Having spent the last eighteen months establishing Green Heart Collective, founder Helen Redfern is reflecting on what really matters in life for her...and maybe her reflections may inspire you too to explore life with gratitude and curiosity. Click here to read the previous blog on why music matters.
Daughter. Sister. Niece. Auntie. Mum. Grandma. Wife. Mother-in-law. Family comes with a whole list of labels. Those labels bring responsibilities and duties. Those labels stick, whether you fulfil the responsibilities and duties well or not. And sometimes that can all feel overwhelming, like something has to give, like you can't be the perfect wife and mum and grandma etc all of the time.
Especially when you have five children. How did I come to have five children? You know the scenario where each decision you make seems entirely logical and doable and then suddenly, you find yourself with five children and four grandchildren and wonder how you got to that place? We had two birth sons, decided fostering was for us, adopted the three children we fostered...and the family now continues to grow with partners and babies and pets etc! Our younger children have additional needs too, just to add that into the mix. It's a very busy, chaotic family!
So what made me believe I could start up and run my own business, on top of caring for my family? Again, it was one of those seemingly logical and doable decisions, fuelled by a passion for people and planet and by a creativity that craved a challenge. It's been such a wonderful adventure, so good for my mental health. I love Green Heart Collective. I love what we have created here as a team.
But I've proved you can't have it all. You can't do it all. My youngest daughter has expressed how she's felt neglected in the last couple of years. I'm not around at home as much. I'm always tired. She's 19 and many 19 year olds are off at university, but she is not that 19 year old. She manages with me not being around, but needs/wants more from me than I'm able to give. I can choose to feel resentful about that, to wish things were different, or I can choose to accept that is how life is right now for her and choose to find more time for her and with her. And then there's the grandchildren, they won't be young forever. I want more time with them too. It's all such a juggling act, isn't it?
Family matters. These are the people I have been given to care for and nurture first of all. That's what I have to remember. And I have to remember it's all about perspective, not to see that role as burden but as a privilege. Of course, it's not going to feel like a privilege every minute of every day. I get so much wrong. I fail often. I keep trying. You see, there's a joy that comes from being a mother that is priceless. I want to make time for that joy, to reconnect with my kids, my husband, my relatives. I've identified that I feel guilty when I spend time with the family, how ridiculous is that? Like I should be doing something more meaningful, more productive, more worthy. And yet what is more meaningful, more productive and more worthy than caring for those who have been entrusted into your care? I need to get over that way of thinking, that's for sure. None of us know what is around the corner, how much opportunity we will have to spend time together and make memories.
I'm still wrestling with the balancing act that is work and family and friends and time for myself and climate activism. In reducing my hours at work, I'm stating an intention to value family time more - and have found however in the last two weeks, how easy it is to let other stuff rob me of that extra time.
The intention stands. Family matters. Now I need to show that it does.