Pick yourself up and just keep going

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When I was little I use to do dance classes – at the end of every year there would be this massive Christmas concert where we’d spend ages practicing choreography. Then I’d go home and my mum would make me do it again… EVERY… SINGLE… DAY!

Later on in school when I mum worked out that I was having issues with maths – especially division and then algebra, mum would make sure I did my homework and then give me EXTRA equations to work out in addition to what school set out for me.

I HATED it.

I LOATHED the extra work.

Time and time again my mum would say that one day I would thank her; that when I made it into university and was later working a decent job I would appreciate the work she MADE me put in. On the other hand, if I continued to argue about how “no one else has to do it” she would eventually have enough and tell me that anything worth something takes effort.

Years later and I did make it to uni with rather decent grades, years after that I met someone and we had many an obstacle to overcome but I realised that my mum’s practice of making me do things; of getting me to “suck it up and keep going” befitted me in more ways than making me proficient at dance chorography, division and algebra.

I find that I approach parenting in much the same way:

Cleaning up a gazillion times and then having hubby come home and ask “can we clean up the book area? It looks a bit messy” and I think “suck it up and keep going!”

The mania that ensues every night on my work days when we pick kids up from day-care and then have to get both children bathed, clothed and fed and then organise the next day whilst trying to find time to spend with them individually and then put them to bed and find time with hubby – “Pick yourself up, just keep going!”

The times I am at the shops and one child is crying because her little pulled her hair and then he starts wailing because she’s crying – “pick yourself up, & put the coffee in the trolley and just keep going – let’s get some choccies for mummy too”

Life isn’t meant to be easy – that there will be moments, days and sometimes weeks or months where I will wonder WHY?? Where I’ll internally scream and outwardly just take a deep breath… but then there are the other moments where Rocco will stroke my face and smile up at me every night as I put him to bed. Those moments when I’ll hear the patter of Amira’s feet as she feels her way to our room and gets into bed with me and snuggles up close and says she loves me.

Parenting is hard. But its amazing.

I think so many of us, when things are “challenging” start focussing on them, then think about the other hard stuff and then the next thing we know we’ve snowballed and suddenly this is all too hard, we quiver and forget that we need to try to find the joy that comes from the mania. See the little things – like instead of focussing on how Rocco is crying about his shoe coming off and that he can’t put it on himself, look to see how his sister has stopped playing and come on over and is trying so patiently so get a wriggly little boy to sit still whilst she TRIES to put on his shoe. It doesn’t matter that she’s not been able to do it, and that now I have less time to get the grocery shopping done – in that moment she showed her love for him, she showed compassion and care and empathy.

That if we stop for a minute; stop berating either ourselves/the universe/our parents/our children/our income (or lack thereof)/our partner (or lack thereof) and take each situation as a moment we might be able to get through it a little better – that we’re one more equation away to understanding the algebra of life.

So for all the times things get too much – I’ll just “pick myself up and keep going”

Because its like that other saying: “this too shall pass”

And if it takes too long or things get a little too hard to handle there is always cake.

3

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How easily we forget

I don’t know about you but I am astounded in how 2 years there seem to be both a lot of things I remember and yet a LOT of things I have (already) forgotten about newborns! It has astounded me in such a way that makes me wonder how on earth women who looked after their own newborns more than 10 years ago can feel so adamant about dispensing advice. In saying that, I have been very cautious when dispensing my own ‘anecdotes’ when asked what I did when Amira was a newborn and have tried to start with “I don’t know if it will work for you, but with Amira I think I…” because I’ve found that over time the mind forgets the ‘yuky’ part and has a way of ‘polishing’ the good parts. Perhaps this is nature or God’s way (whichever methodology you ascribe to) of continuing humanity or perhaps it’s just our own feeble, mummy brain affected minds playing tricks on us; whichever one it is, here are the things that I have found that I had forgotten about dealing with newborns:

They really are tiiinnnnyy! I remembered her being little – I remembered her being fragile – but then you have another little one and you are gobsmacked at just HOW teeny, tiny they really, really are! These little fragile, twiglike creatures that I’m scared I could break when changing a nappy.

How breast feeding hurts: when you’re putting a baby to the breast every couple hours and you haven’t breast fed for nearly a year you forget how traumatising it is on the nipples when he/she first latches on and gets going. I loved breast-feeding missy; even with all the attachment issues in the beginning, then her hating one breast to the point of exhaustive fits of crying (first her and then me!) when I’d put her on (to a point where I just gave up and destined myself to lopsided/uneven boobs) and me getting mastitis. I loved the closeness it brought us; the moments where she’d look up at me whilst feeding was like we were sharing our own little secret world that no one else was a part of. It’s not that breast feeding hurts each and every time or for the whole time you’re feeding; it’s just that initial phase when you’re needing to “toughen up” your nipples – that’s the part I’d forgotten about. Which brings me to:

How painful engorgement feels: I must admit that I did fully remember that feeling that came on the third morning post birth, when my milk came in. The shocking feeling as though I had an additional couple kilos on my chest only to be greeted with a Pamela Anderson-sized chest when I looked in the mirror. I remember them being hard (sorry for TMI), for them being even bigger than I thought they’d be and being totally amazed at the concept of child-birth and all that seemed to follow. This time around though my milk started coming in at day 2 and by day three I think I was seriously giving Pammie a damn good run for her money – really; Katie Price had nothing on me! by day 4 I was ready to be able to feed an army of babies! The hardness, the “hotness” – all those feelings came back… but worse this time. And then to have a little bubba who didn’t seem to eat as much as his sister did (though I will say that he did/does want to feed ALL THE TIME!) – well, by the end of night 4 I remember standing in the shower massaging my “mummy glands” as hubby walks in and catches me crying my eyes out of the sheer pain of it all.

How HUNGRY you get post birth and post (beast) feeding: I forgot how famished I’d be after feeding. Re-experiencing this has reminded me that perhaps this is why I never quite got back to pre-baby weight! Literally; I will finish popping Rocco on for a feed and then be thinking “Oooh, I could go a plate of scrambled eggs? or a slice of warmed chocolate cake with a good dollop of thickened cream please?” its profound that these yearnings are there even after the 2am feed when in reality the only thing I should be craving is a warm bed (don’t get me wrong, I am wanting that too, but the cake is outweighing this)

Exactly how tired you will be by the end of the night & the number of times you will get up through the night:  feel that that is pretty self-explanatory. After one baby you know that you will be sleep deprived, but you also know that you’ll survive it and be ok. That after some time, these night time wake ups will lessen and you will find sleep again. But then you have another one and you realise just HOW tired you were – how you are again and then it dawns on me: I will need to sleep train all OVER again!

I know this post sounds like a total rant; a series of complaints, issues and forgotten pitfalls of having babies… but it’s not really… because along with all the above comes the other things that I hadn’t forgotten at all but hadn’t quite remembered as true to what the reality is:

The absolute beauty of watching them sleep

The feeling of bliss of holding them in your arms and the overwhelming feeling of wanting to protect them from the world

The smell of them – the tops of their head smell amazing!

Watching them watching you… & that’s just to name a few!

So that even though I may be beyond tired and its only week 2 of having toddler + newborn and I know I have at least 3 night-time feeds ahead of me later on tonight I must admit… I wouldn’t change a thing. I am a mum of two now and I am amazed by it all.

x

The double edged sword of practising patience

When I was little my mum taught me lessons like respect, obedience & prayer. She taught me to think of others & their needs and about the inherent importance that a good education played in life. My mum boasts that some of my first words were ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.

As I grew older these teachings along with my own personal character meant that I put others before myself. I studied hard because it meant that it made my mum happy, I adhered to curfews because:

  1. I didn’t like conflict or arguing
  2. It was what my mum wanted and therefore kept her happy which therefore meant that my (home) life was happy/easy

Don’t get me wrong; every now and again I would bemoan “what about me?” and lament about how it wasn’t fair but I was always led to believe that “my time will come”. It wasn’t necessarily that I was actually told this, but rather it was a silent unspoken rule that one day, I too would get to be adult enough to put my needs wants and desires out there and that they would be seen as relevant and mattered.

So when I got married I understand that this meant that my wants and needs would have to go hand in hand with the person I married. I had led a life already based on the understanding of patience and compromise so I had no problem with having another person’s needs & desires listened to. When I became a mum I understood that this too was an act of selflessness; that being a mum meant putting this human being before EVERYTHING else. That, like my mother; ensuring I raise a productive, ethical child with sound values who will be independent and capable is now the primary focus in my life. HOWEVER, in saying that I now feel that at as I have travelled this far along the journey of life, that I am NOW finally entitled voice my needs without others judging me or expecting too much of me.

WHAT A CROCK!

See, the problem is this: when you have spent a WHOLE lifetime of being caring, of putting everyone else’s needs before your own, of being selfless and unwavering in your seemingly never-ending pool of patience it seems that people then have a MASSIVE problem when you come out with saying “no” or “I don’t want to”. It hardly seems fair… so that now; even after all the compromising it seems that there is still more compromising to be done. Still more “biding my time” to do and still more “settling”. When I DO say something I am first met with seeming understanding but there is STILL the expectation that I will do what everyone else wants; they all seem uncomfortable & annoyed that I’m not doing what they all want me to do.

And so the cycle continues… I move forward and realise that clearly this is my role; I am the compromiser, the person who just has to ‘suck it up’, the patience person who’s feelings DO matter (as so long as they don’t hurt/differ from others), the person who just goes along with it all and says nothing lest I offend/upset/alienate anyone.

WHEN will it be my turn?