What’s been messing with my mojo?!

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Yes, I am! Yes, Iam!

I’m feeling rather pleased with myself after launching this Blog last week, but I’ll let you into a secret…it was supposed to happen about 6 weeks ago! It was deeply frustrating to me that I just couldn’t seem to make it happen when I planned. There were a number of excuses reasons for this failure to implement: my eldest is in Year 10 and was doing some important exams, needing a lot of support and help with revision. My other two children seemed hardly to be at school – in the 3 months from the beginning of March to the end of May there were only 7 weeks where they spent 5 days there. I found that really hard to manage. And my two girls both had birthdays, therefore expectations, therefore parties (need I say more!) Added to that we are doing a lot of work on our house this year; spring was bathrooms so we’ve been toilet-challenged and under a permanent layer of dust for 3 months.

So, we had a lot going on, that seems to be a fact of modern-day family life, but I have never before felt the same degree of inertia, like I just wasn’t moving forward on anything. And I’m afraid to say that my frustration made me somewhat irritable at times, as well as feeling like I was under-achieving on all fronts. Not very Zen.

I’ve picked up similar feelings from a lot of other women recently, including those without children. People have been talking about negative energy and general discombobulation. Is it the alignment of the planets, or even something as prosaic as the weather? Wet, dry, sticky, cool, we just don’t know where we are!

Naturally, I turned to books for a bit of help. The Confident Mother by Sherry Bevan is a quick and easy read and something you will want to go back to. It certainly helped me to accept myself as “good enough” as a mother, partner and general citizen, when I was feeling a bit low. Years ago, when my eldest was about 2 years old I bought a book called Having it All? Choices for today’s superwoman by Paula Nicholson. I didn’t even have time to finish it, that’s how super I was! Never picked it up again. Too depressing. Sherry Bevan is a bit more my cup of tea. Good enough is good enough.

I also read Shattered: modern motherhood and the illusion of equality by Rebecca Asher. If you’re a bit more politically inclined and want to knock your partner into shape then this could be the book for you. I found it a little too angry for my taste, and a bit long, if I’m honest, but if you’re into studying this kind of thing, it could be worth a read.

Read more about both these books below.

I am reassured by people, better informed than I about this kind of thing, that change is in the air. Certainly, looking at the calendar, there are a lot more white spaces available for writing, reading, work and play, and as I write this, the rain has stopped and the sun is shining.  I look forward to restoration of my mojo in the coming weeks and will keep you posted!

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The Confident Mother by Sherry Bevan

Sherry Bevan is a business confidence coach and mentor who specialises in supporting women with children starting or running their own businesses. In her work she tackles head-on the challenges women face in pursuing their vocation alongside being a mother. Unlike Rebecca Asher in Shattered, who looks at the legal, structural and cultural factors which inhibit women’s progression, Sherry looks at the emotional and confidence issues. In that sense this is more of a practical work-through book, than a campaigning book to make you angry, like Rebecca Asher’s.

Sherry organised the Confident Mother Conference in January 2015 and this book brings together the interviews from that conference. These include parenting ‘experts’, business women, wellbeing and nutritional experts and other mothers who have been through the sorts of parenting challenges that most of us do not face. Each chapter represents a separate interview. At first, I did not like this structure; I was hoping for a bit more analysis and it seemed a little contrived. But the style grew on me as the chapters became more interesting and relevant. The style also means that you can skip chapters you may not want to read without it affecting your overall appreciation of the book.

Continue reading “What’s been messing with my mojo?!”

Blog no. 1 – Hello there!

So, my very first post, on my very new blog. Hello world!

I suspect this will land with a ‘pop’ rather than a ‘bang’, but hey-ho, that is in the nature of these things.

It is apt that my inaugural post should be about two books I read recently on the theme of family, books and family being what this blog is about. Specifically, these books are about family dynamics and how they change as children grow up and parents age. Both books deal with a widowed elderly parent and the various crises, reflections and disappointments of their adult children. I was reading them simultaneously: the first, Anne Enright’s Man Booker Prize winning The Green Road, I picked up whilst browsing in my local library. I was already halfway through this when I realised that my book club was a week earlier than I was mentally prepared for, so I had to work through that month’s book, Marina Lewycka’s A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian, in the margins of a busy weekend. Fortunately, it’s the kind of book you can read quickly.

What is also interesting to me is that I read both these books just prior to my middle child’s recent 12th birthday (my eldest being 15). In recent years I have found that my children’s birthdays, rather like my own, have triggered emotional reflections on the ageing process (mine not theirs!). I am evolving out of that heady, busy, bustling, noisy, joyously grubby and very physical maelstrom characteristic of life with small children and on my horizon is a time when my kids will be young adults. That means I will no longer have control over what they’re putting into their bodies, I won’t be able to choose who their friends are and they will decide for themselves where they want to be in the world and how far away that is from home. And, most challenging for me, I will no longer have the power to make them happy, with a hug or a game or an ice lolly or a chat. That is only partly what these books are about (more so in Enright), but it’s what they made me think about.

How do you feel about your children growing up? Is there anything you’ve read recently that helps you to think about it?

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The Green Road by Anne Enright

This is the first book by Enright that I have finished; I rarely fail to complete a book, but I gave up on both The Wig My Father Wore and The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch. There was something about the way both these books were written that simply failed to engage me. It wasn’t so much that I found the language difficult, more that I felt it lacked coherence. Both of these are much earlier works, however, and in this book her writing style has certainly matured.

The green road of this book’s title is a real road in County Clare in Ireland. In the novel it represents the powerful sense of belonging to a place that all of the characters possess, not entirely happily. Rosaleen Madigan is the central matriarchal figure, a woman who married for love to a man whom it seems was her social inferior, a fact that she at times at least, seems to regret. She appears to have spent much of her middle years, when her children were growing up, ailing in bed, and only at the end of the novel, when she is an elderly woman does ‘the green road’ take her on a journey where she is confronted with the sensual memory of her love for her late husband and what he stood for.

Continue reading “Blog no. 1 – Hello there!”