Mama Always Comes Back

This article first appeared on The Montague Reporter,
under my monthly column “Indie Mama Diaries”

Despite my best efforts to establish a routine for myself and my son, the truth is that we probably never really get our day-to-day into a steady rhythm. Since his birth, his father and I have been juggling freelance schedules, and no two weeks have ever looked alike. Neither of us has a 9-to-5 job, so our lives are constantly shifting and our schedules constantly changing. 

I can’t help but wonder if this constant fluctuation is having an adverse effect on our son. 

I don’t really remember growing up with a routine, either. I was raised by a single mother, and we moved around quite a bit. I once counted the number of times I moved as a child, and I believe it was five or six. I don’t know what it’s like to grow up in one home, with the same group of friends and weekly scheduled activities. On the flip side, I do know how to flexibly go from one situation into another – how to go with the flow, so to speak. 

Having spent nearly my whole life shifting and moving around, I now crave a routine more than ever. I’ve also read that having a routine is very important for children, as it gives them a feeling of security and stability. 

Still, despite my best efforts, a routine continues to feel beyond our reach. 

When I really stop to think about it, though, I realize that despite our chaotic schedules, and despite shuffling the child around between two homes, it’s still quite possible that we’re succeeding at creating security and stability. I mean, there’s gotta be other ways to create that for a child. It is, after all, a feeling. 

And if I get stuck in trying to create that feeling through the lens of routine, then of course I’m going to feel like an ultimate failure. Comparing myself to other parents, or measuring myself up against the “to do’s” of parenting, will not create what I desire. So, I’m giving myself full permission to let go of routine, and I’m gonna embrace and work with what we got.

When I think about it some more, I realize I’ve been naturally doing that already. Since he was a baby, I’ve repeated to him over and over, “Remember, mama always comes back.” This combination of words has become engraved in his heart. I take refuge in knowing that he knows to trust my word. 

When I was six years old, my mom moved to Chicago for work. I stayed behind with my grandmother. I don’t recall anyone ever explaining anything to me, and as I look back at this point in my life, I realize that it’s taken me most of my adult life to find stability and rootedness. More than once I’ve had to leave my child in the care of others, while I’m out there doing my hustle, and time and time again, I’ve lived up to my word. 

We’ve only had to move once in his little life, and even though we’re growing out of our current living space, we’ve lived here long enough for him to know this as home. The time will come when we’ll need to move to a bigger space, but for the time being, I will celebrate everything I’ve accomplished to create security and safety.

But for now, I will continue to do what I’ve been doing best: trusting my instincts, and creatively nurturing an ongoing feeling of safety, comfort, and security for my little one.


my name is mishel ixchel, i'm an indie mama to a virgo boy, and these are my stories.