Erin Maloney, Founding Director of Tiny Nation
Today I was there.
My biggest boy (Jack, 6) ran his second school cross country today and I was there.
Last year I wasn’t.
Today, I made it from work just in time and cheered, supported, hugged and high fived my way through an afternoon of school activity fun. And I savoured it… because there have been so many days when I wasn’t there. So many moments that I missed. So many firsts; first steps, first words, first outings, first friendships, first foods… first times.
Today, I took photos of a ‘first time’ for a fellow working Mum who couldn’t be there – just like another Mum did for me last year. Because we all feel it. That guilt when you can’t be there for your children because you must be somewhere else at the same time. That never-ending conflict you have with yourself for wanting so desperately to be a Mum but also needing to have your own identity outside of motherhood. Or needing to make ends meet. Or just needing some time out.
Today, as I prepare to launch a new organisation called ‘Tiny Nation’ – a community of home-based education, care and support for children and families – I am reminded that sometimes it really does take a village. When we can’t be there, our village steps in. A village of nurturing people and a home away from home for our children. People who will love them just like we do, who will be there when they fall down and who will cheer them on when we can’t. I’ve been lucky enough to have this as a Mum. I had an Educator who was a home away from home for my children, with a love for them just like mine; nurturing, consistent, protective, familiar and secure. She gave them a sense of belonging and a kind confidence in their own skin that can only come from relationships built on total trust and connection.
Today, I was taken back to the moments when I couldn’t be there. And you know what? I was reminded that the silver lining in those moments was that someone else always was there. Someone who loved my children just like I did. Someone who comforted them when they needed it. Someone who revelled in their tiny moments of triumph just as much as I did.
And so why does this organisation called ‘Tiny Nation’ exist? It exists because I’m a Mum who gets what it’s like when you can’t be there. It exists because I’ve had the benefit of having a village around me and an Educator that has been a constant source of support. It exists because it is now time to build a Tiny Nation of people who will take home-based care, education and support into the future and re-define what our village looks like.
Today, I realised that one of my greatest achievements as a Mum is not that I’m always there for all the moments, for all the firsts. I can’t be. Instead, it is making sure that someone significant to my children always is. Because that’s the village in play. It’s the comradery, the partnership and the shared love for our children. It’s showing up for one another and growing great communities. It’s the Tiny Nation.