Despite my greatest efforts, my resistance against embracing motherhood as a full time job has finally imobilised me.
I’ve told myself that I’m young enough to mother three children, have a full time job and a hobby. It’s taken me a good six years to crash and burn. I can sit back, telling my story and pushing the blame onto so many people and so many things. However, it not only enables my determination to burn out, it fills me with a resent that is only eating away at my energy, daily.
There is alot of talk these days about self love, which I thought I understood. Self love is pampering, time off and relaxation right? Wrong. I am now coming to understand and accept that self love is making good choices for your own self. It’s taking time and energy to understand ourselves the way we wish others would. I’ve reached a point in my life where I now realise the only one who can make me happy in this life is myself. Short term, of course we can rely on the happinesses of the every day, however when we primarily rely on that to have a sense of fulfillment we are setting ourselves up to fall down.
In reality, not every day can we full of joy, happiness and fulfillment; we naturally face challenging times on a daily basis too. It’s what gives us balance as human beings in society. Sometimes the balance is not level and our underlying ability to cope with small stresses begins to give way, resulting in physical and mental health issues.
How then, can we establish a strong, underlying foundation of fulfillment despite the everyday circumstances? We can begin by saying “no”. For me this was the only starting point to cease the destructive cycle of opening the door to the relentless pressure from responsibilities and personal expectations. When we can begin to say no, we begin to take control over what we’re allowing to enter our minds and ultimately we are getting to know our needs and wants as individuals.
This journey of self love is at its rawest stage, currently. The small amount of strength I am experiencing so far is maintaining me and keeping me afloat as I discover more about my needs and wants as a woman and Mother.
Freedom of speech and Equal opportunities – the very definition of the world we live in now. Not quite.
The complexity of these social issues goes beyond the need for change.Within every individual case, there are barriers, different barriers for all. Like the mutation of covid, the fight for freedom of speech and equal opportunities is an up hill battle. You may be thinking, that change is on the horizon, as more people are speaking out and standing up for what they believe is right. However, there are indivduals worldwide who are not aware that there is a fight going on or that what they are experiencing isn’t right or simply they are just numb with fear and unable to put their experience into words.
When we reflect upon the fight to close the gender pay gap, generally we see a rough idea of what we would like to achieve. However, behind many doors there are women who by no fault of their own… or maybe by fault of their own are trapped. There are mothers who fight every day to keep a peaceful home, fight everyday to keep the children well and happy. There is now a great awareness of domestic, sexual absue and even coercive control. Where women who live as Wife, Mum, Daughter and Sister; there you will find untold stories about manipulation and abuse that has occured in different shapes and sizes. The barriers that come up against women are very real but the unique nature of each experience does not simply have the same exit route as society would expect.
At the age of 20, I gave birth to my eldest. 8 years down the line, I am Mum to three wonderful individuals. I have said on many occassions that I have grown up with my children, from a very naive 19 year old to the woman I am today. There is no room here for the blame game, however, there is room for the truth. For the past 8 years, I have been married but single. What this means is that from the birth of my daughter, I have changed ever single nappy, done every bath time, every bedtime, every school concert, every dinner, every…really the list could go on. I’m not here to big myself up (although… Well done Beth, you’re a bloody saint) but I want to share my reality and the reality of many others. From the outside it may look like I am a willing housewife who adores her duties. Well, no. I am a woman who thrives in education, a woman who passionately desires to achieve and a woman who wants to be heard. The psychology behind all of this probably stem from the occassional sting of oppression, a constant reminder that I am just a woman, just a Mum, just a Wife. As I mentioned before, I have grown with my children and like a child I spent many years seeking affirmation from the people around me and it is a habit that has stayed with me. This deep scar is rooted at the centre of me. I fear that the words I say will be wrong, I fear that the wrong person will call my number, I fear that if I leave kitchen in a mess I will be less of a wife or Mum. The reality is, these deeply rooted struggles and scars are present among many. In all honesty most days just look like survival for me, but these kind of days are lessening. I am embracing my opportunity to study, embracing my opportunity to wear makeup, embracing my opportunity to stay up late to watch a series on BBC and finally, the saddest of all, I cling to this blog where I can share my thoughts in the knowledge that no one in my house actually reads it or is remotely interested in it. These opportunities are fulfilled with an underlying fear, however I have realised that I must claim my life back. Life was given by God and belongs to no one else.
To my sisters who do EVERYTHING and more. Power to you, POWER TO YOU! I am with you.
When we think about weaknesses, do we ever delve deep enough to truly make a fair and productive reflection?. When I reflect upon my own weaknesses, I find myself contemplating outside opinions mostly and what the world has narrated to me from school, work to motherhood. Majority of the time we allow our understanding of ourselves to be defined by outward influences. Although this is a very common, human thing to do, we have to find a careful balance when processing opinions and feelings to the final output understanding. This is easier said than done, mind you.
As much as I love the processing systems of a computer, we as humans hold far more responsibility to come up with opinions which consider many emotional complexities and factors. Very recently, I came to the conclusion that for majority of my life, I have actively defined myself as a tired person. There is part of me that feels silly even saying this, but as I mentioned earlier… We are only human.
When I say I actively defined myself as a tired person, this came in many forms. Being a Mum of three, I fully immersed myself in the coffee for survival generation. As much as I love a good cup of coffee, this small perk throughout the day only gave me minor mental energy… “Oh, time for a cuppa now!”. I don’t know why it took me so many years to realise that coffee was a mere comfort throughout the day and not this magic potion that would pull me through am to pm. That’s the thing with the age we live in, we are surrounded with an array of tips, tricks and lifestyles that should make us everyday super heroes.The reality is though that as we lean on such comforts or tips, we mask over our own reality and strengths. Often, we are left with a fancy coffee pot and a wardrobe full of gym wear. I mean these things do work to a certain extent, but eventually we do have to step back and do a bit of self analysis. Being described by many family members as “a girl who needs herWe are only human. When I say I actively defined myself as a tired person, this came in many forms. Being a Mum of three, I fully immersed myself in the coffee for survival generation. As much as I love a good cup of coffee, this small perk throughout the day only gave me minor mental energy… “Oh, time for a cuppa now!”. I don’t know why it took me so many years to realise that coffee was a mere comfort throughout the day and not this magic potion that would pull me through am to pm. That’s the thing with the age we live in, we are surrounded with an array of tips, tricks and lifestyles that should make us everyday super heroes.The reality is though that as we lean on such comforts or tips, we mask over our own reality and strengths. Often, we are left with a fancy coffee pot and a wardrobe full of gym wear.
I mean these things do work to a certain extent, but eventually we do have to step back and do a bit of self analysis. Being described by many family members as “a girl who needs her sleep” left me feeling pretty lacking in self confidence and if they see it too, the it must be true. By allowing this to define me, I began to fear late nights and built up so much frustration with being a tired person. But for me, it isn’t enough to just accept something that has been hindering me slyly for many years.This was when I accepted that tiredness is my weakness and held a lot of unentitled control over me. Now I’m in a position where I’m working on building up my resistance against tirerdness and the fear of fatigue. By actively altering my mindset in small ways, I’m now able to recognise the difference between physical tierdness and mental fatigue. Both things that previously defined me, no longer have control over my everyday life. I motivate myself by accepting my responsibilities with a target of having time to write and be creative when the children are asleep at the end of the day. By having that I begin to strengthen myself mentally and physically.
Coffee no longer gets the pat on the back… but I do. My self understanding is my control and power bank. This is my personal experience of battling with a weakness and it all began with recognising it. Your Situation may be similar or polar opposite, I do however encourage delving deeper into understanding yourself more. It may seem a bit nit-picky to begin with, but that silly old thing that blends into your every day, could be impacting you more than you know.
Have you ever been in the countryside as evening is drawing in, minimal artificial light and that kind of peace that makes you feel like you’re breathing for the first time.
While on a camping holiday in Pembrokeshire as a child, I distinctly remember waking in the middle of the night needing to use the bathroom, which was on the other side of the site. Quietly walking through the field with my Dad, avoiding bumping into tents. We gazed upwards to the midnight sky, which was like nothing I had seen before. Twenty years later the vision replays in my mind.
That night, the sky was weighing down over us like a vast canopy with layers upon layers of stars. I felt dizzy as I attempted to walk and permanently gaze. It took my breath away then and it takes my breath away now as I describe it. A natural phenomenon that prompts stories and inspiration.
When I contemplate how the light of a star reaches our tiny visual perspective here on Earth, it’s hard not to be impacted. It is said that the stars we see most probably still exist but what we are seeing is the state of the stars a few years ago. If this is true, the stars further away but still visible within our universe could potentially be billions of years old. Unfortunately or fortunately for us, there is no way of proving this. We may continue to bask in the great beauty of our solar system, as the light blasts through generations.
My friends in the sky, how can you be so many but so individually significant? Wherever my eyes choose to rest on your beautiful canvas, I will feel as tiny as you look to me. Your light is powerful, your community is vast. You’ve created stories, educated us, changed perspective and encouraged belief. Can we as humans, grains of sand over generations transform our story into one that will create, educate, encourage and inspire thousands of years later.
Our responsibility is clear, create testimonies where we are, love others who surround us, maintain our roaring identities that pave a way for the future to join. Because whether you like it or not, today will be visible 50 years from now.
Another school pick up, another opportunity for the Hope’s and fears to sneak in…”did he do well today? Or was it time out?”.
I never truly saw the capacity for anxiety to dwell in my mind until I had my children.
Sure, the concerns differ as my experience grows but my heart has found a vulnerability that only a Mother experiences. I should know how to deal with this by now! I thought I solved that problem? I’m exhausted and the kids are at a sleepover, I miss them so much. Being a Mum is both a joy and a confusion, it’s the most complicated relationship you’ll probably ever find yourself in.
They say you truly learn how to drive when you’ve passed your test and out on the real roads! The same goes for Motherhood. We have a period of preparation where we read, we discuss nappies and feeding bottles with experienced Mama’s over coffee, we attend antenatal talks that give us an insight in the life of a newborn. That’s right, just the newborn stuff. I have debated with myself on so many occasions, whether if I was taught more at the beginning, would it have made the slightest difference to the way I am dealing with things now? Practically, I think it would be time wasted. Mentally, I think I would be less shocked by the experiences I have had, being a Mum.
We all have different ways of thinking, feeling and being, so to assume that every Mum will face anxiety could create issues that didn’t have to be there. I do believe however, in order to inspire new Mum’s; we have to show care of the physical and mental health from the very beginning. Whatever their perspective about their own mental health may be, I want to strive to see the next generation of Mum’s equipt with the knowledge and tools that will nuture their mental wellbeing, good or bad. Antenatal care is a key time for Mum’s, whether it’s the first baby or fourth. We can stitch into the fabric of education strategies that equalise the anxiety capacity; we may just begin to combat postnatal depression.
With mental health becoming more spoken about, I think it’s essential for parents to accept that there will be moments where seeking help is the best option. It is also essential that in a generation where the public health care counselling waiting lists are more than 6 months long (UK), we cannot ignore a problem that may or may not occur. In the same way communities equip their houses with damage control where floods are likely, we have to equip ourselves for the challenges ahead that may or may not cause us to suffer with anxiety, worry or depression.
Training with the Family Institute in South Wales taught me so much about my perspective of mental health. One realisation I came to, is that sitting down and having a good conversation with someone, working through challenging topics is actually pretty normal. Mental health is as normal as the body we sit in. It’s just harder for us to comprehend the unseen, but I challenge you today to imagine your mental health as an image in your mind. Whether by using colour, picture, numbers, words, shapes etc. If it helps to mark this down on paper, do so. Let’s get to know our own mental health, whatever position it may be in. Begin the process of welcoming and loving its diversity, that way we may start to understand that it isn’t to be feared, but nurtured.
“Deeply rooted heartache that falls over me when I’m lost in my parenting, it washes me up like a tidal wave. But continue moving on this wave, trusting that the shore will soon be in sight.”
Have you ever heard the phrase “sleep when you die”? What do you think of when you hear it?
As a counsellor by trade and an all round sensitive soul; words impact me greatly. I recall being taught in university that every word and phrase is valuable in the process of communication and therapy. I tapped into this as I truly believe that the words we choose or our subconscious chooses to use, expresses more about what’s being said. This effected my practice and relationships in a way that was both a curse and a cure.
If you didn’t already know, I’m Welsh by heritage. In Wales it’s quite common to see individuals speaking with their hands and using phrases that although spoken in English are a bit trivial and sound like a joke. “I’ll be there now, in a minute” as amusing as it sounds, when determining an ETA this makes complete sense to me. Not quite now, not quite in a minute but very soon!
Wherever you come from, we can agree that communication from destination to destination and from one relationship to another. Being understood is the difference between our personal opinions and emotions being valued and undervalued. As I’ve blogged about before, our personal stories are to be treasured and not to be thrown out into the open sea to be caught by any wave passing by. The same goes for the reverse of this. If we catch on to any opinion, trend or emotion that flies our way, we open ourselves up to be deeply affected by things that hold no benefit or positive outcome both ways.
In real time, imagine being a parent in the school yard who socially attracts many individuals! You are unoffcially the friend, the Mum, the teacher assistant, the governor, the mediator and the taxi! How exhausting. Your capacity to offer quality understanding and support to each of these roles fluctuate, people will feel let down and you will burn out emotionally. The same goes for the content we expose ourselves too on a daily basis.
The phrase “sleep when you die” to me is a backwards motivation to get stuff done. It bothered me for a while, with 2 kids at the time and one on the way, all I wanted to do was sleep! Even now with 3 young children, sleep in my constant goal. I had this pressure taunting me though, that people were achieving more with their time, while I was cleaning up after kids and craving sleep.
These type of phrases communicate to a very impressionable generation, that you are going to miss out if you don’t chase that money or promotion! In reality, in order to create a smooth path of wellbeing and professional success you will need more than lack of sleep.
By surrounding yourself with stimulation for your mind, whether this is reading a new book or blog! Creating a daily space to find peace through meditation and prayer, eating well and most importantly listening to your bodies call to rest. We may not be able to control all the trends or communication we come in contact with, but how we react is down to each of us. We may have to feel the pressure of fire phrases before we understand if it’s relevant or not, but the next time we know to do a U turn and seek positivity in our interactions with this world.
As we move into December, there’s the usual sense of winding down, pressing pause and signing off another year.
Yet this year has been a rollercoaster of pausing and winding down… with not much of the life we know in sight. 2020 has been defined by… well you know, I don’t even have to say whatever you’re reading this from.
It’s all sort of shaken up my perspective of the way I’m approaching my time and the things I do with it. There is a common view that the start of the year is where we place our annual goals and the end of the year is where we start thinking about the whole process again.
With a year of so much negative potential, we may feel like not much has been achieved. The new normal is definitely made itself at home but there is a sense of determination to push through, back to the normality we knew way before 2020 began.
In this season when workplaces would be on Christmas outings, schools performing live Nativities and families gathering to eat, drink, laugh and celebrate together… we have the prospect of a slow end of the year. For someone who is an introvert; I can deal with a quiet season but even for me… I’m craving the frantic buzz of last minute shopping, busy restaurants and the comedy of the school play. In the back of my mind, I’m aware that in a year of so much suffering for many many people, we are prompted by our own good human nature to be grateful for each day as it comes.
With a grateful heart for life and breath and thoughts of “I wish we could…” we have an opportunity to view next year, next month, next week, tomorrow in this new normal that I believe many of us are experiencing. Whether we like it or not, we’ve all been exposed to the reality that we are not invincible and have had real moments of fearing for our lives this year whether that be physically or mentally. Being grateful doesn’t have to lessen our goals, there’s no need to undermine our dreams just because our conscience is more aware of the value of life. Instead, we can use this understanding of value to enrich our short and long term goals.
We also can’t ignore the sense of community that has occurred from this year. In everything we do, we are encouraged to respect each other and be safe. Although this may differ from country to country, we can grasp this idea of looking up and recognising that we’re not the only ones going through this. What can we give back into our communities? Whether this is county wide, in the school yard, in work or even when we’re out and about. What difference do you want to stay or design into tomorrow?
With a grateful heart and determination for life, what is your tomorrow going to look like?