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Posts Tagged ‘mothering’

Two moments I will share with you:

A while ago, maybe a couple of months, it was after lunch and I was in a bad mood. It had been a long week in the house, lots of rain which meant not much outside play time and I was feeling cramped and suffocated within these walls. It was no one’s fault, Alice was sleeping, Estelle busy playing in her room. I was hanging clothes inside the house on the airer hoping to finally get some wet laundry dried. For the last 20 mins, Estelle had been running back and forth between the kitchen and her bedroom, I could hear her digging through the jumble in the tupperware drawer but didn’t pay any attention to it. My nerves were on edge, I felt snappy and dark and impatient. I decided I’d had enough, get me out this house and to the shops! Anywhere!

Alice woke up and I quickly got her changed, grabbed a nappy bag and called out, “come on Estelle, let’s get in the car”. I waited. And waited. A hot angry monster started stirring inside my belly. “Come on! I’m waiting!”. She called out to me, “I’m nearly ready mum”. I stood there for another minute letting the flames of anger spark up, take light and engulf me. I don’t know why I was so cranky, I just was. It felt good to be cranky, so I was.

Estelle emerges from her bedroom, a beautiful smile from ear to ear, slowly and ever so carefully balancing in her arms our Tupperware ice block set. She had gone through the drawer and found the tray, every container, stick and lid and put them all together. She says, “Mummy I make us dessert”. She made her way to the fridge, opened the door and put it on the shelf.

My heart melted. I thought, who do I think I am? What was so important that I couldn’t check to see what she was doing first? Why am I behaving so horribly?

If someone was yelling at me down the hallway the way I had, I certainly wouldn’t come out with a smile on my face!

……………………………………….

We were leaving soon for playgroup, Estelle was dressed and ready, I was busy dressing the baby and packing up all our stuff to take.

I gave her the countdown, ” 5 minutes until we leave, darling”.

I raced around tidying the house, packing the morning tea, and all those other things that must be done.

“Let’s brush your teeth now please”, waiting….no answer. I could hear her chattering away in her room.

I went in to her room, “Come now please!”

She burst into tears, “I don’t want to go, leave me home!”

I sat down and softened myself. I tried to understand what she would be feeling.

Here she is, sitting in her room with all her dolls lined up in a row and the basket of dolls clothes emptied. She is carefully sorting through it, matching the outfits and dressing her babies.

I asked her which doll she would like to bring with us and what she would like them to wear. She chose her girl Jessie and the ballerina dress. We had a hug and talked about the fun things we would do at playgroup and what friends she was looking forward to seeing. She got up with Jessie in her arms and went into the bathroom. I followed her, feeling grateful that I was able to meet her need in that moment. I got it right for once!

Sometimes I find the huge emotions of a three year old exhausting. It’s hard to keep up. I read this blog the other night and it reminded me of something, that tantrums and outbursts are outward expressions of inner confusion. I knew this, but needed reminding.

What is 5 minutes to a three year old? Why would I tell Estelle we’re leaving in 5 minutes and expect her to come when I tell her to? She has no comprehension of time like this.

What could be so important that I can’t go in and see what she’s doing first? She is completely absorbed in her world of play, every game is so real. How can I pull her from this world without first meeting her there?

I am so grateful for, and always amazed at the unlimited forgiveness from a child. And also hopeful that I can be open and willing to change my attitude when I need to.

No persons work is more important than anothers. Whether it be making imaginary iceblocks or performing brain surgery.

Both just as real and just as meaningful to the people involved.

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Balanced.

A state in which all areas of my life can exist harmoniously together.

The mother in me is calm, endlessly patient, prepared for anything.

The woman in me is energised, inspired, motivated.

My creative spirit is busy, satisfied, but always hungry for more!

Ok, I have to stop here…

I actually laughed out aloud when typing that last line.

Balanced, ha! For me, a well balanced life seems to be some mysterious, elusive state of being I am yet to experience!

I would love to be one of those people who have birthday presents stored away in the cupboard months in advance, have a cleaning routine, who plan their weekly meals and shopping lists down to the last grain of rice.  But alas, I am not.

I am the mum making cupcakes at 10 o’clock at night for my daughter to take to kindy the next day. In fact, I was racing to Woolies at 8 o’clock to get supplies to make them…

I have been known to be cutting the thread from the last stitch on a present on the way out the door to the party.

When I can no longer see through my oven door, and the burnt, crusty lump sitting on the bottom tray (which I think used to be melted cheese) keeps smoking out my kitchen, I will clean it.

I write down 3 or 4 meals for the week on my shopping list, then I get bored and think, “no worries, I’ll wing the rest”. Then we end up having eggs on toast 2 nights in a row.

I am taking deep breaths to calm myself, yelling in frustration, crying in shame and wrapping my apologetic arms around my child all in the one swift movement.

Don’t get me wrong, I do earnestly try. But if life is delicate juggling act, then I regularly and spectactularly drop the balls on the ground.

What I hope is that the people who love me can see I want to be there when they need me, to be honest and authentic, to listen, to love. That although I may be disorganised, I will make cupcakes even at midnight because I know how important it is to feel special. That when I can’t be a good example of patience, I can be a good example of a heartfelt apology.

This is me, I am real. Not perfect.

And in my imperfection, I grow and learn. I become more and more resourceful.

Like when I somehow ended up with not one clean, dry nappy in the house. That was when I discovered one of the many uses of a tea towel.

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Here are three little stories from my life.

The first one is about a moment I shared with a lady at the nursing home I work at. This lady is very quiet, very serious and often doesn’t even acknowledge that you’ve spoken to her. Sometimes leaving you unsure about whether or not she is comprehending what you’re saying. I went to her room to assist her down to the dining room to have lunch. I asked if she enjoyed her visit with her daughter, no  response. I asked if she was a bit hot with her jacket on, she shook her head. Conversation with her was like sucking blood out of a stone, really. When we got to the table I helped her into her chair and noticed a giant bowl of decorative wooden fruit that the cleaner had just put on the table. I said, “Gee you know times are tough when they serve you wooden fruit for lunch!”. The lady looked at me and started howling with laughter! I was quite startled by her reaction because I had never seen such a response from her. I too started laughing. And not just a giggle. That kind of deep belly laughing that completely consumes you, like you have lost power over your own body. We couldn’t stop. We both had tears streaming down our cheeks. I’m sure the other residents making their way down for lunch thought we had gone off the deep end, but it didn’t matter. In that moment, in that ridiculous moment, we connected.

A couple of weeks ago I took my Nanna to the shops so she could get some things she needed. As we were walking into the supermarket she said to me,

” Emmy, I miss Ernie.” This may have been a strange thing for her to say as we had just left Ernie sitting in his chair at home. A few months ago Ernie was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. One week he was driving, gardening, living his life. The next he is weak and fighting for his life. His diagnosis was a huge shock for our family. This is a man who has never been sick in his life. Nan and I  kept on walking and I took her hand. I thought about her words. I thought through the layers of meanings in those words. She misses him. The conversation he no longer has the breath for. The things he used to do around the house. The afternoons they used to spend looking at boats down by the bay. The life they had which will never be the same. My hand held her hand,  and my heart held her sadness. I shared the load even if just for that moment.

Today Estelle fell asleep in the car on the way home from kindy. I carried her inside and she slept for a while longer on her bed. When she woke up she was in a mess. She was crying hard. Big, shaky, breathless sobs that rattled through her little body. I held her, that didn’t work. I took her outside to cuddle the guinea pigs, that didn’t work. I tried everything. She wasn’t interested. So she sobbed on and on for over an hour. I really had to get dinner started so I stood at the bench, with her wrapped around my legs, quickly trying to chop some vegetables. While I peeled carrots, I took a moment of silence in my mind. I noted the anger that was rising in my belly, and the thoughts that were racing through my head. I wanted to yell at her to stop! I fought my words and bit my tongue. When the vegies were done, I took her hand and walked her into her bedroom where we sat on the floor. Her in my lap, taking deep, frantic gasps as the tears were subsiding. I sang a song to her. She enjoyed this, but the second I finished singing she started wailing again. I took a breath and softened myself and said to her quietly and calmly so that she had to hush to hear my words, ” Estelle we need to find something that will help you to feel better. I’m going to read a book to you to see if that will help you find some peace.” I chose a book off the shelf and started reading. That was all it took, she was there, lost in the story with the little rabbit who was searching for spring.

The most important thing you can offer to another person is connection. Being there with them and ready to meet their need in that moment.

As a mother I do this all the time, every day. Meeting the need as it arises is necessary to maintain a peaceful home. Sometimes this means taking a bucket of soapy water out to the backyard with cups for some splashy fun, if you can feel a tantrum brewing. Or bundling everyone out the front door for an impromptu walk to the park to release some restless energy, or for me to get some fresh air when a long day at home is getting a little suffocating. Or making a cubby and snuggling down inside with a book to have some cuddle time. Often it means resisting the urge to act on my feelings when I know that it’s not what is needed in that situation.

This can be a really hard thing to do. Often I miss the mark. I say things that make a situation worse. I get caught up with my emotions and my peaceful parenting ends up sounding a lot like a harsh, raised voice! Or I get caught up with my emotions and instead of just listening to what my friend has to say I start telling them what they ‘should’ do and say. Or justifying my words and actions to them. But in the end, whatever I have done or said is really unimportant. What is important is their perception of it. If they have felt hurt by my words, there is no need to justify what I have said them. All that is needed is apology.  Seeing what is needed in that moment and meeting that need. Being open and ready to connect. Sometimes  the most difficult, but certainly the most precious thing you can do.

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These are some thoughts I had a minute ago about being a mother.

I look at the way other women mother their children. Sometimes I think, “wow, I wish I had her patience/ideas/knowledge/life experience/energy….” and compare myself and my mothering, sometimes even break myself down into pieces over it.

I struggle with fears about damaging my childs beautiful spirit when I lose my cool.

Some days I feel like a mess. I just can’t get it together and I aimlessly flit around the house doing a little bit here, a little bit there but never really achieve anything.

I question my reasons for discipline.  Am I being too harsh? Or am I being walked all over?  Am I doing the right thing in this situation? Is this behaviour acceptable or not? I want her to be her own person but she still needs to have boundaries, where is the line?

Some days it seems to me as though I have no idea what I’m doing. Too many books, too many theories, too much to take in. And how do I take ideas from a book and apply them to my life?

Then sometimes there are moments when there is some inexplicable magical understanding that passes between mother and child and we are in harmony, like two well oiled wheels spinning side by side, along the track. All the effort and patience invested day in, day out makes these times shine.

Always, I try to remind myself of this. Something I truly believe. Any decision I make for my children will be the right one, because I am their mother.

Any person in the world can have a theory on how I should be raising my children, but they don’t know us. They don’t know the connection we have. They haven’t been there with me in the dark hours of  a sleepless night holding a feverish baby. Listening to her whimpering, feeling her pain. Sharing her fears over a bad dream. Kissing her bump on the head. Waiting out a tantrum in the middle of a shopping centre. Smiling with delight as she clapped her hands for the first time, called me mum or put on her own shoes.

I think my ideas on parenting will be ever evolving.

For me, mothering is done moment to moment.  I know what my values are. I know the decisions we have made about how we will guide our children to make correct behavioural choices. These things are consistent. I also know that the language children understand is time.

When I think back on my childhood I remember my mum building cubby houses with us, reading books, telling stories, hanging out in the kitchen doing homework, watching her cook and laughing together. What I remember is the time she invested into our love banks. I know that the time I have with my children here at home with me is such a small chapter in my life long story.

So I try everyday to slow down. Be in the moment. No person can do everything. I know I don’t.

If we want to spend some time doing craft together, there is washing that isn’t being folded. If we want to go for a walk to the park, there is dinner that will probably be on the table a bit later than usual. But the way I see it, people are more important than housework. In the end, the kids do get fed and they have clothes to wear.

Every woman has her passions/talents/giftings. Obviously, I love to do craft. So this is what I share with my children and it gives me such pleasure to see them enjoy doing something that I love. I think it’s important to share your passions with your kids. They see and feel the intentions behind everything we do. Also by spending my time doing craft with my kids, it helps me to meet my needs while they stay occupied. So share what’s in your heart with your kids, it will be rewarding for you!

I know sometimes I find it hard to keep my flame alive (as a woman and a mother) when I’ve had no sleep because the kids have been sick or it’s just been a really long day. So I’m always on the look out for ‘soul inspiration’ to keep my fire for life burning. It may be a song or an article or a blog post that resonates in me, gets me thinking and gives me that little bit of what I need at that moment. Here are a few links that you other ladies out there may appreciate if you too are needing a little ‘soul inspiration’:

If you have something you would like to share, please do!

We are who we are. What I have to offer to my kids may not seem enough in my mind, but if our time together making collages out of magazine clippings and colouring in toilet rolls is what speaks love into their beings than I have suceeded.

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My girl Estelle, is a ‘hands on’ lover.

She loves to cuddle and and touch and get as close as she can to the object of her affection.

This includes the guinea pigs,

Toby the super poodle,

her sister,

daddy,

her dolls,

and anyone else who catches her eye.

So translated into our everyday life, I spend a whole lot of my day sounding like a broken record,

“Estelle let go of Alice’s face she needs to breathe”

“Please stop kissing Alice darling, her hair is all wet”

“Estelle lie next to Alice, not on her”

” Careful not to cuddle the guinea pig too tightly”

“The guinea pig is too big to fit in that handbag darling”

“Pleeeeease give Alice some space!”

I don’t like to harp on like that, but it is somewhat essential to the safety of the individuals who are much smaller than her that I do.

This morning I was sitting on the couch feeding Alice and Estelle was sitting next to me holding her hand.

Estelle said to me, “Mummy she’s holding my hand. ”

I said, “is she sweetheart?”

She let out a big sigh. “Mum, she just makes me love her so much all of the time.”

I smiled. I get that. I totally get that. Then I had a light bulb moment.

This girl of mine has so much love in that little heart of hers that it’s hard to keep it all in.

If she didn’t pour it out all over the ones she loves her heart could very well burst.

Being nearly three can get pretty tough, so many big emotions in one tiny body.

I will tuck this precious memory away for the next time I can feel my patience for her ‘smothering tendencies’ wearing thin.

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*warning* : you may want to get a cuppa! This will be a long read!

I went to a Blessingway on the weekend for one of the beautiful mama’s from our playgroup. It was a very special morning, led by the lovely Jen, which brought a group of women together and offered to this mama who is on the verge of giving birth to her new babe, a real sense of the love and support she has behind her as she enters this new phase of life. We went around and told her the things we appreciate about her and the blessings we wish for her. We shared some special moments between friends, and worked together on a beautiful felt mat for her to keep as a reminder. When it was time to go, there was a beautiful energy that had been created in her home where she will have the baby. It was a wonderful thing to be part of, and I will cherish the memory forever as I’m sure she will.

Since then, I have been thinking about my births and the amazing way they have changed me as a person. I personally don’t know how birth can not change you. Here are my thoughts and feelings about my births, not to be mistaken as a judgement on anyone else or other people’s choices.

Before I had Estelle I was absolutely petrified about giving birth. For some reason, it has become a part of our culture to terrify any pregnant woman with nightmarish stories of experiences in the birth suite. And I was no different. Everyone came to me with their stories of blood and gore,  overwhelming pain, them screaming at their husbands and the absolute dependency on drugs to make it through the horrific curse of labour.  So needless to say, the seed of fear had been firmly planted in my heart. I went 10 days over my due date, so then were also the stories of how terrible my induction was going to be, and in the end I thought I would be lucky to ever survive to see my baby!

I was sitting on the couch watching tv at 11:30 pm , restless and sleepless with worry at the thought of being induced the next morning. I heard this enormous ‘pop’ inside my body. I had no idea what could make such a loud noise from within; turns out it wasn’t my brain exploding, it was my waters breaking.

Then, within moments it was action time, contractions coming 2 mins apart and lasting for at least a minute.  I was afraid. I fought for control over my body. I tried to force my self to be calm (talk about a paradox) but I had already been convinced that there was no way anyone could survive birth, so really, I was getting ready to die. (drama, drama!)

By the time we got to the hospital, only a 5 minute trip down the road, I was completely absorbed by the pain of the contractions. I got into  the shower and agreed for the midwife to give me some Pethidine. Big mistake. I am a person who is very sensitive to pain killers, even Panadol makes me feel drowsy so a shot of Pethidine in the leg pretty much rendered me unconscious.

Then I lost 4 hours of my life. All I remember is that I wanted to move into a more comfortable position but couldn’t because I was so whacked out. When I finally come to , the midwife is telling me to push. I had no urge to push. But apparently it was time to push, so I did!

Then I realised it was going to hurt, so I stopped. I held in. I didn’t want to push, I was ready to go home now thankyou very much.

But anyway, Estelle’s here now so obviously I did push her out. But not without being extremely afraid of what was happening. When I look back now over these memories, I feel sad for myself that I had those deep-rooted feelings of fear. It was crippling. I was left with a bad taste in my mouth about the whole process of  birth and I think I was actually a bit traumatised by it.

In the next 2 years before I fell pregnant with Alice, I was determined to change my attitude towards birth. I did want another baby, it was only the birth that I had a problem with. I started reading heaps of books and positive birth stories. I wanted to get to the point where I was confident and fearless about labour.

I read a book by Sarah J. Buckley called Gentle Birth, Gentle mothering which if you have an interest in natural birth is an awesome read! There is a chapter in the book called Birth, she is dying which talks about the way our society has made birth so clinical and like an operation, instead of a natural bodily function and sacred and beautiful thing for a woman to experience. This totally resonated with me. If there was one thing I wanted birth to be, it was sacred and beautiful. Doesn’t that make it sound so much more appealing!?

So when I fell pregnant, I decided that I would keep feeding my soul with positive birth stories, and stop people from filling my mind with negative rubbish. I read about the effect pain management drugs have on the delicate balance of hormones in your body during labour and how disturbing this balance can cause problems (probably the reason I had no urge to push). I soaked up encouragement from friends, family and trusted that my angels would give me everything I needed. Next thing I knew, I was 10 days overdue again. I was going in to be induced the next day. The fear was creeping back into my heart, it was like this black cancer taking over my mind once again with its darkness, and I knew I had to overthrow it. I asked my angels to give me something to fight the fear. I started looking through some articles on the internet and stumbled on this one line, I can’t even remember who wrote it, “never take away a womans faith in her ability to cope”. For some reason, that was the key to my confidence. I didn’t need to be some birthing  wonder woman, all I needed to do was cope. Awesome. Now that was achievable.

So the next day when I went in to the hospital to be induced. I was calm and relaxed. Not impressed about being induced, but  the hospital had said it was neccessary, so I was ready to go with the flow.  At 4 pm the midwife came and gave me some prostoglandin gel to soften my cervix before the induction.  I was hanging out with Luke, reading a magazine, waiting for a baby.  My mum came to visit me at 7:30pm and while she was there I started feeling some tightenings. The midwife had said I may have some pains as the gel worked, but not to worry, the gel very rarely sends a woman into labour. So I didn’t worry. Right before mum left around 8pm  the tightenings became like strong waves. I was having one huge one lasting at least 40 seconds and then two quick ones lasting about 20 seconds on top of each other, with not much of a break in between. They were drawing me in. I was closing my eyes, riding the wave and feeling my body work. After mum left I buzzed for the midwife to come. I told her I thought I may be in labour. She smiled and said, “probably not, but we’ll check if anything is happening”. Yes, I was in labour. Four centimetres dilated. Yes, I would like to go to the birth suite and have a shower please.  Walking from the ward to the birth suite, I felt a change. I felt the hormones of labour wash over me and my body started working hard. I couldn’t wait to have the hot water of the shower on my back.

When we got to the room, the midwife was doing paperwork and pottering around and I knew she didn’t realise how fast I was progressing.

I did. I felt the power of my body. I felt my self being taken into a dream. I felt the birthing energies of the millions of women who had birthed on this earth before me, their power was right there with me in the room. This energy, the rhythm of the waves through our bodies, is the common thread that stitches us together in time. In that dream, there was no one in that room but me and my baby, working together. I was silent, breathing heavily into my core. I could hear the voices of the midwives and Luke, but I was lost in labour land!

I walked into the bathroom and I had no words, “water” “mat” “hot” “pushing now”, was pretty much all I could manage. Luke got the meaning. I dropped down to my knees, my legs trembling under the force of the contractions. I felt the baby plunge through my body. I knew what this was; transition. A noise escaped my throat; a deep, primal roar. The only noise I had made the entire time! It surprised me, I didn’t intentionally do it, it just happened. The midwife said to me, “Emma, don’t panic.”  Thankyou angels for those words. They were exactly what I needed. I didn’t panic, I surrendered. I gave over to the power of my body. I was amazed at the sense of calm I had as I felt the baby make her way down. I knew it would be over soon and she would be in my arms. I actually had the thought, “this isn’t that bad”. In fact, it felt good to let my body push! And then, there was little Alice bear lying on the mat in the shower, looking up at me. She was so peaceful, so alert, taking everything in. We stayed in the shower together for a while waiting for the cord to stop pulsating. My heart felt too big for my body. I was back on earth, back from my dream and here with my baby. All I could think was, Amazing. It was 8:30pm. Half an hour from the time I buzzed the midwife.

Alice’s birth was healing for me. I have never felt so empowered, so inspired or so womanly in all my life. I feel so blessed to have had this experience. I’m so glad I searched for something more. Birth is sacred and beautiful. Yes, there was pain involved, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed. I trusted in my ability to cope.  This was one very important lesson I learnt from my birth that has helped me so much in my mothering.  The other thing that really stuck with me is that sometimes there is more power in surrender than in control. Birth is a mighty teacher.

Although I had two natural births, they were completely different. One full of fear, one full of love. The feelings I had towards Estelle’s birth have not affected my relationship with her, and the joy I found in Alice’s birth helped me to find freedom from those fears.

I think that birth is sacred women’s business. Only another woman has been through this experience can truly understand the amazing change it brings inside you. From now on I will be doing my part to make pregnant women feel positive, encouraged and empowered for their birth. And to be open to the lessons for motherhood and life that can come from such an experience. One day it might be just the thing you need to know to make it through the day.

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Today we are all  rather unwell.

Although it hasn’t slowed Estelle’s boundless energy, Alice and I are certainly feeling very sorry for our poor thumping heads.

When I had a bit of energy this morning, I made Estelle a cubby in her room to keep her occupied for a while.

After that, it all got a bit much so I sunk into the couch and admired this mossy little head.

And then wondered about this girl’s fondness for stripes.

Today is one of those days where I’m digging very deep into my reserves to make it through the day.

Mothers, we are the gentle warriors. Our battles usually take place within ourselves.

We fight against our frustrations, against our exhaustion and against our own needs.

But now, the baby is asleep so I’m closing my eyes for a while and pretending that the house isn’t being turned upside down.

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