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Mum’s the Word – Reflecting on another year of parenting

By Taryn Dryfhout

The past fortnight in this study mummy’s house has brought about a new experience. While we are used to dealing with my health issues and overwhelming workload, this time it’s my husband – he is broken. No, I don’t mean melancholic, I mean physically broken. In a bizarre series of events at work, he fell from a roof, bounced off some scaffolding and cracked his ribs in the process.

Having a husband home with broken bones is a little akin to caring for someone with man flu. Apparently, having broken ribs is more painful than childbirth (though I’ve experienced both and I disagree), and though it may appear, to the untrained eye, that he is just laying around watching Netflix, apparently it is a recognised medical fact that watching sci-fi movies will help him to heal faster. I am also told that he does not ‘moan’, but rather emits involuntary groans of distress which are proportional only to the amount of excruciating pain that he is experiencing. All jokes aside, he has been in a lot of pain and he’s taken it like a trooper. Because he’s injured and we have been staying home a lot, it’s given me a lot of time to reflect on everything that has happened this year so far, and all of the things that we have survived during this year on the parenting roller coaster.

The past few months have certainly dealt us more than our fair share – there’s been multiple injuries and broken bones, colds, flus, and chicken pox, moving houses, jobs that fell through, as well as grief and loss. We’ve had periods of time where days blended into nights and sleep deprivation took over. There’s been struggles with physical and mental health at times, hospitalisations and medical procedures, and times where I felt I might crumble under the overwhelming circumstances. But there’s also been lots of good stuff – we celebrated 13 years married, birthdays with the kids, had visits from family, bought and renovated a retro camper for holidays, shipped the last of our belongings up from the South Island and found ourselves a new car, and a house that we can call home. I also finished a certificate and got through the last of my post-graduate course work and will be moving onto research. We’ve had ups and downs, but it’s a year we won’t forget, and a year where our children got older. With our oldest now ten, I’m starting to realise how quickly they grow up, and am learning to appreciate every day – even if things aren’t going as planned.

Over the course of the year, and this column, I’ve also been able to explore a lot of the ways that I juggle this ‘study mummy’ life, while I work, raise my kids and try to steer away from a strait jacket. I’ve looked at how we mothers can have it all, explored what it means to be identified as ‘just a mum’, wrestled with our household’s not-so-environmental habits, tried to break our ten-year-old away from his device addiction, broke my foot, become more disorganised than ever, threw in the towel on supermarket shopping and whinged about not being able to drink when the going gets tough. It’s been one hell of a year, and heading into my thesis I don’t see things getting any less crazy for next year, but I wouldn’t change a thing, and am loving going on this crazy ride more than ever.

So, here’s to another year of imperfect parenting, to juggling, and to maintaining sanity (where possible). I applaud all of the working mummies, study mummies, and juggling mummies on another year well done, and encourage you all to enjoy the summer, and enjoy your babies. Don’t forget to be kind to yourselves and to lock yourself in the closet every now and then to eat that Pinky bar in peace. You’ll be better off for it, and nobody will know. Remember: Mum’s the Word.

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