One week into school already and I’m tired. Is it turning 30 and becoming older? I just want quiet and it’s certainly not what I’m getting. Or what I’m not allowing in my life. I seem to spend some days – go, go, going….and then crashing. So I’m learning that I need to self regulate and watch out for the burn outs. Which means saying goodbye to the family during happy hour and disappearing beneath warm bubbles in a bath. This is so I don’t become demented from tiredness and undo all the nurturing of the day by screaming and screaming and probably more screaming. The bath is the nicer option for everybody. (I’ll leave power hour, as my husband has now called it, to him.)

Today was an interesting day for me. I had no appointments for the morning. Nowhere to run to. No one to meet. Utter hours of potential. I chose to do what would feed me, rather than my ‘to do’ list (which is very, very long and grows steadily longer as I type). I chose not to sit at my computer and email and catch up, I did this last night, which wasn’t really the time for it either. I think I had better set up proper emailing times, just like they’d have letter writing times in  those good, old, non digital days. Then I’d get everything done without having this dread of ‘to do’ loom over my head every time by blackberry pings.

So what did I choose to do this morning? I went for a walk with a friend who just had a baby. It was so great to stretch my legs in Johannesburg’s leafy suburbia. I have a mental block against walking in Johannesburg, and every time I walk I realise how very ‘mental’ that block is. Owning the streets with my feet feels like I’m owning my life more. (Sometimes I can feel ownership of my life slip from beneath my fingers as I tend to the Princes’ hefty needs.) So thumbs up for walking and chatting with a good friend. And I didn’t take my cell phone with. I allowed it to accumulate all the messages it wanted to.

I’m learning that time is all about self regulation. Something Prince No. 2’s school, Bellavista teaches so well. And something my school obviously never taught me. I struggle with schedule, with balancing friends and times to see them. Balancing when to do what. I’m good at focusing on one project at a time. Making time for everything, like yoga, art, things I enjoy alludes me. I’m good at the ‘have tos’  like meals on the table and the kids are at school on time.

Somehow taking care of myself is not a ‘have to’. I as a mother really struggle to balance all the elements of a happy, balanced life. I go on the back burner. Time needs to be justified in order to spend it on myself. To indulge myself. Which is crazy. I’m only going to live once. And it may as well be a happy life. I’ve been conditioned that I must be productive to be valuable. Surely I need to feel worthwhile in myself and then naturally I’ll be more productive. Without giving myself the nurturing and time that I need to self regulate and feel truly alive, I burn out. And when I burn out, boy do I burn. Not taking care of myself  comes at a hefty physical and emotional price. And I know I’m not alone.

This is a big theme in many women’s lives. (It’s a big theme of this blog.) I believe that we are waiting for someone to give us permission to nurture ourselves and take care of ourselves. No ones ever going to do it for us. No ones running around to make us cups of tea and tell us to go sit in the garden.

I could give you permission and tell you to do it – but will you listen? Why not? We are all our own worst prison wardens. It’s a fact that fascinates and frightens me. It’s scary because it’s so deeply unconscious.

Sure some women manage to do it all. Like that movie with Sarah Jessica Parker – ‘I don’t know how she does it.’ Personally I don’t really think it’s possible for most mothers to work full time, especially in high powered careers and enjoy their children, and take care of themselves. Of course it depends on how many children you have. It’s all relative. But I would like to defunct the myth of the perfect mother/woman. It’ll take me time though because deep down I still think it exists. (And it doesn’t – it doesn’t, damn it! I even tried it again this week with a planned healthy menu of dinners. Did it work? One night out of four – Nandos was a welcome break last night. A well run house with perfect, healthy meals is a myth I tell you. Unless you want to be a slave to the stove. Which I don’t.)

For now we’re all just fine as we are. Good enough mothers.

So me quietly sitting with a cup of Rooibos Chai and a bowl of porridge and blueberries is a simple way of being. The only thing is, I need to stop blogging so I can enjoy it…and my gardener just walked in to tell me we have a burst pipe, so out comes my Blackberry.

I can dream can’t I, of being balanced, of quiet fulfillment and serenity. And in the dream I can catch brief moments of it. And moment by moment maybe it’ll become my life. At least I’ll try self regulate when it’s not, and have lots and lots of aromatic bubble baths.