11 Jun 2014

Yes Mess

Don't get me wrong - I hate mess.
It drives me crazy and makes me drop many other things to deal with it. It is a deep irony given my two children and my professional attraction to mess, being a psychologist and all....
Motherhood is, I just realised a synonym to mess. There is no motherhood without mess. Let me "free associate" here for a moment - Mess... diapers, vomit, toys scattered all over the floor, tiny bits of toilet paper in the bathroom,  egg yolk on the carpet, rice and bread crumbs on my feet, messy hair, "I am a mess", and the grandest of all: I messed up...

Show me a mother who is o.k with mess. Even the most relaxed ones amongst us fall for the last one (The "I messed up" bit... guilt - another synonym of motherhood..).
External mess meets internal mess. We walk as if enveloped in a big fluffy cloud, multi-tasking and list making, an overworked brain trying to manage the unmanageable: direct an overworked body into organising the mess. "Let it be" by the Beatles springs to mind (hey, I love free association- remember?), but that is too idealistic as a resolution to the inherent problem of Mother-Mess.
Why do I make a fuss over mess today? I'll tell you why. A patient of mine was talking about his mother today. About how he was never given the key to her "world" - the feeling that it's o.k to mess with her - play with her, trick her, be allowed to enter her private psychological territory and test it. Test her patience, her love, drive her crazy, angry, passionate, see how she rebounds, how she blindly searches for a way out of a mutual mess of feelings, of intermingling with each other, being one and separating, being one again.
So mess is important. It drives us up the wall, teaches us to cope with the most intense feelings of boundaries being broken and re-established, of where we begin and where we end, of what we can allow without gulping down LSD or antidepressants.
Mess is a means of communication. The child naturally believes that he/she can do as he/she pleases. Where do we draw the line? It is an art. To teach reality yet not shut them out. To teach them respect for the other (yes, you!) without abandoning them, and to let them know that they can make you mad without fearing the loss of your love (just the loss of their favourite tv show for today maybe?).
Mess is a big challenge for a mother. It teaches you resilience, a painful awareness of your limitations or even intense concentration (hey, I can write this while listening to LEGO sounds on the PS4)...
But mostly, it teaches you the hard lesson that now you are not on your own anymore. You have one (or more) little creatures who want in. They want a piece of this magical mummy place that is your most guarded and precious possession - your Self.
So mess? Yes please! (do I have a choice?)

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