Posts tagged #world

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.   

Competition

"Save the pretending for parties!"

"Save the pretending for parties!"

I am very lucky to be surrounded by supportive women who share the same “no holds barred” approach to discussing our parenting experiences.  But I’ve heard so many stories from women about the pressures they feel in living up to the carefully constructed images that other mothers present. 

You know the ones…claiming to never have sworn, or yelled, or lost their temper.  Sprouting about getting a full night’s sleep every night with their newborn.  Comparing the milestones of your children with theirs.  Constantly posting updates on how wonderful their life is and how motherhood is a dream.  These are usually the same mums that are making the judgement calls on putting your child in daycare or being a stay-at-home mum, preaching whatever opinion suits their situation and putting down anyone that does the opposite. 

Ah good luck to them!  If this perfect little world really does exist for them, consider them the one in a million - the winners of the parenting lottery.  I’m happy for them, honestly I am!  But as for the rest of them, let’s get real.  You seriously have never ever, not once wanted to lock your child in a room and run out of the house screaming?  They’ve never pushed your buttons so much that you’ve lost the plot and yelled ridiculous statements like “what is WRONG with you?” two inches from their face?  You’ve never rewashed the laundry three times, or let dishes pile up for a week?  Never sat in a corner crying wondering how you got to where you are?  The statement “I’m failing” or “I totally suck at being a mum” or “I can’t do this” have never crossed your mind?

So flip it 'round and think of it a different way.  Instead of comparing yourself to these women, or buying into their opinions and mind games…think about how hard it must be to be them.  Imagine waking up each day and lying to yourself and everyone around you about how ‘easy’ everything is.  Imagine never getting any help because no one thought you needed it.  Imagine how hard they must work to ensure that their house is pristine so as to leave no hint of struggle.  Imagine how difficult it must be to maintain the facade.  Urgh!  No thanks!  I’ll take second guessing, guilt ridden, slightly lunatic, warts and all mum over that any day.

If you ARE one of these women – please stop.  Women have come a long way in recent years, and a lot of them have fought really really hard to get us equal opportunities and rights.  Stop sabotaging our gender!  We should be banding together, not putting each other down or creating unnecessary competition and pressure.  We need to support one another, prop each other up, share our struggles and celebrate our successes - together as one.  It’s a modern world, there’s a lot of pressure on mums to be a lot of different things now days.  Please stop adding to that pressure! 

If you’re right smack bang in the middle of being dragged into this comparison game…get off the train!  Now!  You’re tired, you’re vulnerable, you’re susceptible – they’re preying on you!  Don’t let them get their teeth in.  It’s not too late!  Run - run really really fast in the opposite direction.  In fact, run over to Mama Pyjama on facebook  – read the blogs, read the responses from readers – there’s a whole community of real, supportive, honest parents out there.  Get in amongst it and save yourself the pain of trying to live up to unrealistic expectations.

Rushing Childhood

Rushing Childhood Mama Pyjama

“Hurry up, get in your car seat.”  “Come on, we’re going to be late.”  “Why do you have to take so long to eat your dinner?”  “Stop dawdling!”  Hurry Hurry Hurry!  Rush Rush Rush!

Every day I’m rushing.  Everything seems to take so loooonng.  I just want to pop quickly to the shop to grab some milk, but I’ve got two little time bandits eating up my minutes, taking their sweet time, not buying into my desperate pleas to “just hurry up and get in the car”.  Every other phrase that comes barreling out of my mouth seems to contain the words “quickly” or “hurry”.  I hate myself as I’m doing it, but what choice do I have?  I’m a working mum…I’m busy…I don’t have time to stop and smell the roses.

How sad is that!

It really is a modern day plight.  We’ve always got somewhere we are supposed to be, or something we’re supposed to be doing.  If I’m not at work, I’m working from home.  If I’m not working, I’m trying to do the shopping, the cleaning, the laundry.  If I’m not doing chores, I’m trying to catch up with family (who all happen to live quite far away – travel eats up more of our precious time).  And then there’s friends, and couple time, and alone time.  I haven’t even mentioned the ever present social pressure to have your children enrolled in some form of learning activity or hobby.  How do we squeeze it all in?  Truth is - we don’t.  Something’s gotta give.

For me, the first thing to give is my patience.  The reoccurring thoughts that mock me only serve to reduce my patience further… “don’t they understand that if they just let me finish this work document I can spend more time playing with them?” … “don’t the understand that if they just got straight in the car seat when I asked we could have been back from the shops by now and making that cake together?” … “don’t they understand that spending 45 minutes eating that quarter piece of dried up cold toast is time we could have spent building a cubby?”.  They don’t understand...and why should they? 

Whilst they’re busy enjoying the way the leaves look on the trees, or the feeling of the wet sand between their toes, I’m busy trying to hurry them along so fast that they wouldn’t even see the flowers, let alone smell them.

I could go on now to say we should all slow down a little.  Take the time to let them discover things along the way.  Be patient as they painstakingly attempt to put on their own seatbeat.  Swallow the ever present urge to take over, or to bark “hurry up”, “get moving”, “why do you have to do everything so sloowwwly?”.  But let’s get real…in a perfect world we’d be perfect parents.  However most of us are not fortunate enough to be able to leisurely stroll through our days, without a care in the world, without the pressures of a mortgage, a job, social obligations and general housekeeping.  Unless we completely flip our world on its head and adopt a more alternative lifestyle that sits outside of the realms of modern society, we are still going to be relatively time poor. 

So I guess it’s about balance and perspective.  Trying to remind ourselves that taking five more minutes to actually get into the car isn’t really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things.  If we get a spare moment, spending half of it washing dishes and the other half mucking around with the kids is probably doable.  If we added up the amount of time we spent ranting at them to get moving, it would probably almost equate to the amount of time they would have taken to get it done independently…almost!

I’m trying really hard to stifle the urge to rush…at least once in every five times that it bubbles up inside me!  I’m trying to remind myself that they grow so quickly, and when all is said and done, it doesn’t matter that much if I’m a little late, or if it takes me a little longer to finish a job.  These are my kids…this is their childhood…I don’t want to rush them through it. 

I guess what I’m getting at is that the thing that’s got to give doesn’t always have to be my patience (and consequently their childhood discovery time).  It could be one of the other obligations in my life.  All within reason of course, and all as balanced as possible.  Sometimes that means saying “no” to signing them up for dance classes or swimming lessons.  Sometimes it’s deferring catching up with people.  Sometimes it means ignoring the over achiever aspect of my personality and just taking a little longer to achieve a work goal. 

But sometimes, despite all good intentions, it will still be my patience that gives. I will still blurt out “hurry up, get moving, come onnnn!”…and that’s ok.  I’m doing the best I can…and that’s all we can be expected to do.