We’re all out here posting memes about quiet quitting and prioritising ourselves but self-care queen Jacinda Ardern has gone ahead and done just that. I cannot help but being a fan of that, to be honest.
In her resignation announcement, New Zealand’s Prime Minister managed to give everyone a lesson in self-care, just in time for us weak souls to get back on our new year resolution horses and remind ourselves to prioritise our own wellbeing.
Jacinda Ardern has had enough - and who can blame her?
“I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do [the job] justice,” Ardern said today. Name a time when a Prime Minister has ever said anything more relatable than this, I dare you.
I, for one, have watched her weather storms and wondered many times why she didn’t just quit. I cannot imagine the strength of character it takes to be in some of the situations she’s been in and not just going “f*** it”. It’s a good thing I have no interest in ever becoming Prime Minister because I wouldn’t have lasted 12 hours on the job. One look at my parliament.govt.nz inbox on a Monday morning and I’d be out of that Beehive in no time, power walking out of there while setting up my Seek notifications.
In fact, the only surprising thing about today’s announcement is the fact that it didn’t happen a long time ago, when she first started getting hate for trying to steer the country away from mass death in a global pandemic. I’m not sure any other Prime Minister in history has had to deal with the level of vitriol Ardern has had to put up with on a regular, exhausting basis.
They wouldn’t give it a rest so she went ahead and decided to give herself a rest. I do not blame her one bit for returning from summer holidays and deciding that she could not face another year of this, especially an election year and all the added work that comes with it. After what you’ve seen, do you really think it would have been wise for her to be out on the campaign trail? Hell no.
Whatever you think of her policies, no one can deny that she had a challenging half decade leading Aotearoa. I cannot say I’ve had to deal with a terrorist attack, a volcano eruption and a pandemic all within one job but I can confidently say that’s a fair bit more than what Ardern thought she was signing up for when she agreed to become Prime Minister. Oh, and in the middle of all of that, she made a whole person.
Jacinda Ardern is human, as she reminded us in her speech today. She is also a mum. When I saw the image of Neve ironing her butterfly wings for the day today, I recognised those. It’s a $5.50 wing cape from Kmart and I’ve been meaning to pop into the shop to get one for my daughter too. I pictured Jacinda, the mum, helping Neve putting on her butterfly wing cape, tying the little elastics around her tiny wrists. I hope there was no work on her mind while she did that, and I can totally understand watching your tiny human dance around the living room in their butterfly wings and suddenly wanting more of that in your life. There is not one working mum out there who doesn’t relate to that.
This is a woman who needs a break - and she’s not letting anything get in the way of it. I applaud and respect that.
It hasn’t all been perfect, we all know that (and I’m sure there are weeks of dissecting that ahead for all of us). But I dread to think of how much worse it could have been under a different leadership. As someone who chose New Zealand as a place to live, rather than just being born here, I am grateful to Ardern for continuously justifying my choice. Whenever being away from family felt a little too hard to handle (which was essentially all the time during the first couple of years of the pandemic), I had to think very hard about what I was doing here, why I was still here, if my heart ached so much for everyone else in my other home. In those times, I thought to myself: because this is home too, because you are safe here. I follow enough world news to know that is not a feeling anyone should take for granted.
As Kiwis like to say, onya Jacinda. I bet that was really hard work and I bet there were a lot of days that really sucked. Did we know how lucky we were? I guess time will tell. I look forward to seeing what you do next but, in the meantime, enjoy those cups of tea in bed and watching Neve twirl around in her butterfly wings. There is no task more important than that.