by me. I created a project called ‘Raise’ which to this day supports children and young people by raising their self- esteem and confidence, with a particular focus on young carers.
And now I have a little boy. Now ‘whatever’ means allowing life to ebb and flow around us. He teaches me how to live in peace on a daily basis. We can do and not do as we please and this makes us happy. I believe all that has gone before has brought me to this place. I still feel the need to be in control but now it feels like a choice and not a necessity.
My son’s middle name is Elijah, and in the Bible Elijah was provided for by ravens (1 Kings 17:4). My maiden name is Raven, and I believe that despite the varying circumstances they find themselves in, my family will always be provided for. I am free to lead my son to be creative and child-like, and my prayer is that he never has to use them to ward off challenges and unpredictability as I did.
Thank you for taking the time to join me for my memorable moment of mum. Enjoy finding out more about all those other amazing mums and their “whatever” journeys.
You’re doing a great job, don’t let anyone tell you any differently.