A question I ask myself every single day. To the outside world it must seem like I have it sorted.
I have 4 kids, who most of the time are great! They have their fights, squabbles and sibling rivalry. But on the whole they are 4 funny, quirky, kind little people who often seem to be my sole reason for existing. I never had an ambition in life, or a career path I wanted to travel down. I’ve never known what I wanted to do with my life or where I wanted life to take me. So, falling pregnant at 19 didn’t faze me in the slightest. Even when I knew that the relationship I was in was never going to last, that I would be raising my baby alone (with the full support of my family I must add!) I was oddly happy. Why? Because for the first time in my life I had a purpose. I was going to be someone’s mum and I knew that I had a reason to be alive. He drove me to be the best I could be. We went to mums and tots, we went swimming, we spent sunny days in the park and dark wintry days snuggled up under blankets watching movies. When he turned 2 and was due to go to nursery I went and got myself a Job. By this time we had moved out of my parents house and into a cute home of our own. Again, I was driven to provide for my boy, to keep the roof over our heads and prevent our happy little bubble from bursting. We even allowed another person in to our world and the 3 of us were mainly happy.
3 months before my son turned 4, I gave birth to his sister. Much to his disappointment! She was a definite game changer. My purpose of being mother, provider and protector seemed to grow stronger. Did she need a dad in her life that spent 4 nights a week in the pub? Did my children need the influence of a man who frittered away his money in the casino? Did I want my children to see me as a walkover, who was happy to be made to feel third best, by the man who claimed to love me? NO! So once again I found myself as a single mother. Proud and strong. Prepared to take on the world. Working daily to provide for my children. Driven by the fact that I was all they had and they relied on me and me alone.
Quickly though. I met my now husband and he changed everything I’d built in my little world. He wanted to take care of me and take on the responsibility of hunter gatherer and provide for us all. Good job really, because by the time my daughter was 3 and a half she had 2 new little brothers and my purpose changed.
I had to give up work, childcare for 4 children!? I couldn’t work enough hours to afford to pay it! So I was no longer the provider. At first it was a novelty. Someone else paying the bills, doing overtime, worrying about making ends meet. All I had to do was clean the house, get the children to school and nursery on time, take the little ones to mums and tots (swimming with 2 little boys, with a 13 month age gap, on my own was just a no go!) fill their days with love and laughter, build memories and keep our household running smoothly.
But here I am now. My babies are all grown. At 14, 11. 8 and 7 they’re all at school all day. Childcare is still an expensive luxury we can’t afford and so I find myself doing a part-time job at weekends. More suited to a teenage student than a 30- something wife and mother. During the week my mornings are spent rushing around, getting 4 disorganised little critters out of the door to school. Then once they are gone I have to try to find things to do during the nothingness that exists between 9am and 3.30pm. I clean, I do the shopping, I walk the dogs, I occasionally go for a run. I have 1 friend that can spend a morning having breakfast and browsing the shops, but that only happens dependant on her shift pattern at work. Other people who have been friends over the years are merely distant memories of people I once knew. Busy living their own lives and raising their own families.
So I have a lot of time to ponder. Wonder now what my roll is and why I am living at all. I am a cleaner, a chef, a chauffeur, a personal secretary, at times a nurse and others a referee. When I’m not tired and if the chance arises, I’m a lover. But all of those things are who and what I am for other people.
What I can’t seem to work out is who I am to me. While the past 14 years as mother have been amazing, I don’t know what it is to live an adult life where I’m not a mother. Its possible in as little as 5 years my children will begin, one by one, to spread their wings and fly the nest. And I have no idea who I will be then or what I will do with my days. I have never had a career and I feel it’s too late to begin to have one. I’m a lost soul in a big world. Man, that’s scary.