In August of 2017 I relocated to Dubai with my new husband and my two children, Ryan 10 and Juliette 7. It was a huge decision. They were moving far from their friends, family, country and a sweet little village school in rural Warwickshire. Their Father, who they were used to seeing weekly, would now see them monthly. Their education became the remit of a large private school in the middle of the desert.
The potential psychological implications for the children did not pass me by. In that one move I was creating ‘Third Culture Kids’ (as described beautifully in the book by the same title written by David Pollack and Ruth Van Reken) with all the complexity and advantages that goes with that.
As parents, it goes without saying that we have responsibility for the experience of our children. But who are we to know or predict how their experience will affect them? As I grappled with this, it dawned on me that what I need to take responsibly for is how I live in the world with the decisions I make and what that teaches my children in an ever changing, complex, beautiful, perfectly imperfect world.
If I had a £/dirham or dollar for every mother who’s told me that having children was the best and most challenging thing they’ve ever done, I’d be a very wealthy woman. There is little doubt that we love our children with an intensity greater than anything we’ve ever experienced before. But the number of loving, caring, competent Mothers I’ve talked to whose lives are simply not fulfilled by the role of motherhood alone grows longer by the day.
What to do? Our role as parents is perhaps one of the most important we will ever play. How do we juggle the day-to-day responsibilities of this role with fulfilling our life’s dreams and ambitions? How as mothers do we fully embrace our experience as women? How do we get off the hamster wheel of exhaustion trying to be all things to everyone except ourselves?
There is little doubt that 10 years ago, when I realized things weren’t ‘quite right’ in my otherwise perfect life, I was suffering from what I now describe as a sick soul. I began a journey of self-discovery to answer the question ‘what within me seek expression?’ I couldn’t articulate that question to myself at the time, but I recall how it felt. I was seeking something and I didn’t know what it was. It was a strange, empty, bewildering feeling. Like I was searching for the answer to a question, but I didn’t know what the question was.
I’d be lying if I told you I haven’t struggled to balance my single motherhood for 7 years with my desire to create a business in service to others. What I can tell you without a shadow of a doubt is that some things are worth struggling for. I realized somewhere along the way that part of my mission in this lifetime is to help women like me struggle less. It’s hard to place a job title on that, but that’s not my fault. Many of us are destined to invent ways of generating abundance for ourselves and our families that haven’t been invented yet. I found this realization to be the perfect antidote for a sick soul. Who can I be of service to and how? How does being in service in this way feed my soul and fulfill me as a person; as a woman?
That’s certainly the way the children’s school view their role: to prepare my little ones for a world in the future that we have no current comprehension of. To create skilled and emotionally intelligent human beings who can cope with the extraordinary pace of change with grace and ease.
As is always the case when we get curious and ask better quality questions, we are rewarded with better quality answers. I recently decided to embark on a year-long personal development experience. One of the reasons to make the sizeable investment in myself is to write my debut book on the subject of profound personal change. I could have hidden under the metaphorical bedclothes of not being able to commit because ‘I want to be there for my children’. No one is going to argue with that. But hey, guess what? I am! Every day after school and all weekend long. I could find other ways to fill the school day, but I’d know I was selling out on myself: I recognize those creeping symptoms of a sick soul quicker than ever these days!
The insight that clinched this decision for me came in the form of a quote that stopped me in my tracks:
Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on a child that the unlived life of the parent.
Enough said. I’m signing up to living my life and being a great Mum.
What are you signing up for? Let me know in the comments below or via the contact page.