Posts tagged #parent

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.

Waiting

"What are we waiting for?"

"What are we waiting for?"

Ever sat back and thought about how much of your life you spend waiting?  Waiting for the mail to come, waiting for someone to return home, waiting for lunchtime, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for a holiday, waiting for your moment to arrive…

Kind of sad really.  Whilst we’re busy waiting, our life is passing us by without a second thought.

Thinking about the future isn’t a BAD thing.  Having plans and setting goals are essential to our motivation, drive and sense of being.  But filling up all our todays with the notion that tomorrow will bring bigger and better things can be dangerous.  After all, tomorrow becomes today when it arrives, so it’s really not a maintainable approach. 

If you’re in the early months (ok…years) of parenting and stuck in the mode of “survival waiting” (waiting to sleep, waiting to eat, waiting for your partner to return home and save you from your sleep-deprived self), I feel for you.  It is really hard and it can do really nasty things to your motivation and sense of self.  You can get lost in the cycle of waiting – and forget almost completely at times to enjoy the moment you are in.  I know that talk is cheap, and that most things are easier said than done…but if you can try to remind yourself that things WILL get easier, that the time WILL pass without you needing to sit and watch the clock, and all the things you are waiting for will eventually arrive, it may help bring you back into the living moment.  Try to stop focusing on passing the time and start focusing on enjoying the moment for what it brings.

Again, I know, not the sort of stuff you need someone telling you when you’ve got a screaming newborn in your arms and you’re functioning on an hour’s sleep…Perhaps reserve the “survival waiting” for moments like these?

As a parent I’ve found myself saying these sorts of things on a regular basis:

It’ll be easier when they are sleeping through the night. It’ll be easier when they can feed themselves.  It’ll be easier when they can talk, walk, dress themselves, explain what’s hurting, tell me when they’re hungry…the list goes on and on.  It is so easy to fall into this cycle of thinking, and I’m sure it’s pre-programmed in us to get us through the tough times.  But…and I know I risk coming out sounding like an annoying twat, the time really does pass so quickly.  Before you know it they’re off to kindy, dressing themselves and telling you the “right” way to cook their dinner and fix their hair.  We can waste away a lot of these precious baby moments whilst we’re focused on waiting for the next phase to start.  And besides, the reality is that no matter how much hope you are pinning on the next phase solving your current difficulties it will inevitably bring with it its own set of unique challenges. 

There are many other types of waiting, “sanity waiting” for the kids to go to bed so you have you time out, gather your thoughts and do stuff for yourself.  There’s “fear waiting” for the perfect time to follow your dreams, indulge your passions, take that leap of faith.  There’s “anticipation waiting” for the holiday, the weekend, the next big event.  No matter what type of waiting it is, it all comes back to the same dilemma.  Whilst we’re busy waiting, our focus is taken away from the given moment.  Sometimes that moment is bad.  Sometimes it’s boring.  Sometimes it’s tough.  Sometimes it doesn’t bear thinking about.  But sometimes it is great, precious, unable to be captured… sometimes it’s beautiful. 

So let’s try to stop this waiting game, or at least put the brakes on it a little bit.  The time is now.  Enjoy it, indulge in it, live it, survive it, treasure it and put your faith in knowing that everything will continue to tick along in the background with or without you urging it along.

The Up Side

The Up Side Mama Pyjama

I am often reminded of the quote: “While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about”.  Like the other day when my three year old said to me, “I’m happy with what I’ve got…Are you happy with what you’ve  got Mummy?”.  Or today when he stood gazing down our humble, semi-suburban street and turned to say, “Look at the lovely view mummy.  Isn’t it just lovely?”.  He says and does this sort of thing often.  We call him an old soul.  We say he’s beyond his years.  We stand marveling at the depth of his understanding, the magnitude of his empathy…put simply - the way his mind works.

This is one of the wonderful gifts that parenting brings.  It's the ability to see through the eyes of the young.  To view the world again as if for the first time.  To be reminded of what’s really important and what really warrants our energy.

I talk a lot about the challenges of parenting in my blog, so this week I’d like to focus on the great things. 

Here are six things that my children have taught me:

  1. Self-awareness – aided even more by my 3 year old’s new found love of mimicking me.  There’s nothing that brings about self-awareness faster than hearing your words come out of the mouth of a toddler.
  2. Another way to love – a little corny and a little obvious but it can’t go unmentioned.  The ability to offer unconditional, uninhibited, pure love – no matter what.
  3. Where each and every one of my buttons are - and how to push them!  My children have triggered a great deal of personal development! I thank them for that.  I am a better person because of it.
  4. Fun doesn’t require money, alcohol, parties or presents - all you need is your imagination and the ability to leave your inhibitions at the door.
  5. Forgiveness - There’s little that can dull a child’s smile for more than an hour.  Grudges serve no purpose other than to hurt ourselves and shut us off from potential new and wonderful experiences.
  6. That my limits are limitless – Through children I’ve discovered that there is no limit to have far we can go, what we can do, and what we can achieve.  Children can push you to your perceived physical and emotional limits…but just when you think you’ve reached them, you find you have more left to give.  There is so much power in this realisation.

My children have taught me a lot!

In keeping with today's theme, here are six more bonuses!  Things you can do just because you’re a parent:

  1. Dress up – whenever you want, as whatever you like, in costumes that are way too small for you.  Awesome.  Seriously.
  2. Sing – like ALL the time…anywhere...as badly as you please.  You don’t come off looking like a crazy person or get criticised for being out of tune.  You just get bonus points for being an interactive, fun, loving parent.
  3. Play – you can spend a full day jumping on a trampoline, dancing, playing with dough, colouring in, watching cartoons and building forts…and nobody’s going to tell you to grow up.
  4. Finish off other peoples’ dinner – there’s a lot of leftovers where children are involved, and guess what?  They’re all yours!  This is an especially great bonus at kids’ birthday parties or when it’s sausage roll and chips night at home.  Waste not, want not right?
  5. Talk in third person – a LOT.  It’s a great way to shift the blame ;)  That “Mummy” has a lot to answer for always wanting them to do something to make her “happy”. ;)
  6. Make fart jokes and celebrate bodily functions - complete with cheers, high-fives and sometimes even Smarties.

Breaking Free

"What? I'm igniting my passions!" ;)

"What? I'm igniting my passions!" ;)

Put a video camera in front of my face and suddenly my mouth’s contorted like I’ve just had a root canal, I’ve a vocab of about three words, and I’m all machinegun giggles (this awkward heckling can be heard ringing out through every poignant scene in my wedding video)… So why would I audition for a reality TV show?!  Sounds crazy right?  But that’s exactly what I chose to do on the back of being told I was “boring”.

I realised that I needed to do something drastic – something that completely challenged me, in order to restart my engine.  I’d been idling for years, sitting on the sidelines, waiting for someone or something to come and pull me out of the rut I was in.  I chose to leap, two feet first, guns blazing, straight from Mama Pyjama Syndrome into a ring of social judgement (‘cause that’s just how I do things, but I’m sure that the same can be achieved by taking less extreme steps).

Suffice to say, I didn’t get through to the final round of auditions but what I gained from the experience was the kick-start I needed.  I felt re-energised by the challenge.  As corny as it sounds, I actually felt like ‘me’ again.  I was doing something that for me was completely ‘crazy’, completely on a whim, completely self-driven - and it felt awesome.

When we're feeling exhausted and a little lost some days it seems almost impossible to brush our teeth, let alone get up and do something that falls completely outside the realms of our comfort zone.  But it's so important to do things that increase our energy levels.

I'm no expert, but in my experience, it’s the things that force you into the “now” that set your energy levels flying.  For me it’s activities that get my adrenaline pumping – like rollercoasters, sports (and reality tv auditions!).  Things that force you to think of nothing other than the present living moment.  Activities that elicit the ‘fight or flight’ response.  Obviously this isn’t really a sustainable approach to maintaining our zest for life, but I’ve found it a very effective jump-start tactic, and one that has been pivotal in pulling me out of my Mama Pyjama Syndrome.

I challenge you to take a chance this week.  Say yes to something you never thought you’d be able to do.  Get the blood pumping through your veins again.  Take the time to remind yourself of what makes you, “you”.  Part of being a great parent is knowing who you are and what makes you happy.  Don’t let “yourself” get lost among the dirty nappies and sleepless nights any longer than is absolutely necessary (yes, there’s a period of time where there is little choice but to put our “selves” on the back burner, but that period doesn’t need to last forever).  If you see an opportunity to reignite your passions – seize it!  There’s no shame in being both a “parent” and a happy, fulfilled individual.  We wouldn’t want our children to settle for less than that as adults, so let’s lead by example.  Go on, get out there – break free!