Morning Monologue

6.20 am: Urghhgh, it can’t be morning already. It can’t be. Be quiet. Go back to sleep. Sleep.

pexels-photo-271818.jpegMorning, darling! How are you? Did you have nice dreams?

Shhh, I know, shhh. It’s almost warm enough. Damn it. Too warm. Shhh, milk is coming.

Ah, that’s better, isn’t it? Taste good?  Hello you. Stop grinning at me with those eyes and drink your milk. Cutie pie. You just enjoy that; I’m going to rest my eyes for five more minutes.

Now what? All dressed and pressed. Off you go. No, don’t take all that clean washing off the shelf. No, it doesn’t live in the wash basket. But thank you for helping. That’s very good. Argh, kiddo, please. Not the nappy cream. Ha! You make me laugh. Stop that. I love you. Fancy some breakfast?

Oh, okay, you want to hold the spoon yourself. No problem. That’s great. Nice job. Let’s take a picture to send to the family. Brilliant job, darling. Mummy’s going to watch and enjoy her own breakfast with both hands today. Ahh. Lovely.

Oh man! That porridge might as well be glue. It’s everywh… how on Earth did you get it there, sweetheart? Sweetheart? Where’ve you gone now? Sweethe…. hahaha, that’s hilarious kiddo. Yes the salad spinner is a great toy but mamma just needs to clean up the breakfast things. You hang out there, ok? Just don’t… uh-ho, how do you un-pause the washing machine? Hang on, wait. Yep, there it goes again. Brrrrr. Round and round. Cool, eh?

A cuddle? Oh thank you, darling. Ahhhh. Do you love your mamma? Yep, she loves you too. Heheh. Tickles! Right. Porridge. Got a clean it up, then playground? Yep. Cool.

You coming this way? I’m going to get dressed too. Ready: peek a boo! Where’s O? Behind my t-shirt? Boo! Behind my sock? Boo! Behind my trousers? B… where are you off to? Hang on. Teeth!

Aw okay, woo want to wrush wine? Wold on, wold on. There, that’s better. Mamma can’t talk with you sticking your toothbrush in my mouth. Here, here’s my brush. You clean my teeth and I’ll clean yours. Teamwork. Nice job.

8.15: Right, let’s get ready to go.

8.45: Sweetie, where are your shoes? Shoes darling? Oh look, there’s one. What’s it doing there? And the other… ah yes, in the draw with the tupperware. That’s where we always keep it.

8.55: Right, shoes on. Ready? Darling… Darling…

 

 

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Learning By Example

Following the example of a toddler makes more sense than you might think. Seriously. At 14 months old, my little man does a lot of things better than I do. Here are just five of the things, in my reverse favourite order, that I reckon we could all learn from the littlest around us:

5. Eat your favourite foods first. There’s no sense is saving the best ’til last as you’ll be too full to enjoy it. Chow down on the cheese and pick at the cucumber if you’ve got room.

4. Look at things carefully. Turn them over, around, upside down, and back to front. Only then, with all your attention spent, can you decide it’s just a wooden spoon and toss it across the room.

3. Anywhere and anything can be fun. Standing in line at the supermarket? No worries. Chat and babble with strangers. Stuck in a waiting room? Take a second and look how the mirror is reflecting the sun. Then try and grab it. Only toy around a set of keys? Get jaggling and make music.

2. Strangers needn’t stay strangers. Meet the world with a smile, seek eye contact, and see who smiles back.

1. When you fall over, do one of two things: stand up and carry on without a backward glance, or sit there as if it was entirely your intention to land with a thud on your backside, ignore the surprised stares and start studying the nearest object with no reference to the fact that two seconds earlier you were running down the hall way. There’s an art to recovering from a fall that only those still learning to walk seem to pull off.

See. From making friends to not carrying two jots about embarrassing oneself, kids have got it down. How we keep them that way is anyone’s guess.

Gently Strong – Strongly Gentle

Yoga teachers often talk about setting intention for practice. (Actually, I don’t know if they do, my yoga teacher is a Youtube channel, and she does, so I presume this is normal.) Anyway, this part is often a struggle for me. My intention is typically to complete the video. Sometimes, however, words do pop into my head. Like the other day, when an intention popped up quite unexpectedly:

Strength.

I want to be strong. Strong of body and strong of mind as well as strong in my opinions and strong in my actions. Healthy, in control, and powerful.

Strong.

However, strength can blur with aggression. If the motivation for seeking strength is based on the wish to overpower others, then it is not for me. I want to be calm, kind and move smoothly through life, not be a powerhouse knocking over anyone in my way. On this note, in popped another intention:

Gentleness.

I want to be gentle. Gentle with myself so as to not push too hard or expect too much. I want to be gentle with others, taking time to recognise each person for who they are without being too quick to judge or condemn.

Gentle.

However, gentleness can become meek and passive. I often worry I’ve spent 32 years apologising for who I am, for my choices and opinions, and that’s no good. I don’t want to be a timid mouse, doing anything for a quiet life.

This episode of thoughts unfolded unconsciously as I landed on my intention in the space of two or three breaths.

Gently strong and strongly gentle.

I intend for my strength to be gentle so that I have power and control over myself without ever feeling the need to exert power over others. I intend to be strong in my gentleness, prioritising the need to act kindly towards myself and others. I intend to hone my principles and values so they are firm, not fixed, and so that I am confident to share them and confident to acknowledge that experience may cause them to change. I intend to be gently strong and strongly gentle, from this moment on.

Until the end of the video, at least.

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Fine Lines

I think the secret to a good life is found in the lines. The fine ones. The wrong side of the line, and life just doesn’t work properly. Too far on the right side of the line, and you’re headed for a giant fall.

Let me explain.

Feeling a little anxiety every now and then is good. A sharp kick of adrenaline keeps us fired up, alert, and ready for, well, stuff. All the stuff that challenges us. Even the stuff that threatens us. Our body has a fight or flight instinct honed in our cave-dwelling days wired up and ready to make sure we have it all covered. Step over that fine line, however, and alertness becomes wired, and a reasoned preparedness becomes spiralling panic. Feeling anxious becomes being anxious. Being constantly anxious, truly anxious, is absolutely no use. It makes us make mistakes and act irrationally Now, it might be tempting to draw the conclusion that one simply should not worry at all. One should be care free and laid back, the closer to horizontal, the better. But that’s no use either. We need a little worry, the occasional burst of anxiety. Otherwise, we’d run a daily risk of getting hit by a bus. And thus the need to pay attention to the fine line. The fine line between feeling anxious when it serves us and being anxious all the time. Walk along the line, and you’re pretty much okay. Fall into being anxious all the time, and you’re screwed. Fall into never feeling an ounce of worry, and you’re also pretty much screwed.

It’s true for almost anything.

There is a fine line between a couple of biscuits and the whole packet. One is a nice treat; the other is a recipe for not fitting into your favourite jeans. Attempt to resist all together and spend your time thinking about the yumminess you can’t have until you give in. The same applies for a couple of glasses of wine verses the bottle. The you of the future is always glad when you walk the fine line between a relaxed drink and inebriation, believe me.

There are fine lines between a deluge of things from the mundane biscuit to the influential role anxiety plays in our life. To name a few: nerves and fear; pride and vanity; accepting responsibility and drowning in guilt; the days with tinges of sadness and enduring depression; allowing people to lean on you and being a doormat; sticking to your guns and stubbornness; being principled and riding a high horse; relaxation and laziness; cleanliness and obsessiveness; sitting down to an episode of Gilmore Girls and binge watching half a season.  It goes on and on. And it’s exhausting. Plus, so many of these facets of life are hard, if not impossible, to control. (I mean, have you ever just watched one episode of Gilmore Girls in a sitting?)

So, it’s no wonder life feels hard sometimes. It’s no wonder we struggle trying to keep on top of things, to make the right choices, and to take control over what we’re feeling since we are always trying to find our balance. What’s more, everyone has their own position on where to draw the line. For one person, three hours on the sofa might leave them feeling rested and ready for the world while the next person despises such idling. There isn’t universal agreement on how far one should go to defend their ideals or at what point organised becomes too organised. We’re not only walking along these tightropes, we’re twisting the rope to our preferred level of slackness, then falling off anyway.

Is there an answer? Probably not. We seem destined to worry either too much or not enough and designed to be either too quick to please or not quick enough to bend our principles. We run around giving ourselves no time to breath, then veg out on the sofa until Netflix asks us how the hell we could still be in front of the TV (only more politely). Of course, we’d be robots rather than humans if we always reacted perfectly to every decision and choice. Still, perhaps a little awareness of the fine lines we walk might be the first step to not falling too far off the path.

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12 Months

It was spring when you arrived, my darling little one. You were small and fragile and covered in slime, redefining beauty forever in my eyes. Cheek to cheek, the nurse introduced us; I knew you immediately and knew a new part of me was forever unlocked.

Since, there have been many long nights. (About three hundred and fifty, if we’re counting.) The first one, however, was not long enough. The room glowed orange and warm as you slept and slept. And I lay there watching you, listening to you breath softly and steadily. If I was to paint peace, I’d paint that room on that night.

On the eve of this March, last March is a blur. Perhaps it’s nostalgia or perhaps it was so, but it seemed that the sun did nothing but shine. Visitors came and went, days and nights blurred, and after those dazed first days, the enormity of the way ahead dawned. Fortunately, for every moment of fear there was an opposite and equal moment of joy. Everything was in balance, from the calm and quiet of you asleep in my lap to the stress and noise of your one am episodes.

Spring is a long way from arriving this year, yet I am surrounded by people who tell me how fast the last twelve months have gone. I roll out the clichés myself when really there have been many, many times when time has stood still. In the bright and glorious days of summer, there was a darkness in me. It would be a lie to say anything else. The truth of it: there have been times when the worst of myself has seemed to be all of myself.

You, however, kept on strong and bright and full of joy. With every challenge you threw at me, you also proved that love is limitless and all-forgiving. Marvelling at you each day, you brought happiness and wonder to the tiniest of things.

Summer rolled into autumn as you began to roll around. From lying to sitting to shuffling, each stage blurred until one day you were a baby no more. You stopped needing me as much. A personality peeked through; we can only wait and see if you are already fixed as a somewhat short-tempered charmer with an infectious giggle and a taste for midnight soirées.

When your time on Earth could be counted in double figures, you found yourself with parents who both worked and stayed home. Another shift, another change. On the year rolled, every week or so a new phase. Every time one thing got easier, another thing got harder, and I wondered if I would ever be able to cope and if I would ever understand how it was possible to love so much.

People talk of the importance of treasuring this time. They tell you to make every moment count, and that it will be gone before you know it. There is some merit in some of that advice. It is sage to note and appreciate all those magical times when the simple life brings happiness: cuddles, long walks, endless rounds of peek-a-boo, and the miracle that is your child laughing. It is true that at times time runs fast. Babies grow up. But this was a twelve months packed with every emotion, much significance, and days and days of indistinct routine.  This was a wonderful twelve months.  This was a twelve months for which I am eternally grateful and without regret. These twelve months were special and magical, but they were also damn hard and filled with moments I’d happily forget. I am so very glad we had them and I am glad they are done.

And the next twelve months? I doubt it will be easier, I know it will not be without frustration and challenge, but if the high points are even half as high, it will be a great year.

 

Feet On The Ground

There’s a pounding in my ears and a pulsing in my brain.

There’s a whirling in my stomach and a rising panic through my gut.

But my feet are on the ground and that ground is firm. It’s supporting. It’s safe.

There are a million thoughts colliding in my mind all competing to be heard.

There are a thousand new doubts multiplying with the old ones.

But my feet are on the ground and that ground is solid and still.

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So when I want to panic, run, and cry, when I want to bury my head and hide, I keep  on walking. Because there is ground beneath my feet, reminding me that all I am is this moment and wherever the next step takes me, there will be something reliable holding me up.

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Who’s That Boy?

Standing at the classroom door, I scanned for you. I was expecting to see you lying somewhere kicking your legs, grizzling in a bouncy chair, or gulping down some milk. I looked once then searched twice. You weren’t there. There were no babies to be seen.

There was, however, a little boy stood grasping a chair and bouncing happily. His eyes were as wide as his grin. With his fine, blonde hair and familiar eyes, he laughed warmly at the sight of me standing panic stricken at the door. His little knees went up and down with enthusiasm and his hand waved in the uncoordinated manner of a child who’s intentions and abilities are still out of sync.

Who was this lovely child so interested in me and where on Earth were you, my baby?

The teacher seemed to sense my unease. She took the little boy by the hands and walked him toward me.

The panic melted away.

In a space of that second, that one terrifying moment, I saw that my tiny baby was a baby no more. In your new surroundings, you stood tall and confident. As delighted as you were to see me, you didn’t need me right then. As happy as the rest of the day was at home, you would have been fine a little longer, stretching yourself a little further. Wrestling you into your winter things and walking you out to the bus for home, I fought an internal battle; a battle where pride and happiness at how far you’ve come fought with sadness that the tiny guy is forever gone.

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