Last night I watched the documentary 'De werkende mens' [The human being at work] on Canvas and, all of a sudden, another piece of the puzzle was handed to me. A female theatre practitioner was interviewed about her decision to become a stay at home mother. She explained how she felt she couldn't act as well as she did before she became a mother. Her theatre job demanded something of her inner self that she couldn't tap into as fully anymore, because she also had to intentionally commit herself to parenting. What struck me most, besides her story that I could immediately relate to, was that the interview was taped somewhere in the sixties: it could have easily been yesterday.

Pondering on the subject, I also recalled the brilliant documentary 'Lost In Living'. The arts and motherhood somehow combine, but the match doesn't come naturally. I don't actually think of myself as an artist, but I do have a so-called creative profession. Writing, as well as editing to some extent, requires a certain state of mind. Being a mindful parent requires the same thing. And unfortunately, they don't go well together - or at least, that is my experience.
My clients are satisfied and the bills are getting paid. My boys are happy little fellows. On paper the combination is working, but in reality the combination isn't working for me. To be forced to divide my attention, leaves me with the feeling of constantly running behind and falling short, in particular when it comes to my children. When they come home after school, I'm physically there, but my mind is at work. I don't have an office to leave behind: my work is continuously popping up on my iPhone and the end of a work day is never in sight. Of course I understand this is all part of freelance etiquette and that's fine by me. However, the combination is far trickier than it looks. Throw in the lack of after school care and trickier turns into trickiest.

The last months I have been going back to the time when I was happy - not these current, tiny sparks of happiness, but utterly happy - as if the missing pieces of the puzzle are hiding in the past. I presumed that my happiness had to do with the fact that cancer was absent and nothing seemed to stand in our way. I now see that it was about simplicity and freedom of choice. I was a stay at home mother, who was able to give her complete attention to her children. And my two babies made me so incredibly happy, I didn't miss my working life one bit.
Life has become more complicated and with that, choices have been made for me. Work is a necessity and will continue to be. Hoping for or wanting that to change, is nothing but setting myself up for disaster. What I did discover last night, was that I should set my priorities straighter and allow myself to give in to them, instead of being left with this nagging little voice that states "I'm doing nothing right". Show up at presentations at school. Carve out more Lego time. And acknowledge the pressure my work brings about. Apparently it's tricky for me. I never once claimed I was there yet.


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