Posts tagged #change

Losing Myself

Losing Myself Mama Pyjama

It’s been a while between blogs…and if I’m honest, it’s because I’ve been staring down the slippy slope to Mama Pyjama Syndrome.   It’s been a reminder of how easy it is to let yourself slip.  Before you know it, you’re back in the cycle of letting life happen TO you, instead of actively participating in the living. 

I’ve been under a big chunk of pressure at work.  I remind myself daily that I’m not out there saving lives…but ultimately, I’m still trading forty hours of my life a week for this.  My life: my time with my kids, my time with my husband, my time for me.  It needs to be for something more than just the money.  There needs to be value in the trade-off, because when there’s not, it’s deflating and disempowering.  It just feels...wrong.

I’ve been absorbing so much of the negativity around me that it’s started to grow inside me and is making its way out of me in the form of complaints and judgements.  This is not who I am.  This is not the person I want to spend my life with. 

This is how it starts.  We’re going through the motions; feeling unfulfilled.  We’re doing stuff, throwing our heart and soul into it, and we’re getting little in return.  We’re working ‘round the clock but no one’s noticing.  We’re slowly fading.  Wearing down.  We didn’t have time to do the stuff we like to do last month, last week…and now we’ve pretty much forgotten about it altogether.  There’s no time right?  Everything else is more important, right?

Wrong.  This is the problem.  Whether the current demand is raising our newborn, or running our household of teenagers, or managing our career, or all of the above – the impact is the same.  If we put our ‘self’ on the backburner, all of this will be in vain.  What’s it all worth in the end?  When the demand and pressure lifts …what’s left of you? 

I’ll tell you what will be left.  A shell.  Oh sure, it’ll be a super-functioning shell, and people will no doubt shout praise about all the things you DO.  They’ll say how you “always get the job done”; how you’re “always there for them”; how they “don’t know how you do it”.  But what will they say about WHO  you are?  What you’re passionate about?  What sets your heart on fire?  What would you  say? 

When they ask you what you like to do in your spare time, how will you answer?  … “What spare time?”…Yep, this is the excuse you’ll use to cover up the fact that you can no longer remember what it is you like to do.

So here’s the deal - I can see myself slipping again, but I’m going to pick myself up and I’m going to practice what I preach.  It’s time to redefine my career.  It’s time to put some more colour back into my outfit.  It’s time to smile, to breathe deeply, and to embrace the new day when it breaks.  It’s time to remind myself of the importance of the present moment.  If it’s not working for me, I’m going to change it.  If I can’t change it I’m going to follow the wise advice to “change my attitude”.  We create our own reality.  The challenges before us are there to help us grow, learn, mature, heal.  I will embrace and treat them accordingly. 

There is time for me.  There is ALWAYS time.  I will plan a catch up with my best friends.  I will book in a night out.  I will find something fun to do with the boys that is active and creative, and I will get up and get out of the house with them no matter how overwhelming that feels.  I will achieve the goals I have set myself and I will do it with a positive mindset.  I won’t waste my breath complaining or judging the behaviours of others.  Right at this very moment, someone is taking their last breath.  I’m going to make damn sure my next breath counts. 

Perspective

"Change your perspective"

"Change your perspective"

I remember being eleven years old… trying to find my way…trying to make sense of my world in the midst of my parents' divorce.  I felt many things – confusion, anger, shame, hurt, loss...even apathy.  In short, I felt like my world had been turned upside-down and I didn’t know how to put everything ‘right’ again. 

I have a distinct memory of lying on the kitchen bench of my childhood home, just staring at the ceiling.  Commotion all around me.  I remember my mind suddenly quiet.  I remember how the world faded in that moment and I was filled with the sound of silence - as white as the ceiling, as clean as the paint untouched.

I remember the thought as it was born, “What if my world really had turned upside-down?".  What if I could be the one to walk on this pure untouched ground for the first time?  What if doorways were steps and lights extended from the ground up? What if this whole new, quiet, serene world had been laid out just for me ?  

It was like seeing everything for the first time. Everything looked beautiful and new and pure...everything seemed possible.  I learnt in that moment that sometimes we need to turn our world upside-down just to see it for how it really is. 

There is always a choice - you can face your challenges with fear and resentment, or you can view them as opportunities to experience something new, to shape a better life for yourself, to live the full extent of the life you have been given.  I was in for huge changes in the months and years that followed, and it was tough…but I had hope. 

Through tears, and no doubt some tantrums and angst - ultimately in that moment, I chose to view my challenges as opportunities.  And truth be told, the life that unfolded in front of me was full of light and shade, depth, colour, joy, and challenges….'opportunities' that would not have opened up for me should things have remained as they were.

I have carried this memory with me through my teen years and into my adult life.  There are times I have needed more than ever to remember the clarity I felt in that moment.  I will often lay and stare at the ceiling in times of overwhelm.  It grounds me.  It gives me a sense of calm.  It reminds me that there’s always another perspective - another way to view your world, your challenges and the changes that are taking place in your world. 

It’s so important to have ways to process your emotions in challenging times.  Sometimes I forget, and I realise that my hands are shaking, I’m wearing my shoulders as earrings and my temper is short.  These times have been more regular since becoming a parent.  It’s a combination of many things, not the least of them being lack of sleep, shifts in priority, and the stress of being responsible for another person’s life.  If there was ever a time to focus on managing my stress, it is now.   I try to remind myself regularly to keep perspective, to breathe and to forgive myself when I get things wrong.  And as I move through life and the challenges I face change and evolve, I remain open to new opportunities to grow, and suggestions on ways to more effectively process my emotions and manage my stress.

Amplified Emotions

Amplified Emotions Mama Pyjama

Yesterday on my way to work I drove past a funeral procession.  I’m a generally empathetic person, but there was something different about this moment.  As a passed I felt the air change, the energy got thick and dark and I felt swept into a great wave of grief.  Moments before I was relishing the sunshine thinking how much better I felt with the change of weather, and then bang - out of nowhere I was engulfed by an overwhelming sense of loss and pain.  I burst into tears, I felt an enormous lump in my throat and I all-but had to pull over.  It wasn’t my pain, it wasn’t my experience, it wasn’t my loss…but I felt it as real and as raw as if it were my own. 

I arrived to work to be greeted by the tragic news of the baby boy that had died in his father’s car.  My grief compounded.  I felt sick to my stomach.  I cannot fathom the pain, the shock, the grief, the regret, the horror that those people must be experiencing right now. 

I don’t know if it’s a parent thing, a growth thing, or just an evolution of awareness…but the intensity of my emotions seems so much greater at this point in my life. 

Perhaps a big part of it is tied up in having children…I recall a moment shortly after the birth of my first child.  I was watching TV and "Law and Order – SVU" came on.  It was a show I had once watched regularly, but this time about three minutes in I had to shut it off.  It’s amazing how in an instant our perspective of the world can change completely.  All of a sudden shows like these, the news, even commercials, could have me in a crumpled mess on the couch, tears streaming, sick to my stomach.

As they say, every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  With great love comes great fear.  Fear of loss, fear of hurt…the fear that is borne from the realisation of just how vulnerable we all really are.  Yesterday was an all-consuming reminder. 

But my love for my children transcends everything - even the fear that it brings forth.  There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for them.  Nothing.  So I’ll embrace the intensity of yesterday as it is a reflection of the depth of love I feel for my family, and the compassion I hold for those who are suffering.  And I’ll tell you all again how grateful I am to have the blessing of my children. 

Parenting is hard - really, really hard.  It’s a rollercoaster of emotions – anxiety, love, fear, guilt, pride, panic, doubt, joy…but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank the universe for my place in it and for the family that surrounds me.  My heart bleeds for those whose children have passed on before them.  I cannot begin to imagine the world of sorrow and despair that must engulf them.  I hope that some light survives the darkness of their days and that they can somehow find a way to let their love outshine the grief that they will no doubt carry in their hearts forever.   

Routine Disruptions

"I'll eat when I'm ready!"

"I'll eat when I'm ready!"

When I was pregnant, I had grand plans for my life with baby.  These plans were largely based on the stories and advice of other parents, both real and imagined (by ‘imagined’ I mean those gracing the cover of my Who magazine each week).  I envisioned café visits with friends - my baby happily sitting in its cradle as I chatted away.  Picnics in the park - pretty rug, cute kid giggling, me enjoying homemade sandwiches.  Family nights out - fish and chips on the beach, barefoot baby, sunset walks…

Seriously, was I on drugs??

Jokes aside, I knew that my life was going to change…a lot.  I knew that nights out would become rare and nights up with baby would become the norm.  I was well aware of the enormity of what I was doing and that significant lifestyle changes would result…but I was still clinging to this notion that if I could get my baby into a routine and get them ‘used to' going out and mixing with other people, then I would still be able to do all the things I’d imagined.  That is what everyone kept telling me – as if that was the simple key to successful parenting. 

When my baby came along I quickly realised that this was not going to be.  I didn’t get the ‘coffee and cake kid’, I got the ‘put a five point harness on me and I’ll find three ways to break out, two ways to launch myself out of the highchair, and one way to successfully end your café visit before your coffee is percolated’ child :).

So what did I do?  Well, what do most of us do at times like these?  We look for solutions, we look for ways to make things ‘work’ again.  We look for ways to fit square pegs into round holes.

That’s when I fell into the trap of trying to ‘fix’ something that wasn’t necessarily broken in the first place…

Just Google feeding or sleep times for newborn and you’ll be bombarded with information from ‘experts’ on how often your child should sleep, feed, poop, wig out…oh no, that’s right they don’t talk about the ‘wigging out’ ;).  There’s a world of information on getting your newborn into a routine, what you should be doing, what you shouldn’t be doing – how doing everything you’re told to do will result in a baby that sleeps all night and a mum that can play all day.  Pressure much?

I remember scratching out my feeding times on whatever piece of paper I could find within arm’s reach, feeling inadequate because I couldn’t remember a simple thing like picking up the ‘mother’s journal’ someone had gifted me to neatly record each and every feeding time of my child for the first three months of their life.  I remember feeling so overwhelmed as I looked to other people for advice about how often to feed, when my baby should be sleeping, for how long, when their sleep cycles shift or decrease…because my child just didn’t FIT the recommended routine (at all). 

I was so consumed with being able to plan my days around my child because everyone else seemed to be able to lock in solid ‘catch-up’ plans with me whilst I was scratching my head, living from moment to moment, never knowing 30 minutes ahead of time when my baby (IF my baby) would sleep…that I lost sight of what was possibly much more important. 

I didn’t bring my baby into this world to fit neatly into my life.  I EXPECTED that my life would be turned upside-down.  I expected that I would need to make changes and adjust my lifestyle.  I guess I just didn’t anticipate how hard it would be to let go of the false expectations I had set up during pregnancy.  Everyone said it was just a matter of getting them into a routine, while nobody mentioned that some babies have feeding issues, sleep issues, digestion issues etc that make a ‘routine’ virtually impossible. 

I also hadn’t anticipated how much all the external pressures and expectations of others would impact me.  People assuming that because they could do it, I could too.  People that forgot what it was like to have a newborn and expected that you’d be able to turn up, on time and (how dare they expect it) fully-dressed.  I didn’t anticipate the pressures that are borne through COMPARING your child’s sleep/eat routines with others.  Amongst all the chasing, comparing, trying, wishing, questioning, needing, wanting, begging, recording, charting, researching…I lost sight of one key point.  My baby needed me.  They needed me to feed them when they  felt hungry.  Put them to bed when they  felt tired.  Change their nappy when they  felt wet. 

Children don’t come with a manual for a reason…they, like us (as parents) are all different.  Sometimes there’s peace in letting go and accepting things for what they are.  It’s ok to break the rules sometimes, and to go against the advice of experts, friends and family.  It’s ok to follow your gut or to do all the ‘bad’ things if it means you’ll get an extra bit of sleep, or a break from the crying.  These days don’t last forever, it will fall into place eventually and you will get your life back and some semblance of routine.  The time to get there just sometimes takes a little longer...but why cause yourself further stress by trying to do things that just aren’t working just because it is the best approach for the majority?