Sense of Purpose

By Monday evening, when I am back home in the Outpost, I will have – in the past seven days: driven over 1,000 miles; reconnected with friends; had longed for conversations over too much wine during too many late nights; met my big kids’ new teachers; purchased provisions unavailable in my African outback; worn shoes every day for a week.

Best of all – though – I will have spent a whole weekend in the company of all three of my children. And I will have done what I always do: fed them (which feels comfortingly like feeding the 5,000 again), watched them sleep, nagged them to shower, hugged them (ceaselessly, so that they probably tire of it but sweetly oblige), laughed at their tales of a new school, listened to their anxieties and tried to salve them. I will have been able to launder their clothes, spoil them rotten, kiss them goodnight. And in so doing I will have reminded myself that for all the things I call myself at times (teacher, journalist, writer) lest people think less of me because sometimes they do when you ‘fess up to full time mothering, that I am just that: a mum. And that being a mum – a 24/7 mum – is where I’m most comfortable. Where I’m happiest. Where, even though I’m not the best mum in the whole world, is probably, given it’s the job I’ve done the longest, the one I do best. Because it gives me the greatest sense of purpose.

And Monday night, when those big kids are back at school and I’m back in Outpost with only Hat, that’s going to be a useful thing to hang onto until the next time I see them.

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