Monday, 1 September 2014

Iona

Iona is here at last.
I haven't felt like blogging all pregnancy. Feel I might again soon though, looking forward to it.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Settle

Settle

Afloat, waiting, you quietly 
persist.

Promise me you'll 
settle.

                            ..............................................................

Listen,

I know all about 
promises made and received
sincerely.

Dropped like anchors in 
unsettled waters.

I've been there when the holding 
ropes, knit so tight to 
fix us fast,

chafe and unravel in 
ferocious storms. Rip 
apart at breaking strength.

Set adrift to take
my chances, to stay lost in 
the outer reaches, or 
make it back to shore.

Free as the wind 
and just as secure. 

I made it back, in 
the end. Not always home, 
but to unexpected shores.

What I mean is, I've taken 
my chances. I'll take them 
again.

Promises won't hold me.

So, I set myself adrift

with hope.

                      ..............................................................................................

Here is my hope. I hope 
you settle.

Inspired by Paula Meehan, "Playing House".
"Home, you say, let this be
a home for you. Unpack your clothes, hang them
beside mine. Put your sharp 
knife in my kitchen, your books
in my stacks. Let your face
share my mirrors. Light
fires in my hearth. Your talismans
are welcome. Break bread
with me. Settle. Settle."

                    __________________________________________

I'm hoping to have another baby at the end of the summer.  Hoping, not expecting, you see. Though it's looking likely. Bay is mostly happy, while not being sure for a while if we needed another baby. Despite lobbying for one for an age ("But, I didn't really MEAN it!!").  She is busy planning all the things she can teach the baby, like forward rolls and singing.
Perhaps I'll start knitting.  That's a big thing, knitting for a child that isn't here yet. How about this smock?
 
From: Rosylittlethings

Monday, 24 March 2014

4!






You are :-
  • exuberant, physical, loud
  • emotional
  • honest
  • vulnerable
  • funny
  • a champion sulker
  • opinionated
  • a great negotiater
  • a singer, dancer, muscian, artist, maker and doer
  • confident
  • talkative
  • going through a pink and pretty phase
  • very proud
  • curious
  • patient
  • impatient
  • reluctant to go to bed at night - but you do go
  • determined to do almost everything yourself...although not dressing for some reason
You:-
  • love company
  • can ride your new birthday pedal bike 
  • love anything sweet
  • resist control
  • love balancing and climbing
  • come into us every morning, and always give me a kiss before you go for breakfast
  • will give things a go, even if you think you will fail...sometimes with persuasion
  • have lots of imaginary friends
  • still have squashy cheeks and tiny hands
Happy 4th birthday!

Love Mam x

PS I've just spotted there are 5 candles on that cake! Ha ha!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Joy pockets

Source: here
I'm bringing back joy pockets.

I want to focus on the good in my life for a while.

Because I have been too focused on the bad.

Things have gone wrong in my life, as with all lives I am sure, in childhood and otherwise, but it's made me live in fear of things going wrong again. I try to protect myself and stay in control by imagining and preparing for the worst. 
Worst case scenarios.

But I never imagine and prepare for the best.
Best case scenarios.

I think I've numbed myself, lived a half life in shadow.  

And I think we all see what we want to see. And because I've made myself focus on the bad, well, surprise surprise, it seems that's what I see.

Now I'm not talking about the cult of positivity though - where everything that goes wrong is your own fault because you just weren't positive enough.

No.  Bad things just happen sometimes.
Bad things.

But just because you tried to prepare for that worst case scenario, imagined that monster truck careering down the road towards you, doesn't mean it won't hurt you when it hits. That it won't break you. 

But you'll have missed out on life while you waited for the impact.

Good things happen too sometimes.
Good things.

So is there any point in trying to protect yourself at all?

I'm tending to think not.

In hiding out with my fears, in holding onto my insecurities to make me feel secure, I'm missing many of those moments which added together make up my life. I'm only seeing the bad, but I don't believe in or trust the good.  Those moments of joy or happiness, of kindness and flashes of hope.  It's not enough that they are true, that they are - I must notice them.  I must believe in them to experience them.  

And if they are my life, but I am not experiencing them, then am I living at all?

Or am I just existing?

All because I'm afraid of that truck?

The worst won't necessarily come to pass.  And while the best won't necessarily happen either, might it be it definitely won't happen if you can't even imagine it into being?

And the thing is that I have survived anything bad that has happened to me so far. I might have broken down or near enough but I've put myself back together. 

Isn't this a very good reason to live without fear?

Proof, if I needed it, that life goes on?

Yes. But there is also a crucial paradox.

Ultimately of course life doesn't go on forever.  In the end, we will all be broken beyond repair. A truck is on it's way, though maybe not the ones you fear day to day - there's no way around that.

I think there is a choice then.

Cower in the shadows and hope pain won't find you (it will).

Or step out into the light and give life all you've got.Trust in and experience the purity of each moment.  Roll with the beauty and the pain. 

Because one thing is certain.  None of it is forever.

Realising that I've been stuck in a pattern of seeing the bad things, for now I'm going to focus on the good things. And only the good things. I'm not turning my back on the bad - just turning away for now.  I'm re-tuning.  Leaping back from that grim imagined future.

Dealing in best case scenarios.  

Free falling into the moments.  My life. 

And this is why I'm bringing back joy pockets, and here they are:-
My biggest joy pocket of all.

  • the bittersweet last few months of her being 3
  • thinking if she is self-aware at 3, she will be ok, and proud of her and myself for how I've guided her in this  "Mammy I am sorry for saying I would never cuddle you again.  I was angry about the apple falling".
  • her expression last night when I told her people knitted blankets for her before she was born as she was loved even then.
  • finding a cherry tomato and a clementine packed away in Tupperware boxes in her play kitchen
  • seeing how open and loving she is with people - but not indiscriminately so
  • new lights in the kitchen and dining room
  •  a two week holiday booked in Portugal 
  • a reassuring visit to the school we have in mind
  • an architect came to see the house - if we could afford the vision it would be brilliant
  • the sun is out today and everything is golden
  • starting to suspect that I am normal and acceptable after all - reading this book Introvert Power and therapy
  • more birds are coming into the garden
  • listened to this radio play Aonach Hourne - suspenseful, beautiful and heartbreaking
  • the realisation that it could be a very good thing to just be what I am and to stop denying it or apologising for it
I'd love to read about your joy pockets if you'd like to share.

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Conscious Parenting: You are enough

Source: Pinterest
"And there’s this: parents who, particularly in this country, are expected to be superhuman, to raise children who outpace all their peers, don’t want to see what we see. The long truth about their children, about themselves: that none of it is forever....Our experiences have taught us how to parent for the here and now, for the sake of parenting, for the humanity implicit in the act itself" Emily Rapp.

Have you heard about the author and academic Emily Rapp?  Emily lost her three year old son to the terrible disease Tay Sachs last year. 

In parenting a child who would have no future, Emily learned a profound lesson.
That parenting is not about preparing your child for a successful, superior future, perhaps as a reflection of you. She learned a deep truth, in the most brutal fashion - to love her child today for the sake of love itself. 

Reading interviews with Emily affects me deeply.  But what could I take from this? After all my child is healthy - isn't parenting about her future? And I didn't feel like a good enough parent - surely I needed to strive to be the best I could possibly be?

The errors in my thinking became clear to me after attending a presentation course recently through work.  

The presenter at this wonderful course made us all face our fears and vulnerabilities. So many of us were afraid that we were simply not good enough and we were sure to be found out. 

She showed us that it was not about us.  And that we could release those fears by taking the spotlight off ourselves and focusing on the audience, what they needed from us and what we could offer. 

Most profoundly of all it turned out that what they needed from us was for us to have the confidence to be ourselves.  To believe that what we had to offer was enough, and to stop trying to smooth out our flaws. For this was how we would engage and connect with them.

And it worked - the presentations on the second day of the course were so much more engaging and enjoyable on the second day, when everyone felt free to just be themselves.

I realised that I had let anxiety and fears into my parenting, and allowed them to damage my precious time with my daughter. Ironically, these were causing me to be a worse parent than if I just let myself be.  

And this is when it hit me.

                                             Parenting is not about me.

Not about my fears that I am inadequate and will damage my child's future.

Not about my need to counter this by trying to be better than others.

Not about my belief that I am not enough, just the way I am.

My child does not need a superior parent.

She needs my presence and love, right now.

And for me to believe that I am enough, with all my imperfections.

And to enjoy and accept her for how she is now, not as some future project.

So that she can believe that she too does not need to be perfect.

                               That she is enough just as she is.

I'm not beating myself up about this.  It is not surprising that I felt this way. Presumably most parents have at least one, if not both eyes on the future. And in itself, I don't think there is anything wrong with wanting the sun moon and stars for your child. 

But there is something wrong with the pressure, so much pressure, to create these kids that out-pace their peers, that do better than their parents, while of course being well-adjusted, kind and compassionate members of society. We feel fear that we will be found lacking if that it not the case.  That we will have failed.  Wasted the opportunity.

And what pressure to heap on our children! 

This pressure eats into the present, affects our time together.

It prevented me from just spending time with my child, hanging around.  I felt the time spent should often involve time something educational, enriching or entertaining.  I felt on show and under pressure to perform.

Gradually I realised that subconsciously I was resisting spending focused time with her. I was always busy busy busy. Anything to avoid the guilt and the admission that I just could not live up to my exacting standards.

No more.  I want to enjoy my daughter for who she is today. To love her for the sake of loving her.  Without an agenda. 

I want to simply share my humanity with her, in all it's imperfect glory.

And believe that I am enough. 

Back to Emily...

"I can see my reflection in his greenish-gold eyes. I am a reflection of him and not the other way around, and this is, I believe, as it should be. This is a love story, and like all great love stories, it is a story of loss. Parenting, I’ve come to understand, is about loving my child today. Now. In fact, for any parent, anywhere, that’s all there is."Emily Rapp




Friday, 3 January 2014

A List (2)

I realise it's  been a while since I made a list, and I love other people's so much.  So, here goes.
If you read this and start your own, please let me know and link it in the comments. As I wrote here before I love that fascinating look inside people's heads. The small, mostly ordinary things along with the sudden upheavals or insights that make up all of our lives.
I find writing this list really crystallises things for me too - brevity being the soul of wit and all...

making : too many plans

cooking : casseroles, beanie, chocolatey chillis. 

drinking : tea, alcohol-free beer

reading : Read Snow child.  It's strength was the examination of grief, which I think the appearance of the child trivialised. Finished Whatever it Takes (a Christmas present).  Unrealistic, caricatured characters, needlessly nasty ending, but still enjoyed it as a light read. Now about to start  A Million Years in a Thousand Miles

wanting : to simplify

looking: for guidance

playing : characters in her imaginary play

needing : sleep as always - when will I start to go to bed before midnight?

bookmarking: business advice books and blogs

wasting : time thinking rather than doing 

sowing : nothing but dreaming of mexican herbs, flowers, tomatillos and greens for the summer

wishing : realising it's not about wishing, but about starting

enjoying : time away from work and commuting

waiting : for my bath to cool

liking : the inspirational people all around

wondering : if I can let go of fear

loving : being kind to myself

hoping : for good news this year

marvelling : at her puzzle abilities

smelling : Christmas tree and cloves

wearing : new bright clothes - I looked up my colours and think I am a winter, which are my favourite colours anyway

listening: getting tired of Christmas music now, would like something completely new

following : Aha parenting

noticing : how people think everything must be fixed

knowing : I don't have to have it all figured out

thinking : being yourself gives other people the freedom to be themselves 

opening : the Christmas biscuits, feel sick

watching: Ted talks

giggling : not giggling much recently - must be rectified at once! 

feeling : cabin fever

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

The magic









I've been trying to write this post all week, but finding it very difficult to get it down.  I'm going to just go with what I've got now.

Done is better than perfect.

So, I've always loved Christmas  but the celebration, togetherness and relaxation get polluted by stress and feelings of obligations and duty. Even around things I love to do, like cooking. Usually it ends in a meltdown. Or several.

It is a habit of mine - psychologically transforming joyful into burden

But not this year.

I chipped away at those overlays of duty and burden.  Yes, there will be busyness when you have people coming to visit, and preparations to make.  When you decide you want to create something good around you. And this time of year does come with certain expectations. But this year I thought about the effect my mood had on everyone else. I reminded myself why I was taking on these tasks.  

                       And I chose to focus on the magic. 

I was getting to spend time with people I love. My husband and daughter were getting quality time with grandparents.  There was lots of food.  Delicious food.  Even if much of it came pre-prepared in a box. Gorgeous music. Conversation. Time to read and rest. And big skies outside my window.

Seriously.  What was not to like?

I slowed down, cut back.  

Let myself and other people off the hook. Accepted. 

Took pleasure in the preparations and saw them as the best use of my capabilities rather than just a big drag.

Simply, I enjoyed.  

I would like to say that this feeling has stayed with me all of the season, but it hasn't.  But I feel as if I am on the right path now.  That my view is changing, even if the way isn't linear or even always forwards. 

What I did not foresee though is that these episodes of calm and joy would give me space to set myself free.

And not just me.

But that is another story.

Which I will tell soon.


Happy New Year!