Paint me with Red Dirt

desert wanderer

My head is buzzing at a frenetic pace. I hear the hum of my daily chores as I blunder through the list of things I do to achieve a happy household. Who am I kidding? I am not even aiming at happy. Most days I am shooting for functional. Like bare basics.

Are you fed? Are your teeth grimy? Did I read to you today? Are you okay?

It is a terrible place to arrive at as a parent.

Today I asked my mother “do I do enough?” and she replied “Yes!”. I asked her to say that again, because no matter how much I do, I never feel like it is enough. I find myself trapped in a fantasy of  Perfect Mothering. A common ailment suffered by women-folk who try their hardest but fail to meet their own standards. Unlike those celebrity mothers or the random friend who sews her entire family’s wardrobe at night after studying a PhD  while I am in my slippers, at home flat-out folding washing.

My children ask me questions but their echos only circle the back of my conscious mind. I am busy sorting through the motions of my day. My brain is opening and shutting files at a rapid pace and paper is flying out everywhere as my children wrap their legs around mine, screech at me and fight one another over the scrap of a carrot peeling. I wonder how to wrangle the beast within me – a mother version of Hulk as she rips off her shirt, green muscles bulging from her chest – everything exploding away from her just like in the cartoon. All this so she can just be still, quiet and think for a moment.

Just let me think for a moment…..

My children disperse from the kitchen. I clap my hands behind their backs like I am herding goats’ from their paddock. I fumble at the things I am supposed to be doing as I steer the family ship. I bend over to pick up the scrap of carrot peeling from the floor and it occurs to me that I am not one person anymore. I am a million different people trying to accomplish a million different things. I am breathing hard against the standards of a modern society. The over-achieving child in me has become the hulk of a woman I am but I was not aware of the transformation. I was too busy being busy to see the damage occurring. I just want to scream ‘stop’ at the demands of the world around me, but my voice seems weak and self-doubt engulfs me.

The cascade of “I should” begins. I should eat better. I should meditate more. I should walk the dog more often. I should start that yoga class. I should lose 5kg. I should call my friends more than once per annum. I should clean the oven. I should do more craft. I should …….

God I hate that!

As I shift my drained focus away from the urgency of Life I begin to see it like an addiction. A soul-destroying addiction to busyness. Like sugar. The more you eat it, the more you want it. Soon enough you realise that you are eating too  much and cannot stop. And the flavour wanes but the addiction has you fooled. You need this. You thrive on it. But really, your body is suffering and unwell.

Conversely, the more time I spend emotionally connected to my children, the better my mood. The better their behaviour and the easier we communicate. I begin to see them as souls again and not little people who are always under my feet as I march through the day. We share more joy, we talk through upheavals, we laugh at each others jokes. And it is (mostly) relaxing. They force me outside into the sunshine. We construct cubby houses. Investing time in them has the complete opposite effect to investing so much energy into the busyness of Life. Where the latter takes from me, my children only give.

I arrived at this place quite by accident. I went mother-walk-about. I lifted my weary soul from the desk I was sitting at and said “go”. I watched her moving into the Desert. Red Sand. Bare feet. Nothing there. No one there. I asked “what do you need?” and she ran. And she kept running until she was out of breath. Then as the desert sun began to set she painted her self with red dirt. Like she needed to return to the Earth, to remember her roots and connection. I felt that. It was me. It is what my soul needed. And the feeling was sublime. No longer a million people, just one fierce woman.

It is now a place I keep close. I am letting the wild within. It is my space. Alone. And no scrap of a carrot peel is keeping me from it again!


 Melanie Robinson is a Naturopath, health crusader, imperfect but mindful mother, and hopeless at keeping in contact with her friends (sorry Kyles). She uses challenging moments in motherhood to reflect upon her spiritual and emotional evolution as a woman. She does not read celebrity magazines but she does write her own bio’s….

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