Priorities in life

Connection as a mirror

My husband said to me this morning that he noticed I was checking my phone in the middle of the night and he wondered if that was really a healthy thing to be doing. I brushed it off. I wasn’t really checking it, it’s just that there was a notification and as I happened to be awake anyway, I quickly glanced at it to see what it was. This was the truth. But then he went on to say that he’d noticed I seemed to be pretty ‘connected’ a lot of the time and even our son had made a comment about mum and 'her phone'. A frown and furrowed brow from me. Hmmmm. I think you could be right, I said.

 

Although I felt a great deal of resistance to what he was saying, I knew that probably part of the reason I was resisting was because there was truth in it. The way I’d seen it was that my connection with people was important, I mean I have a blog about connection, of course it’s important! Especially when much of that connection centred around ‘important stuff’, and things I care a lot about, like my blog, my kids’ school and my role in the P&F, for example. But the truth is that I just like that stuff. I care about what I put out there and how I communicate with people about the things I care about. It’s my way of being connected to the things that matter to me, and this is a good thing … as long as it’s not to the exclusion of the other things I care about … like family.

 

My husband knows I like this stuff and I know I have his unwavering support - he’s my cheer squad, but he’s also my mirror. When he cared enough to point out something he could see I was probably missing, he was holding up the reflection of something I class as the most important thing, family and my role as a mother, and questioning whether I was renegotiating its priority without even knowing it. It’s easy to do with things we like, things we love and which we consider important. Time flies when you’re doing them, they creep into time meant for other things and they’re easy to justify, all without even knowing you’re doing it. Without even knowing you’re changing your priorities by your actions.

 

Balance and flow is important in life so we can somehow juggle our roles and responsibilities and manage our priorities. Part of achieving that flow means connecting with those special people in our lives who can hold the mirror up to the things we can’t see from our internal perspective. I can’t see a bit of parsley or a chia seed stuck in my tooth without a mirror, but the person I’m talking to probably can and they can, and hopefully do, kindly point out that it’s there despite the fact that I couldn’t detect it myself. It might be an uncomfortable moment and I bet I’d wish the stray bit didn’t lodge in the first place, but this resistance doesn’t change the fact that it’s there and now that I know about it, I have the opportunity to do something about it. So what am I going to do? Say it’s not a problem and leave it there???

 

It takes courage to hear and see what our mirrors are showing us sometimes and that’s usually because the mirror reflects something that’s different to the way we see ourselves. When my husband held that mirror up to me this morning, I felt a great deal of resistance because I pride myself on putting my family first - they’re the most important thing in the whole world to me. But what that mirror was showing me was that even though that priority is what I say and certainly what I believe, my actions could be telling a slightly different story. Ouch. And at the end of the day, it is our actions, what we do, that defines us.

 

I’m not proud to say that I needed this to be pointed out to me, but I’m willing to admit it and also glad to say I overcame that initial resistance and found the courage to look into that mirror truthfully. I’m glad I did because what I saw was a truth resistance could have blinded me to. I love writing and I love the groups I’m involved in and my roles in my communities - they bring me great joy and stimulation. I love to be involved and I love doing a job well. But my priority is my family and just because my interests feel good and are important, they’ll never top what matters most. Thankfully I was shown a mirror this morning that perhaps suggested a slightly different picture, or at least the potential to develop into a very different picture. The point is, I couldn’t see it myself, but someone close to me could and now I see more than if I was looking with my eyes only.

 

Make the time to do the things that are important to you, honour your priorities and commit to them fully. When you’re with that thing, or with that person, be with them fully, give them your whole attention. You can’t connect with people fully, you can’t get jobs done properly, neither can you feel the full benefit of the things that are really important to you unless you give them your best. Listen to your mirror holder-upperers, be brave enough to look and have the courage to see resistance as a sign of something you need to address.

 

And on that note, you may notice that this is a shorter post than usual. Well that’s no coincidence - I would love to write all day because I do love it, but have other priorities that also need my best attention ;-) 

Photo credit: Mirrors from Bhaktapur, Nepal, by Sukanto Debnath via Flickr

Know thyself

Thank you to everyone who read, shared, liked and commented on my last post. I was really surprised by the response and also really heartened by the support and also the interest in something that obviously strikes at the heart for so many. The response to that article really got me thinking about the importance of connection in motherhood, and indeed parenthood. The amount of page views and shares really showed me that this is important and something that people really do care about. I never had any intention of writing about motherhood as such, except to touch on it occasionally in the bigger conversation about connection, and because I’ve written about motherhood in the past, felt a bit ‘over it’ actually. However, this article got me thinking about motherhood in the context of connection and I realised it's something I’d overlooked in my quest to unpack and explore this topic.

 

There was one comment in particular that really caught my attention and taps into my whole fascination and theory about the importance of connection. That comment was that the perspective in that article  [http://www.andreakelly.org/andreakelly/2014/8/1/the-courage-to-connect-and-courageously-support] had the potential to change women’s personal journeys of motherhood … and from there the world. And from there the world. Bingo. That’s what I’m talking about. She went on to say that if women could ‘get this’, then think of the harmony and the love and how deeply connected it could make families, communities and more. I cannot tell you how amazing it feels when you’re trying to explore, explain and share an idea that you truly believe in, when someone, somewhere says something in response and you know they 'get it'. The way I felt when I read that comment, as well as the comment itself, illustrates perfectly why I am so obsessed with connection and why I believe it’s our number one hope of bringing more peace into our own lives and indeed the world.

 

I’m talking from my own perspective as a mother mostly to other mothers, so while I don’t mean to exclude fathers and other guardians, because all are heroically important, I will mostly refer to mothers and motherhood and leave it to you as the reader to slot your own situation in. 

 

At the heart of the last article was the importance of connecting with and supporting new mothers in not striving to be everything to everyone and get 'everything done' at a time when, especially with an unsettled baby, just surviving seems to be the only thing that we’re realistically able to tick off the list … and that’s ok. It’s so important for more experienced mothers to connect with and share the wisdom of hindsight with newer mothers to help bust the myths on what motherhood is, what’s important and in doing so, reshape the all too often unrealistic expectations. Expectations that can lead to pressure, frustration, isolation and depression.

 

The first point I’d like to make is that this feeling is not unique to new mothers. Of course a screaming newborn is a rude shock into the world of motherhood emotions, but the expectations and distorted perceptions of priorities persists throughout motherhood. Unfortunately you don’t get to a point where you ‘get it’, tick it off and move on, at least I haven’t, not yet anyway. Nope, it goes on and on and is in many ways one of the shared experiences that defines motherhood. I even think, with the advantage of hindsight and my own experience with a grumpy bugger of a baby, if you have an unsettled baby, and this frustration and feeling of being torn becomes a part of your life from the get go, then maybe, just possibly, it’s mother nature’s way of giving you a head start. Better start practising, better get used to this, she’s saying, better figure out how you’re going to cope because this ain’t going away!

 

Sure, I know a screaming baby is a pretty in-your-face, heart wrenching horror of an ‘opportunity’ in bloody good disguise, but that could be a very handy way of looking at it. Your baby won’t cry forever, but crying baby or not, you will feel this way again … and again, and again. And whatever happens, in whatever way, you will get through this. You may find the miracle cure, you may not. You may come through unscathed, but you may also be scarred for life. But no matter what, while you will undoubtedly learn a lot about your baby, you’ll learn most about yourself.

 

It’s a worn out phrase that babies don’t come with a manual and of course it’s true, but it reminds me of of how sometimes there’s too much focus on the baby and not enough focus on the mum. Bear with me, I’m not saying for one moment that we should ignore our babies and indulge ourselves, that they’ll sort themselves out while we carry on with our lives as if we don’t have a screaming baby. Besides, screaming babies are pretty hard to ignore - that’s the problem, right? But what I am saying is that sometimes focusing all our energy on ‘fixing’ an unsettled baby while ignoring ourselves won’t do anyone any good either, and that focusing our energy, and at least a reasonable portion of our brain space, on understanding ourselves can be a much better investment. One of the reasons is that we may never find the magic solution for our unsettled babies and by seeking to find the ‘cure’ day after day, we run the risk of setting ourselves up for failure on a deep and dangerous level. The other reason is that while the baby will definitely, I promise you, stop being unsettled, at least at some point, the feelings of expectation as a mother, the juggling of priorities, the sense of overwhelm and frustration will come again and again in different forms and for different reasons, and the best chance any mother has of coping constructively with these feelings and learning to thrive in spite of them is by knowing herself.

 

No, babies don’t come with a manual, but by the time you have a baby, you will have accumulated a fair bit of data about what makes you you. What makes you happy, what makes you frustrated, where your strengths and weaknesses are, what your issues are. Any stress in life will magnify the things you know about yourself as well as highlight that which you didn’t know, and that which surprises you. Motherhood, if nothing else, is an epic journey in self discovery and self development. And therefore, if one thing’s true, and this applies just as much to dads and guardians, is that knowing thyself is probably your greatest tool for connecting with that baby, with your children and making this roller coaster ride of parenting as positive and fulfilling as possible.

 

Connection is the key, but it starts with yourself. It starts with listening to your inner voice, to your instincts and often, you will have to actively practise listening in order to even hear that voice, but it is there and it needs to be heard. This is where your truth is, and the more you can intentionally connect with and listen to that inner voice, the louder and more easily heard it will become. It is your first and most important mission as a parent, as a mother, as a woman, and you will need to draw on it time and time again. No one else can do it for you and it will take courage to learn to commit to it, but it’s the most important thing you can do because it’s through this voice that you will know how to nurture yourself first. By nurturing yourself first, you can mother your baby in the way that you are at peace with and have the courage to teach your partner the way that’s best for you and your baby. It will give you the courage to question the expectations you place on yourself and to make decisions that feel right for you.

 

When we connect with and support new mothers, and indeed all mothers and parents, to tap into their inner wisdom, their inner truth and peace, we enable and encourage them to parent in a way that is most unique, heart-centred and most effective for them. This is the most perfect form of parenting any parent can gift their children. It creates happy, secure and nurturing homes and enables us and our little people to go out into the world and connect with our communities from a place of greater understanding. By knowing thyself, by having the courage and commitment to listen to ourselves first, we create a feedback loop that changes not only our own lives, but those of our kids, those of our communities and indeed the world. When I have the courage and commitment to listen to my heart and let my words and my actions be guided by its truth, I allow others to tap into a primal human desire to do the same. Our kids need us to be true and at peace, whatever that means to us, so that we can guide them authentically. And kids know, babies know - they haven’t lost that instinct, it’s still raw, in tact and functioning for them; it’s us adults that have many a time lost touch with our inner truth. It takes courage to listen, it takes courage to believe and act, but when we do, things change. Life becomes easier, more enjoyable, more peaceful.

 

I know screaming babies are awful and I wouldn’t want to go back to that, but I can see with hindsight that I did miss an opportunity. I missed the opportunity to begin the journey of nurturing myself and listening to my inner truth much, much earlier than I did. We learn things at precisely the time that we’re ready to learn and I can’t turn back the clock anyway, but I do hope that my own hindsight can make someone else’s journey a little less prickly. I hope that the small amount of peace and wisdom I’ve found inside myself thus far can help just one other person see the importance of knowing thyself, trusting their instincts and in doing so, help others to do the same. True connection starts within ourselves, inside our own hearts, and the magic of doing this is that once we do, we can’t help but form more authentic connections with others, whether that’s our own kids, or people reading blogs on the internet. It’s a way of saying, “It’s ok, I understand”, and if that’s not a way to make better homes, better communities and a better world, I don’t know what is. 

Photo credit: Fe Ilya, "All My Loving" via Flickr

The courage to connect and courageously support

I often think about mothers of newborns and very young children and wonder how smartphones and the advent of Web 2.0 has impacted and changed the experience of early motherhood. When I first became a mother, smart phones were only just entering the market so Facebook and all the other social media icons were not yet as ubiquitous to every day life as they are now. I see posts from friends with babies and toddlers sharing milestones, cute photos and videos, and also the not-so-cute times. The sleep deprivation, the frustration with teething and sickness, the inability to ‘get anything done’, the urgent and dire need to ‘get out of the house’, the overwhelm of trying to fit too much into a day and then think of something to cook for dinner. Whenever I read these posts, it takes me back to a time when I too shared the same experiences, but didn’t have a smartphone to be able to tap into a willing cheer squad.

 

 

I was thinking about all this recently when a friend of mine with a very young baby wrote a post about being worn out looking after her unsettled colicky baby. Her post and replying comments took me right back to when my second child was a baby and also very unsettled. It reminded me of how I felt during that time and how I became isolated and depressed, even though I didn’t really know it at the time. My overwhelming desire was to reach out to her and help her in the way I wished someone had have been able to reach out to me. I wanted to tell her what I wished someone had have been able to tell me.

 

When my baby 'turned' from being a content, quiet little baby into a tormented, frustrated, crying little red ball at about 6 weeks, I think I would have liked my older self to have looked my younger self in the eye and tell me about the necessity of having the courage to trust my instincts and prioritise self-nurture. That this, regardless of what I believed was most important and what being a ‘good’ and ‘capable’ mother meant to me, that these things had to come first. I know what the younger self would have thought too. She would have brushed it off as obvious to the point of being irrelevant because the real priority was to figure out how to settle this baby so I could get all this other stuff done. In other words, I, like many others, I daresay, theoretically saw the importance of nurturing instincts and understanding unrealistic expectations, but not to the extent of being able to prevent myself from becoming isolated and depressed. Making the link between instincts, self-nuture and maintaining meaningful and healthy connections with others, along with the active pursuit of accountability for your own well-being is probably difficult to do without the 20/20 vision of hindsight.

 

And so day after day I’d try something new, looked for those magic gripe drops, tried the swaddling technique that was slightly different to the 7 others I’d tried, upset myself and my baby with control crying, soothing music, a more rigid feeding routine, altering my own diet, stressed myself out by trying not to be stressed and read yet another article telling me my baby was upset because I was stressed and that he was merely taking cues from me, so I should sit down and have a cup of tea. Viola! Not.

 

Looking for solutions is fine, but there's rarely a silver bullet and sometimes not even a name for ‘it'. The truth is some babies cry, a lot, and sometimes we never really find out why. Just when you think something’s ‘done the trick’, you’re just as likely to have the wheels fall off and have to head back to the drawing board … again. Early motherhood is demanding, even when everything’s smooth sailing, and downright treacherous when it’s not. When you're new to this, to this enormous, relentless job, your instincts are probably your best friend. But we can’t see instincts, were never taught instincts at school and they were possibly not even mentioned, or merely skimmed over at your anti natal class, they’re not to be found in the baby isle at Coles and your mum probably brushes them off as inferior to actual experience. But your instincts are important and they need to be honed and developed, and the only way to do this is to practise listening to them. It means being kind to yourself, it means being your own mother in a way, and making that your first priority because in truth there is no other time that you need to mother yourself more than when you become a mother yourself. If you’re so tired and exhausted and confused that you can’t even imagine having instincts, but you know you need to breastfeed and bond with that baby, if that's all you can manage, well that's absolutely enough and that’s more than ok.

 

It's all so intense and magnified when you're 'in it', but time marches on and when you look back you realise how small a time in your whole life it actually was, and therefore so precious ... and tiring, and hard, and scary, but always never the less, precious. I wish new mothers were told more strongly and relentlessly that if "all" (as if it's nothing!!) you do is sleep, breast feed and talk to your friends during this time, punctuated by some walks outside, and snuggles and talks with your partner, best friend or significant other, then you're doing a brilliant and perfect job. So ingrained is the expectation that we will be ‘super mums’ immediately (whatever that means anyway), that we’re not even explicitly told to have these expectations, we just automatically do. Now that you’re a mother, you’re supposed to have everything sorted - a perfectly content baby whose different cries you fully understand and efficiently respond to, an immaculate house, a tidy pantry, delicious and nutritious dinners, washing and ironing up-to-date, a tidy social life and coffee calendar, an exercise regime, baby weight lost, swimming lesson and baby yoga, blissful breastfeeding with copious amounts of milk, a nice fat baby, and let’s not forget, extreme happiness because everybody tells you these will be the best years of your life. 

 

Now I hate to sound cynical, but seriously? I’m skeptical and I feel strongly that these often unspoken expectations are not only unrealistic, but dramatically increase new mothers’ likelihood of experiencing feelings of failure, isolation and depression. It’s often said that failing to do anything about a problem is the same as contributing to it, and it seems to me that while most of us would agree that these kinds of expectations are unrealistic, we tend to smile and go along with them anyway. What we really need to be taught is how to unlearn them. We need to be told the way it really is and supported in being much, much more realistic in what the job actually entails, its excruciating demands and what’s actually important.

 

We are living in a period in time where most of us were brought up being told we can do and be anything. We’re used to technology and with that comes a certain impatience and expectation that everything can be ‘fixed’. If you don’t like something, don’t tolerate it - get an app, read an e-book, find a guru, fix it! And again, I’m a modern woman and I not only like that approach, for the most part, but I employ it often in everyday life to huge advantage. However I’m also becoming increasingly aware of the need for real connection in life to tap into the collective human wisdom that remains essentially unchanged through the ages. It’s so easy to get caught up in ’stuff’ and become deaf to the knowledge that has accumulated through millions of lives lived. What mother looks back and says she really should have done more housework! No mother, ever. There’s something in that, why ignore it?

 

For me, I felt like everyone had a million suggestions as to how to 'fix' my baby and I felt enormous pressure to 'solve' his problem, which in turn lead to nothing but an enormous feeling of failure and depression when I couldn't. This feeling was further compounded by my expectation that I could also get everything else done, but I couldn’t, and neither did I let it go. What I wish someone would have said to me was to stop focusing on trying to 'fix' him, and instead shift to focusing on how I was going to get through this. I needed to bring down expectations and nurture myself so I could stay relaxed and solid for my baby. I now know that it's absolutely ok if that means that all you do for days on end is sleep together and feed. Let it be. Or sleep together when possible and play blocks with your toddler. Whatever, the point is it’s just a moment in time and this too will pass. Take the time to intentionally trust yourself and nurture your instincts. Your mental health and ability to cope will be greatly strengthened and your baby will respond to your focused, calm attention. 

 

Perhaps even if this had have been said to me, perhaps I wouldn’t have been able to hear it anyway because I know how ingrained my own expectations of myself were and I now also know how unrealistic and dangerous they were. It takes great courage to question your beliefs, to interrogate your modus operandi and that’s because within it we entwine our identity. Our identity as a ‘good’ mother, a ‘hard working’, ‘organised’, ‘thriving’, ‘natural’, ‘capable' mother are all wound up in our expectations of ourselves and compounded by a society that both praises these apparitions and expresses awkward discomfort with being different.

 

Mothers however, if nothing else, must be courageous, and let me tell you, even though I for one often felt as far from courageous than is humanly possible, it comes with the job; mothers are instinctively courageous. One thing you learn about courage though is that it’s not as sexy as brave. It’s often unseen, unheard and often feels exactly like fear, but the difference is that it’s relentless. It doesn’t go away and deep inside you know to trust its voice. Sometimes it sounds very different to your own voice, the voices of your friends, your family and even the voice of the world, but you’ll know it because deep down, you know it’s the truth. This is what mothers need to know.

We've got the apps, we've got Google, we've got the medicine and the natural remedies, we've got the research, we've got the studies, we've got society at large telling us what’s right and what’s wrong, but what we perhaps haven’t got is the connection that none of that can ‘fix’ anything without the ability to tap into and trust our own instincts. To share what hindsight has taught us about what’s important at a time that’s so fleeting. To help develop the courage to define our own priorities based on love and self-nurture, rather than an unrealistic and impossibly outdated super-mum machine ideal. It’s probably easier in a lot of ways to go along with the machine, but it doesn’t change anything and it unnecessarily contributes to the already present and inherently unavoidable risk of post natal depression. New mums need to be told that it’s ok to not do it all, it’s ok to not even want to! It’s ok to not be ‘perfect’. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed and depressed. It’s ok if your baby cries a lot - he won’t cry forever so let’s just now see how to get you through this in one piece, with your sanity in tact.

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we’re all more technologically connected than ever before, and while this definitely presents challenges for people becoming more isolated despite and maybe even because of all that connectivity, it also represents an unprecedented opportunity for meaningful connection. Mothering new babies, whether it be for the first time, or with a small tribe of toddlers, pre-schoolers and older kids, is extremely demanding. We get through it and come out the other side with wisdom and stories, regrets and triumphs, myths and myth busters. No two stories are quite the same because we’re all unique, but we all have something to share, something that might just resonate with someone who’s in the thick of it and who needs to be told, quite simply, it’s ok. And perhaps if it’s said enough our collective wisdom will impact the expectations placed on new mothers and increase their support and well-being. It is, after all, without a doubt, one of the most important jobs in the whole world so it need to be kept real and courageously supported. 

Connection shows up in forming better habits

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook a piece about her addiction to her scales and weighing herself. It wasn’t an extensive post, but it was enough to get a sense of the pain behind this habit and how much of a challenge it was for her to quit it. I really felt for her because I know what it’s like to have created a habit in your life that’s based on negative feelings. I knew that it was going to be hard for her to change her habit, especially because the thinking behind the habit had to change too. That’s the hardest bit, I think. But I was also incredibly proud of her for having the awareness of the need for change, the love for herself to recognise what it was and why it was bad for her, the determination to change it even though it would probably be much easier to ignore her soul voice, and the courage to share her thoughts.

 

It doesn’t matter that I’ve never had an addiction to weighing myself and have in fact never even owned scales. It doesn’t matter a bit because it’s not actually about the scales. It’s about the ‘things’ we’ve employed in our lives to please others, out of obligation, because we think it’s right, as a way to push down and ignore our own feelings, out of fear, out of a feeling of scarcity, of feeling inadequate, of striving to be better, to appear better to others … ay ay ay! Always negative at the core and always drowning out, ignoring and sometimes consciously contradicting the inner voice of our souls.

 

That inner voice can be a problem, a rebel. It doesn’t care about conformity, doesn’t care about ease, about comfort, doesn’t care about anything but the health of our soul, our essential selves. But that can be inconvenient, can’t it? We argue with it. 

 

But having a body like that WILL make me happier. 

I’m stressed, I deserve a glass of wine, and then another… 

My family can wait - this report is more important than them right now. I’m doing it for them!

 

So we push it down. We dumb it down. We ignore it. We make it go away … until we can’t hear it anymore. And we keep doing the thing that does not make us happier, it makes us weak because we come to depend on it and we are, therefore, stunted in growth until we become aware of it, reach out and kick away the crutch.

 

We all have our ‘things’ and the only way we can become aware of our own ‘things’, our own crutches, and help each others with theirs, is through connection with one another. By reaching out and sharing her crutch, my friend did two important things;

 

1. She made it possible for others to recognise their own crutches, scales or different - she created an opportunity for her friends to identify with her and in turn, possibly become more aware about themselves.

2. She allowed me to recognise similar feelings and challenges that I’ve faced in my own life, and moved me to connect with her in encouragement and understanding.

 

Sometimes we don’t want to tell people about these things, sometimes we don’t even see them for what they are, so deaf have we become to our inner voice. But when we see others sharing their challenges and their journeys, there’s something that rekindles that inner voice. Something that tells us it’s not so bad, it’s nothing to be ashamed of, I’m not the only one. It may be uncomfortable, we may look at that soul voice askance and wonder if it’s possible that it could be right after all. We could still doubt it, but never the less, at the very least, we wonder and maybe, just maybe we reach out to that person. And then magic starts to happen.

 

The real beauty in this is that it gives us the opportunity to recognise that we are not that different from one another. Her thing’s scales, my thing’s alcohol or striving, but at the core of it, the core reasons or motivations for employing the crutches in the first place, for ignoring our inner voice and ending up with a negative habit, are similar feelings. Feelings that have to do with feeling less, of negativity, of a lack of acceptance and an absence of sufficient connection at the root issue.

 

But guess what? If I feel like that, then chances are that other people feel the same. If I’m not perfect, then chances are that others aren’t either. Nobody is perfect. It’s an illusion we create in our minds as a result of our feelings of scarcity and lack and inadequacy, and they’re fed and bolstered by a society of thousands of humans all doing the same. But if we connect enough to know that we’re not alone, then we can probably connect enough to also see that if negativity and lack and scarcity and inadequacy mentalities are possible, then it’s plausible that so too are the reverse. And that’s how we evolve as human beings. Through connection, we become more aware, braver, more aspirational, more free, more loving and more open. Through connection with others, we see what is possible in ourselves.

 

Photo credit: Marcus Jeffrey via Flickr

I like how I've become more adaptive

I wrote the following post a little while ago, but I thought I'd share it today because it's a lot about awareness and many of my thoughts here echo my last post. I'm talking here about adapting to situations and feeling relaxed and free as a result. I bet I also felt a greater sense of connection with my kids that day too. 

 

There are so many things that I wish I knew as a much younger mother. You know, like that it's impossible to have a tidy house with toddlers, and to release that unrealistic expectation. And how to *really* *actually* let things go, as opposed to saying it and knowing logically that you should, but remaining emotionally attached to it all the same.

 

Sometimes it feels like I only really learn something as I'm moving out of that phase and into the next the one, but I guess that's what life and learning is all about. When you really get something, really learn something, then that learning is the thing that opens the door up to the next thing. The lesson, the getting it, is the thing that moves you on and if you haven't learnt it, then you can't move on, it'll be the same problem until you do.

 

Letting go, as in really letting go and being able to enjoy the freedom of being pretty adaptable is probably a characteristic of the older mother, wouldn't you say? Of course there are some very special young mothers who, by dint of their personality and their own character, are very adaptable and 'flowy', but usually it's more common in mothers with a few more years' experience.

 

Part of that experience and also the ability to let go, I think, comes from being able to appreciate your own growth. I know I am hardly a Buddhist Lama, but I also know how far I've come. I can recognise that the way I deal with many situations and incidents these days is a far cry from how I would have reacted once upon a time and that, in itself, feels good.

 

My son discovered he has nits this morning before school. It is his year level's assembly this morning and I was on the canteen roster, but none of my kids are going today. And I'm so fine with that, in fact, even a little happy. A surprise break from the morning rush of breakfast and lunches and a day in the sun because no one's actually sick! I don't feel great about letting the canteen manager down, but I don't feel bad either. I'll help out another day; stuff happens when you have kids.

 

Anyway, I felt good this morning for the simple fact that, 1. this wasn't an issue for me, the nits and the kids staying home, and 2. that I had the presence of mind and the self-awareness ,in practice, not just words, to appreciate that I've grown enough for it to not be an issue and to actually feel good about me.

 

It's a small thing, no earth-shattering achievement here - boring in fact, you may say, but it's funny how being aware of the little things can make, and do make a huge difference. I'm convinced that it's these little, tiny, seemingly insignificant things in life, where we actively practise a positive mindset with awareness, that are actually the big stuff. This is what life is really about. This is part of what's meant by living well. I reckon anyway and I'm sure I'm right because I feel good, aligned and relaxed. If you can find things that make you feel like that with zero negative side-effects, then do it again and again. We are what we repeatedly do.

 

I like how I've become more adaptable and I appreciate the feeling of happiness and freedom it gives me. It feels close to how I felt as a child; when we would adapt without thinking about it - kids are really good at that. And right there is another very good reason why getting back to the child within us is another way of finding our true essence and a very good idea! But that's another fascinating story for another day..... Now off to the pharmacy to buy some nit killer!!! :-D

Photo credit: From Tony Alter via Flickr 

When I'm 80 ...

I've been struggling lately. I feel internally confused, short-tempered and pretty negative in my head. I don't know why. Sometimes I think that looking for outside reasons for feeling yukky is problematic. I mean sometimes it is something 'out there' that we need to change, but sometimes everything 'out there' is just as it should be and the only thing that's a problem is our perspective.

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My husband suggested I tackle these feelings by thinking about how I'll feel when I'm 80 years old and looking back on how I felt about things and how I spent my time. These are some of them ...

I will be proud that I got my degree.

I'll be proud of the time I spent with the kids at school and the work I do as part of the school community.

... to be continued ...