I’ve been meaning to start a blog for a long time now. The best part of five years actually. But as motherhood swept me along and I slowly adjusted to my new identity, I decided to pop it on the back burner until the fabled ‘bit more time’ presented itself. And so here I am, embracing this bit of time I’ve been afforded by my wonderful Joe and his mum (they’re currently walking with the kids in the ancient Yew forest near our home, in search of Fairies and Viking tombs and most likely, The Gruffalo.)
My motherhood journey began when I fell pregnant with Hal and fully realised itself when he was born one chilly night in early December of 2014. Since then our life has, naturally, become busier, more complex and, with the addition of our sweet Neve in 2017, often rather exhausting. Throw in a business with all its inherent stresses and it’s fair to say we’ve had some pretty tense moments.
There have been many times since becoming a mother when I’ve felt identityless, trapped and experienced out-of-the-blue panic attacks so severe I’ve ended up at A & E because my hands and feet seized up as a result of hyperventilation. On the flip side, since becoming a mother I’ve experienced the most intense joy, love, compassion, and inspiration I’ve ever felt, and that feels like a fair exchange on balance: I’ve learnt so much about myself and what matters to me along the way. Every cloud, hey?
What will this blog focus on?
It will be a quiet space for me to ponder my life, just as it is. It will offer glimpses of my days and my dreams of a little homestead with rescued animals, self-sufficiency, family and friends gathering at our table and quiet days of knitting, chatting with our children and enjoying a slow paced life of simplicity, seasonal living, compassion and love.
I hope this little space will help me navigate the inevitable highs and lows of motherhood (and life in general) with a clearer mind, purpose and, with luck, a reasonable amount of equanimity. It’s also my hope that somewhere, nestled in the little echo chambers between words, others might find thoughts and feelings that resonate, comfort or simply offer a high five of solidarity when it’s needed. For me, writing things down is always cathartic. Oftentimes it can be difficult, but there’s always a greater sense of clarity once I’ve channeled thoughts out of my mind, through my fingers and onto a computer or notebook. And so here I am, tapping away on this slightly sticky-from-little-fingers keyboard, enjoying a sense of post-meditation calm while also, of course, wondering what I’m going to make us all for dinner this evening.
Space and time to listen and align
These days, as Neve approaches 2 (in November), I’m feeling more able to give greater focus and commitment to recognising, accepting and nurturing myself as I am now (by letting go of the ‘but I used to look like this and do that and have this!’ ego voice that so dominated early motherhood), and to following the morals and lifestyle I truly believe in.
Just by writing those words, I’m reminding myself that I do have a choice in how I live and what a gift that is. It’s a liberating feeling not having to live with the unpleasant niggling feeling of not being, to coin the popular phrase, ‘my authentic self.’ To overlook my own morals – for example, choosing a vegan lifestyle – in order to save someone else’s discomfort is a good example of a life choice I’ve wanted to commit to for a while now – years in fact, but have hesitated due to the perceived ‘practical’ implications it places on those around me. (I’ve been vegetarian since I was a child, so it’s not a massive leap really).
I’m sure from time to time we all feel that dull, restless feeling of making choices or carrying out actions that don’t really represent who we are or reflect the values we uphold. It’s not a nice place to be, that’s for sure. If you’re experiencing feelings like this at the moment, I hope you’re able to find your way through the often tricksy falsehoods we tell ourselves because just past them, within the warmth of your heartspace, your truth has been waiting inside of you all these years. Be brave and honour your highest self.
Embracing a spiritual path
Since my early 20s, I’ve been drawn to Buddhism. I’d struggled for years (especially during my teens) with various aspects of religion, but always felt a strong sense of spirituality and a connectedness with life that went beyond what I was able to rationalise or explain. The Buddhist spiritual tradition has always made so much sense to me, but it’s only been in recent years that I’ve come to actively apply its teachings and philosophy to my daily life.
It gives me a greater sense of my place here on Earth, of why the quality of my thoughts and actions matter so much; it allows me to allow myself to become more open, more vulnerable, more willing to make mistakes, see the lesson in them and try to make amends; it helps me to let things that aren’t meant for me move through and out of my life, whether that be people or opportunities; and, most importantly of all, it encourages me to be present – truly present – to the beauty and opportunity for spiritual growth that exists in the often repetitively mundane day-to-day life with small children.
Buddhism has also taught me to find comfort in knowing that I can love those closest to me with an expansive heart, stay open to them and love from a distance if and when we don’t always see eye-to-eye. It’s taught me that I can only control my thoughts and actions, nobody else’s.
It’s often said that as parents, we create our children’s reality and sense of place in the world. What a profound and amazing responsibility and opportunity that is! With our words and actions we shape their sense of self, their feelings of belonging and security, we teach them what love feels like, about the nature and inevitability of change, of how sadness or anger is experienced, of fear and joy. Realising these things has helped me crystalise in my own mind how I want to be as a mother. It helps me to (sometimes, not always!) take a deep breath before responding with frustration or anger to yet another demand being made of me by one or both children, but, if I don’t manage it every time, to be kind to myself and try again next time to be more patient.
For me, the greatest gift I can ever give our children is the ability to experience and manage their emotions in a way that allows them to move through life with a sense of peace, optimism and a willingness to practice self-improvement for the good of themselves and those around them. It’s a daily practice and most days I fall at one – or several – hurdles, but I’m committed to improving my patience, presence and acceptance each day, even in the smallest of ways. As Dr. Shefali Tsabary writes in her beautiful book, The Conscious Parent, ‘an infant demands, “I am here, be here with me.”‘ These are the words that ring in my head when I’m worrying about mess in the living room or the ever-present pile of dirty laundry in our bedroom and they help ground me and be there for our children as they need me to be in that moment.
I’ll write more in the coming days, but for now I wish you a happy Sunday!