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Entries in parenting (20)


Losing sight of our needs while caring for others.

Our overwhelming desire to care for others and contribute to their well-being is often our own undoing.

We care! We care deeply and completely for our partners, our parents, our siblings, our friends, our children ... and that is what motivates us to keep going when we feel our reserves are dwindling.  

In caring for others so consistently, we often find imbalance creeping into our lives. Perhaps we notice it, perhaps we don't initially.  Many of us are not sure what to do about that imbalance, and so we ignore it or avoid it and carry on with our caring for others.

Many of us hold the belief that taking care of ourselves means ceasing to take care of others, and that in order to take care of others properly, we must forget ourselves. 

Those of us who have forgotten ourselves either pay the price personally (physically, emotionally, mentally) or seek to make others pay for it!

Our own joy and well-being must be priority when we care for others - particularly if we want that caring to be effective. If this is not the case, then it would be better for us and others if we did something else.

How often do we do damage to ourselves while doing good that we are no longer capable of doing much of anything? We cut ourselves off from our Self to such an extent that our energy and vitality run out ... we become broken.

By failing to listen to our Self we are living without compassion towards that Self and life (through demanding, controlling, overworking, feeling guilty) we run the risk of producing a violent reaction from life itself via an accident, disease, depression, anxiety, mourning).  

This new conversation with Self starts with asking "what are my needs?" or "how am I meeting my own needs and what needs are not being met just now". 

Begin it today. 

Sarah xx


My annual journey into the dark.

Last Saturday, my youngest child turned 8 years old. One of the most remarkable things about this event each year is that it provides me with a moment of recall and reflection: of a different, tougher time in my life - a time when I barely held on...

... a time when I was in so much pain that taking my life, or leaving my family was the only solution I could see to saving them all. 

Each year on my daughter's birthday I am reminded of her first year of life. I had barely finished breast-feeding her older brother before she was showing in my body.  There was little time (for me at least) to get a handle on the new world I was living in, the choice I had made and the consequences/results of that choice. There was little time for my relationship to catch up and right itself enough to handle a second child. Little time to re-find Sarah to the extent that I could find her again easily enough after a second child arrived.

Each year I recall the people around me who "saw" me. I remember the ones whe reached out to me in small ways to encourage me to hang in there (what for exactly I had no idea at the time), the people who told me it would get easier. 

It was a terrifying place to be. A place of such disconnection from my Self, my partner, my children and my place in the world around me. A lot of it felt familiar: I recognised the signs from feelings I had after the birth of my son.

I stood in my kitchen crying at 3am night after night, imagining my departure from the family and my death, or both. I came up with ways to distance myself further from my children and partner - to ensure that they would not have to put up with me any longer: not suffer my messiness, my anger, my pain, my abhorrence of those parts of my Self I found faulted, lacking, imperfect.

I wanted to run and hide from my incompetence, my inability to feel, my numbness, my psychotic moments. I wanted to save them all from me. I was certain my death would be a better all-round solution. I would do the one thing I could do to help them all - I would take myself out of the equation for good

I believed it was something that so many Mothers had no experience of ... and now I know that SO MANY do.

I didn't talk to anyone about how I was feeling: that would have been the ultimate failure ... to show the crazy shit that was in my mind? No way!

Then one of those 3am mornings I decided that I had to hang on: that an imperfect mother was better than no mother at all, that my 3am madness was just that ... a sickness, a dis-ease. 

I went in and woke up my partner (now husband). I told him the crazy stuff I had been thinking for months. I let it all tumble out into the darkness and cold. I let him see my insides. I risked it: I showed him my dirty, nasty guts, my diseased mind.

(He's a great sleeper and 3am wake-ups are not his forte - so you can imagine what it was like for him!!!)

I talked out all the acid and hate. I shared the black, dark poison inside me. I dumped it all upon him, unable to take responsibility for it all (at that point) or to know what to do with it: I knew I had to get it out into the light if I was going to be able to hang on. 

It was the moment I began the journey back. I knew by my actions that I wanted to live and love more than I wanted to die or leave.

I know now that I always wanted that and always will - but that mental illness has a way of making us think things that are not true. 

I know the value of having someone to turn to in the wee small hours of terror.

I know the importance of facing the fear, shining a light upon it, baring its core, sifting through the pieces to see what is, and what isn't real. 

I know the courage it takes. I understand the risk that it is. I honor and value that journey. 

I take it every year ... to remind myself of how far I went and how far I've come. 

Where does your journey take you? 




Sleeplessness and the need for jeans.

My children are 7 and 9 years old. They sleep the whole night through. My challenge on the sleep front these days is still my children ... but it's changed from being about their sleeplessness to focusing on their needs and the ways in which I am not sure I am meeting them. Last night I lay awake thinking about the need for jeans.

Yesterday, after years of resisting, my 7 year old asked for a pair of jeans. She noticed one of her friends dresses simply (jeans and a top) while she herself has chosen up until now to put on layers (a skirt with leggings etc) and she wants to try something new.

I was a bit surprised by the sudden interest in fashion. Previously she has only wanted to wear trousers of the sport type. Anything too 'flashy' (meaning cool, rock chic, black, jeans etc - ummmm I think that is what she meant by it) was a no-no. Suddenly she has compared herself to one of her friends and found that blue jeans and a white t-shirt is her new mode. All of which is fine with me. I love that she wants to try new things and change up a bit. That part I can deal with.

What I am uncertain about is the unseen parts ... the ones she is unable to verbalise for me.

I realise that parenting is about a constant process of working these things out without many guidelines - except perhaps the ones you can glean from friends with older children. I realise that I don't know what I am doing most of the time. I realise that just when I get a handle on it, it changes again.

What keeps me awake in the night is trying to work out what else might be going on that I cannot see. What needs does she have (beyond jeans) that I am not accounting for? Are love, hugs, regular together time enough? Since I don't really know what I am doing, what am I missing?

We found some new jeans - two pairs her Dad bought her last year that she refused to wear at the time so they were put in the box to give to charity. We got them out and she tried them on. Then we found a few other things she had never worn that are still her size. She was so thrilled and proud of her new look.

The jeans issue was easily solved.

If only all her needs were that visible.



Shut your door against the world for a while.

Just HAVE to share this quote from the latest blog post via Karen Wallace at Your Luscious Life ...

In fact that is why the lives of most women are so vaguely unsatisfactory. They are always doing secondary and menial things (that do not require all their gifts and ability) for others and never anything for themselves. Society and husbands praise them for it (when they get too miserable or have nervous breakdowns) though always a little perplexedly and halfheartedly and just to be consoling. The poor wives are reminded that that is just why wives are so splendid – because they are so unselfish and self-sacrificing and that is the wonderful thing about them! But inwardly women know that something is wrong.

They sense that if you are always doing something for others, like a servant or nurse, and never anything for yourself, you cannot do others any good. You make them physically more comfortable. But you cannot affect them spiritually in any way at all. For to teach, encourage, cheer up, console, amuse, stimulate or advise a husband or children or friends, you have to be something yourself …

If you would shut your door against the children for an hour a day and say; ‘Mother is working on her five-act tragedy in blank verse!’ you would be surprised how they would respect you. They would probably all become playwrights.

::Brenda Ueland::

There is so much simplicity in the words here, and so much we need to remember for ourselves, our own mothers/wives/sisters/aunts/sisters-in-law/girlfriends. 

Share it around. Then close the door on the world ... and be something for yourself.



Focus on the task at hand.

The reality, with 7 million others walking the earth (not counting the animals who can), is that your relationships with other individuals are not all about you, your stuff, your needs, your thoughts, your fears, your hopes, your dreams, your wants.

When it comes to relationship challenges, your task is to work on the 50% that is your stuff - and leave them to work on the 50% that is theirs. 

Oh WAIT! Perhaps you belong to the "its all my fault" school? Or maybe you are a member of the "its all THEIR fault" crew.

And while neither of these is true - more importantly ... neither of these viewpoints is helpful. It's waaaaaaay more effective to look at things from a "what is theirs, what is mine" perspective; its often the only way to work things out. 

Imagine if we all worked on our own stuff and left others to work on theirs? Imagine if we did this without judging ourselves (big ask huh?) and without judging the other imperfect humans around us? 

This doesn't have to be wishful thinking - its all possible by making an important choice ... to do just that! 

Self-reflect ... thoroughly, regularly, honestly. Do it gently, kindly, openly with yourself. Breathe slowly and deliberately.

In doing so, you won't have much time to busy yourself with others people's faults. Not only that, but by practicing being kind and gentle with yourself, you will learn to do so with others. 

We are all here learning at our own pace, in our own imperfect way - our children included.

It's not all about you. Focus on the task at hand.