The Vulnerability of Motherhood

The Vulnerability of Motherhood

I saw her. I could see her heart thumping without seeing her heart at all. Living off adrenaline. Survival mode. Her baby, not quite 6 months old, sitting quietly on her lap with oxygen tubes attached to his face.

A hospital sleep specialist walks by to make himself a coffee. Courageously he asks, “how are you, and how is he going?”.

You could pressume that he was assigned to the baby as his specialist by the way the woman responded, you’d be wrong.

“Exhausted. I’m utterly exhausted.”, the mother replied. “This is so tiring.”

The staff members eyes widen as if to suggest he received more than he’d bargain for, and regretted asking anything in the first place. He walks away – politely but awkwardly smiling.

The room is quiet. After reading a brochure, I look up. She sits there jiggling her leg to bounce her baby. Jittering, fidgeting. This mother has not slept properly for some time.

Her inner engine is at full revs trying to get through the day. A symptom of stress all too familiar.

I blurt out, “Is he in here for sleep testing?”. Fully aware it’s likely to be for something else.

“Oh, he’s on a CPAP. We’ve just had an overnight sleep study a week ago. It was the best sleep I’ve had in ages. Because I didn’t have to worry and fuss, I knew someone was going to be there to watch him too. It wouldn’t just be me. ”

The flood gates open.

I can’t help but empathise and ask, has she got any help at home. “No. Not if you count a husband who argues with me in the middle of the night about the baby.”

She was alone. She is alone. And vulnerable. Maybe craving for someone to hear her out. And to validate that her emotions are accepted by someone. Her own opinion is not enough.

I sigh for her and share in her disappointment in the lack of support. Then spend the next 5 minutes listening to her story. The story of her baby having a “floppy airway” otherwise known as laryngomalacia. It creates an obstruction which stops him from breathing. She can’t sleep knowing this. Who could? The respiratory team and ENT battle over how to manage it, constantly.

They decided to perform a bronchoscopy recently to get a visual of it. Her son needed to be resuscitated twice in recovery. Putting on hold any surgical solution for the condition. I am overwhelmed with emotion for her.

She counted, almost 50 times she woke up to adjust his machine the previous night. She said her son had always sounded congested from birth but for some time nobody wanted to listen to her concerns. His condition is serious.

We were interrupted by each of our specialist nurses and doctors and went our separate ways.

If she were ever to read this, I would want her to know that I was privileged to hear her story. A stranger she may be, but a fellow comrade she is.

People often steer away from those who are full to the brim with the challenges in their lives, what if we were all eager to engage with them and connect with them? To hear their story, acknowledge their vulnerability and validate their feelings. How different the world could be.

This mother was at the end of her tether. Maybe she needed just one nice thing to show her that all is not dark and grim. That there is more to this life than scary things out of her control that send you pleading on your knees for mercy. To be heard, to have openness and understanding is worth more than any physical gift you can give someone.

Sending out love to all of you in my tribe who did this very thing for me recently. Your kindness makes the day shine a little brighter.

Sha x

**Illustration by Jamina Bone of @mommingwithtruth

What to do when Gratitute journaling isn’t your jam?

Something didn’t feel quite right about Gratitude journaling for me. I thought it was the format, so I bought a new journal. I suspected it was the method of writing, so I downloaded an app. Then I stopped gratitude journaling altogether. It felt vague, or unfulfilling. The words began to recycle themselves and become devoid of any emotion. And the term “gratitude” became lifeless to me.

Sure, I am grateful for a house, who fucking isn’t. Yeah, I am grateful for good health, a beautiful family, a car, my husband, but repeating these things every day never really affected change on my negative mindset. I’ve even recommended to you all to take up gratitude journaling yourselves, that was before I knew it didn’t work for me.

Knowing that it may not be for me, and feeling like a dickhead and that maybe I am a broken human, feeling guilty I can’t find more things to be grateful for, I stopped that form of journaling and slid back into my comfy home of listening to podcasts.

Maybe it has taken an Aussie bloke to say it in an Aussie accent. In my comfy home of podcasting whilst I fold washing, I found Hugh Van Cuylenburg (who I unashamedly have stalked since hearing about his Resilience Project work some time ago) speaking about this very topic and resilience on A Life of Greatness by Sarah Grynberg.

Instead of this “recycling” habit and feeling, to be honest, shit about ourselves because we cannot find anything more to be grateful for, we can try writing the following.

3 things that went well for you today.

Pshhhtt. Mind blown. Totally achievable. A child could do this. Each day is different, so each thing that went well could potentially be different. It can be simple. Or complex. And it doesn’t feel anxiety inducing as if there is a “wrong answer” like gratitude journaling can.

Hugh suggests that within 21 days you can rewire your thought patterns. Rewiring your brain. Challenge accepted.

With this tip, I resume some form of recognising what I am grateful for, in my downtrodden $4 Kmart journal. I shall report back with my findings after 21 days.

Happy Journaling!

*HIGHLY recommended that you follow Hugh on socials @theresilienceproject and check out his webpage. How refreshing it is to have an Aussie guy broaching this subject and making a difference in education.

*Also HIGHLY recommend subscribing to the A Life of Greatness podcast. Sarah is a fantastic interviewer. She really lets people deep dive and find their public speaking groove. Plus, she also interviews one of my favourite happiness author’s, Gretchen Rubin.

Like anything, take self-help advice with a grain of salt. Not every author, speaker, personality is right for your approach to life. And you shouldn’t feel guilty about that either.

Dear Men, I Hear You

Dear Men, I Hear You

Time to talk about the opposite sex, and to make a confession.

I grew up ignorant to the extent of mental health problems that men face. I grew up with “strong” men around me who went to work 6 or 7 days a week, never complained and if I am honest, hardly spoke of their feelings. If they were sad, I wouldn’t know it. They would withdraw and the little communication that was visible, would not be so visible anymore. It deeply saddens me to know that for so many men, this is the only option they feel is viable.

What saddens me further is that this response seems ingrained in them. That over time it seems to have been constructed from the pressure to generate and deliver the most money to the household, at any personal cost. At any amount of physical sacrifice, and at any mental sacrifice.

This I now know, because I have watched my husband battle with the societal expectation of what a man of the house, and a father, is expected to contribute to a family. To the detriment of his mental wellbeing. Desperately wanting to be present for our children and being limited to, if lucky, a 10-minute timeframe per day to spend with them. Sacrificing time to be the main breadwinner of our house so that I need not work full time and can be there for our boys. Then at least one of us can watch them grow up.

Eventually it has taken its toll.

Work. And work harder. Be tougher. Don’t complain. Have a drink if you feel shit about something. If you still feel shit, have another. It is a cycle that I can say I have watched through many generations of men around me.

As a “mum blogger”, as a wife, a mother of boys, and as a woman who is surrounded by amazing men that stay quiet when there is so much to be said (yet maybe they just don’t know how to), I feel that voicing depression and anxiety in men is just as important as voicing women’s. Because my family and friends are a team. And when one player is on the bench, we don’t simply delist them without a second thought. We guide them on the path to recovery. We want to face the next game with our strongest side.

The rate of male suicide shocks me. The statistic really is jaw-dropping.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2017 about 75% of people who died by suicide were males. In a perfect world there would be 0% for both sexes, of course. But this information is telling us something.

As hard as parents try to educate their sons about the range of emotions and developing tools in their tool box to cope with them, maybe it just takes time and perseverance of this to undo what evolution has itself done. Maybe it takes society speaking more of the challenges that men face. That fathers face. Where they are to accept that for many years their gender was required to work while women raised their children and if they felt the urge to be with them then they need to stow it away. Just suck it up because nothing will change.

After writing blogs about mental health, particularly post-natal depression and anxiety, and seeing how many women can voice their issues (not all women, we each have our own cross to bear) I exist online in a space where men’s mental health is not discussed as much.

I simply wanted to give some air time to acknowledge the men in my life that are feeling deflated, feeling lonely, or that something is missing in their life but they can’t quite pinpoint it, feeling as though they aren’t enough for their family or feeling guilty for the lack of time they may spend with their babies and other halves. Feeling full of emotion and feeling it is unacceptable for them to express it.

By showing there are some guys out there able to get in touch with emotions, becoming aware of how to process them and how to use words in order to manage and express them, you are showing future generations of boys that they can do it too.

While times are slowly changing with a broader range of diversity in household roles, from where I sit men are still pigeonholed as less sensitive and that they can “deal” with working away from family. Men are still generalised as being tougher emotionally because the culture of acceptance is still shifting.

I can only hope that with continual education of this in our schools and through openness with family and friends, that our children will be raised in a different world. I hope that as a result the rate of stress, anxiety and depression in men reduces dramatically.

***Special mention to my husband who has been so brave and allowed me to write about his experiences. Love you babe.

________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Here is where you can get some more info and support:

https://www.blackdoginstitute.org.au/

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/who-does-it-affect/men

https://au.movember.com/mens-health/mental-health

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/mens-mental-health

Christmas Anxiety

Christmas Anxiety

Colourful lights, beautiful decorations, Christmas music everywhere and not to mention the Christmas dinners, lunches and other events you are lucky enough to have been invited to. A time to get into the spirit and put a smile on your dial.

Unless you are Mum who already deals with anxiety.

The to-do lists are infinite and with every one task, each present bought, it feels as if 3 more sprout. Like the annoying grey hairs in your regrowth that you pluck out because you haven’t made it to the hairdressers in over 3 months. Or you stopped dyeing your hair because you don’t get the time.

Christmas is a wonderful time when you have small children but being Santa, being the homemaker, or even being the breadwinner, can feel like you have to find more than 24 hours in a day just to get all of the food and gifts prepped before Christmas.

I have spent many years winding myself up over the Christmas rush. Worrying I wouldn’t get a carpark (you eventually do), stressing that the traffic would be too bad (it eventually moves on), or that the gifts I made/bought would not be good enough (if the receiver doesn’t like it then that really is their problem), circulating these thoughts may sound like fun but it sucks the enjoyment out of the festive activities. Who would have thought.

So, when I thought of writing this post a week ago, I have since tested some theories and put them into practice to that I can report back my findings.

One may consider photo printing stores such as Officeworks a no-go so close to Jesus’ birthday but I decided to take the bull (reindeer?) by the horns (antlers?) and strap in for a lengthy wait. After some chaotic and stressful weeks I was able to shift perspective and somewhat crazily look forward to standing a line merely thinking about nothing more than the ground I was standing on. With that perspective and more relaxed attitude, I found the lines to be shorter – even making conversations with other waiting Mum’s (there were a few of us of varying ages) and assisting others to use the machines! If THAT isn’t in the true spirit of Christmas then I don’t know what is.

This technique has carried on and while some days I have become flustered, for the most part I have felt calm enough to let the pushy people push in front of me without wasting my breath telling them off, only to have people waiting behind me comment on my baby boys beautiful smile.

I observed the most delightful elderly couple, who had also commented on JJ’s smile (this happens a lot), walk together as the husband helped his less mobile wife walk with confidence, ensuring she didn’t trip or fall. Stopping to look back and smile at us occasionally. Friendliness you think has dissipated in this world.

Another Christmas anxiety-inducer is the thought that the 25th is a deadline for any fun activities. That you must complete all Christmas traditions before that time. Quickly squeeze in that trip to Santa’s Magical Kingdom when you already want to look at Christmas lights, check out the local estate Christmas party in the park while making sure you are home for Santa to drive around the streets in the firetruck (because what kid doesn’t like that). If only I had Doctor Strange’s time stone. Instead I have chosen a few achievable items on the list and otherwise spent time our family or practicing self-care by doing yoga whilst drinking some bubbles then painting my nails watching Home Alone. Merry Christmas to me! And the daily stress afterwards seemed bearable to cope with.

Anxiety is a horrid and all-consuming condition that helps you find the flaws in almost anything. It amplifies the negatives. What would typically be exciting becomes overwhelming and sickening. If you can get some quality sleep, a couple of minutes or hours to care for yourself then you have more chance of battling the crowds at the shops without becoming so irate you hip and shoulder Barbara in Aisle 5 for cutting in front of you.

My Christmas wish for all of you is that you get some you time, so you can spent the remainder of your time with loved ones living in the moment without accumulated stress or worry.

Enjoy the Holiday Season, Have a Very Merry Christmas and Happiest New Year

 

 

 

Mum-Shaming Myself: Post-Partum Body Comparison

Gumption and mental grit may be the badge of honour you earn after a second or third baby.

It took some getting used to my body not “bouncing back” this time around. 3 months after my first birth I was well on my way to becoming leaner and fitter than ever before, but with my second baby it just did not happen.

With the challenge of having 2 children to care for I had decided not to add the stress and anguish of looking as if I hadn’t had a baby this time. Whereas my first experience left me obsessing over it, somewhat unhealthily.

Having a second baby, I almost assumed my body would know what to do, how to bounce back yet again. But realistically I was 4 years older, 2 months off the age of 30, with a differing lifestyle. Going for walks with the baby in the pram has only happened a handful of times, as the opportunity was not available when I was free and willing to do so. Yet I could get out of the house daily before and walk for an hour with Zac sleeping away.

When my efforts fortified, hearing compliments became like a drug to me. “You look as if you haven’t had a baby at all!”. Had I beaten the mum-bod curse? Had I made it to the elusive MILF status? The most important question, now that I have experienced both sides, is it really that fucking important anyway?

There are enormous amounts of content bolstering motherhood, how you have earned stripes, how you should be proud of your body regardless of the opinions of others. But I found myself so hung up on them and using them to fuel myself when I should have been fuelling my own fire. When I should have been caring less about how the comments made me feel and cared more of how I felt about myself when I looked in the mirror, and what was behind the lense I was viewing myself with.

So here I am now. Another baby into my story and convincing myself it is okay to love my body when I don’t have other people telling me I look lovable by their standards.

Social media hurts to look at when you feel something between admiration and utter envy of famous personalities ability to regain pre-baby bodies within a couple of months. You almost look for those who appear to seem human and take their time and who still have mum tum in the “9 months in and 9 months out” photo.

A 15 minute workout these days is manageable on the odd occasion. For sake of sanity and for what my dismal energy stores allow. Keeping a form of muscle conditioning is important to me for the longevity and quality of my life but it cannot always take precedence over my responsibilities as a Mum, having a job and being a wife.

One day this will seem trivial. Spending time tossing up between wanting for my first post partum physique and being proud as hell for what this body aided me to do.
That little pouch sitting over my lower abs will always exist. It reminds us of the human life we grew inside there, and that miracles can seem impossible but occur right before our very eyes. Our breasts will be forever changed. They even scare you to look at sometimes. I can even see and feel that my pelvic bones changed placement with each pregnancy. That is awe inspiring. This body, those bones, literally moved great distances as far as they are concerned and birthed two children.

We may sit back and judge other women who seem to be completely unaffected by one or more pregnancies, but we never know their true story, what change was made to their physicality or what changed inside their brain.

Gumption and mental grit may be the badge of honour you earn after a second or third baby.

Gaining an understanding of temporary frustrations and learning that this precious baby and toddler phase speeds by so fast could be the perspective we gain. Maybe even the realisation that fitness can be earned, we can gain it back. It is not like a rare unicorn that can never be caught. That mental toughness though, that is brought about by dealing with the hard stuff that life will throw at you. You can read books and listen to podcasts but nothing can train your brain quite like living through a testing time and coming out the other side of it.

These thoughts get me through. And exposing myself to realistic, healthy and likeminded women or men who share honest takes of how they reach their goals.

Letting go of expectations to be like the “old me” gets easier when I feel the comfort of experience and knowledge gracing my daily mothering abilities. How good is wisdom?

Until next time,

Sha xx

Image may contain: 2 people, including Shaara Lee Horin, people smiling, people standing and child

For positive Mums on IG:

@emilyskye @reviejane

For some realness:
@garyvee

Gary Vayerchuck

A Letter To Our Sons

Dear Zac and Judd,

Once upon a time your Mum swore she would never write an “open” style letter and post it on the internet, for fear she would be judged. But she became confident and realised she actually really wanted her boys, and the world, to read this one in particular.

Throughout your upbringing we know you may resent Mum and Dad for setting boundaries for you or following through with disciplinary threats like; “Put down your Pokémon and eat breakfast right now or we will take them off you!”. And seriously, I literally told Zac this today and the day before, and I actually took them off you mate. Unfortunately you have that many of the little bastards that you have forgotten I took those specific ones.

Anyway, my point: You are very fortunate children. You were born and are living in a time were you are safe and have very little to be concerned about (we hope this continues).

Your great grandparents lived through World War II, which is why Mum and Dad will get so grumpy if you ever complain about not getting enough toys or superficial rubbish. Our family’s have starved and battled to live in this country and we hope one day you will understand the importance of that.

What you are about to read is like a manual of how your Mum and Dad were raised, with our own additions developed from our own experiences, that we have since raised you with. Without guidance we know, and have seen with our own two eyes, how out of hand a persons emotional wellbeing can get.

Our biggest wish for you both is that you grow up strong and healthy mentally and physically, and that you will be able to tackle the adversity life often throws at you. And we hope and pray that you don’t end up bratty like the “Cash me outside how bout dah” girl. You may need to Google that one.

Here it is;

WE DON’T CARE WHO YOU MARRY. So long as they respect you and you respect them in return. We also don’t care if you never marry.

TRY, ALWAYS. This life does not hand you what you want accidentally. It does not reward entitled behaviour or grant wishes to it either. You will need to set goals and work your backsides off to get what you want. Know where to direct your best efforts to achieve your goals but always do your best.

FIND A WAY TO LOVE YOURSELF. That way you lessen the chance of being in unhealthy and toxic relationships.

BE SELF SUFFICIENT AND INDEPENDANT. Wash your own dishes, cook your own meals, and clean your own laundry. Do not rely on another human being to do all of this for you. That is one of the largest contributors to a failing relationship. Expecting your life partner to pick up after you or make your lunches when they too are working and contributing to your lifestyle is detrimental to a relationship.

TRAVEL AS MUCH AS YOU CAN. Even if it breaks our hearts to see you go, deep down we want you to experience as much as this world has to offer.

LEARN FROM YOUR OWN AND OTHER PEOPLE’S MISTAKES. Making mistakes is perfectly okay. What is not okay is repeating them and expecting a different outcome each time. This is often called “the definition of insanity”.

CONFIDENCE EQUALS SUCCESS. This doesn’t mean being boisterous, obnoxious and rude. It means being true to yourself. People will listen to you when you speak with embedded confidence and self-trust. Don’t second guess yourself, or let anybody else make you feel as if your voice is less important. If they do, find another circle of friends.

LISTEN. Mum learnt this the hard way. Sometimes you need to stop ranting and simply listen to what somebody has to say. There are many introverted people that are waiting for the opportunity to speak and what they have to say can be so valuable.

BE HEALTHILY IMPULSIVE. Planning is great, but sometimes real memories are made by doing rather than spending lots of time planning and procrastinating.

ALWAYS PRACTICE COMMON DECENCY. It is rare as I write this. It will most likely be even more rare by the time you read this. Assist the elderly, let them take your seat on the train. Even if you do not receive a thankyou, feel good that you helped another human being. Have respect for people’s boundaries and their property. Be aware that your actions effect those around you. You may have no concept of what type of life somebody has lived. A simple kind gesture could make their day.

FAILURE IS AWESOME. Keep practicing, keep researching and learning, keep failing until you get it right. Giving up is the easy way out.

DON’T FEAR CHANGE. Change is growth. It is hard but that is where the magic happens.

IF YOU DON’T ASK, YOU DON’T RECEIVE. It takes real guts to stand up in front of a classroom or a crowd to ask a question you need an answer to but if you don’t withstand those moments of discomfort, you will forever regret it. Be bold.

DON’T LIVE IN REGRET. Clichéd, but true. In conjunction with the above – take the risk. Breathe in the awkwardness of a new situation or a trialling time, breathe out the confidence in knowing it is best for you in the long term.

RESPECT WHERE YOU COME FROM. You are fortunate to have loving family members. Ask them about their life some time. Get them to show you pictures or tell you about their children. Learn and grow from their experiences.

FIND YOUR BIGGEST SUPPORTERS. And support them back. They could be friends, family, colleagues, people you met through sports or co-curricular activities. They are instrumental in your wellbeing. When you feel down and out, make sure you have got someone to vent to that will not only listen but will help build you back up again so you can get on with life.

DWELLING GETS YOU NOWHERE. Your Dad told your Mum something once, “worrying is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.” One of his very few wise moments, kidding.

RESILIENCE. Although we try our best to teach you this, it can be a tough skill to develop. Bounce back. One dodgy morning or a few sad times does not set the tone for the remainder of your day or your life. You can control what you absorb so make sure whatever that is, that it is worth your efforts.

THERE WILL BE PEOPLE WHO DO NOT LIKE YOU, AND YOU THEM. You may never discover why. It is perfectly acceptable. At this point in time there is over 7 BILLION people on Earth, you cannot be socially compatible with all of them. If you have to be in each others lives, accept this and put your efforts to people you do get along with.

NO MEANS NO. This is important, boys. Nothing gives you the right to physically or mentally overpower someone into doing what you want. Domestic and sexual violence is not okay. Your family has NEVER condoned it. We will be the first on the list to report you to police should you ever try it.

KNOW THAT YOU ARE LOVED. Mum and Dad love you more than we can possibly tell you. We have faith in you. We trust that within you are bright and positive spirits with all of the potential in the world.

There they are, boys. The snippets of life experience and core values that we have to share and have tried to instill in you. One more very important one, HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOUR. Just please don’t let it be your father’s 😆.

Love Always and Forever,

Mum xoxo

Whatever you do woman, do not drop the ball

Whatever you do woman, do not drop the ball

That’s right. Parents have been working and parenting simultaneously for years, hop to it lady. And stop your whinging because it is not as if you are the first person to experience this. I’m saying this to myself by the way.

Get up, get yourself dressed and made up for the day, make the bed, have breakfast, feed and dress the baby, play with the baby or you’re an ignorant parent, wake and make breakfast for the older child whilst being a positive and excited Mum, eventually yell at him for not eating breakfast (you have asked him to do so at least 20 times already), ask him to get dressed, again, and again, then yell at him because he cannot hear a damned thing (constant ear problems), clean up kitchen, double check all persons bags for the day are adequately packed, pack items into the car, try to appease the crying baby and clean his refluxy spit up from his freshly changed clothes, change his clothes again, get older child to brush teeth and go to the toilet and brush his hair, sit on toilet floor while said child inconveniently poops because “he needs someone to talk to”, then argue about why he needs to brush his teeth and wash his hands, put baby in car while he screams like Chewbacca getting kicked in the nuts, request older child puts his shoes on, repeat another gazillion times until you give in and do it yourself because now you are going to be late, buckle older child into car seat whilst refusing to listen to some weird Pikachu song on YouTube, awkwardly deliver spewy baby to daycare along with wandering older child who is still mad at you for moving him from this daycare to a kinder, rush back to car, zip through school traffic to kinder while dodging other flustered parents, argue again with child this time about wearing his own backpack, sign child in and quickly get shown around the latest activities (even if you are needing to leave because your feel guilty af for yelling at him all morning), rush back to car and drive to work. Look at the time, it is not even 9am yet.

This is not any different to most parent’s mornings. In fact, I am very privileged to have the life I do, and I am aware of that. Which is exactly why I am being hard on myself. Which is exactly why I work myself up into a twisted ball of stress that is so tightly knitted, I snap at the mention of anyone expecting something slight from me. I whisper to myself, “please don’t expect any more from me.”

I have asked my Mum why I find it so hard. She managed to make it through years of working 6 days a week and running a farm while caring for us, getting up way before dawn and driving an hour from remote farmland to take us to our grandmothers only to get home at 6:30-7:00 at night and do the dinner, bath, bed routine. I don’t know how she did it. She replied to my question, “Sha, the pace of life was very different then”. She is right. We have smartphones strapped to our hands and they may as well be a part of our body because they even join us in the loo. Hey, I am the first to admit I am guilty of taking it everywhere with me. We are always accessible, always switched on, always processing information, being told via several channels how to parent, or that we do it wrong, or that we don’t eat a balanced diet, or that we should eat that tasty fucking burger that Facebook & Instagram ads so rudely shows on my newsfeed at dinnertime every night. Be polite, but don’t let yourself be walked over, be strong, but be politically correct or invest in a figurative shovel to dig yourself a hole, be an attentive parent, but research how to be that kind of parent because society says you are doing it wrong. So does the old lady in line at supermarket checkout, by the way. Just. Be. More.

I can’t stand it. And I break. It feels bloody impossible to parent the way that suits your family with the enormous aforementioned pressures being thrust into your face. The expectations add up so much so that I transform into a no-shit-taking demon like woman and god help you if you ask any more of me, even if it is to know where the loo is. I cannot afford to drop the “parenting” juggling ball as result of fulfilling another expectation. My children need me. And that expectation cloud around me soils my family goals.

My husband calls me the single-married-mum. Meaning, I am considered a married woman but he is home so very little because of his job that I am the one who keeps the cogs spinning in the house, while working and trying to be there for our kids. I closely watch other parents do the same thing and never will I ever stop being amazed at how hard they all work. Whether they work full time or not, it is nothing short of inspiring. We share the one goal. To give our children healthy, plentiful lives. We live in a lucky country and have that option thankfully. But the pressure of leading a “balanced life” is real.

You know when you are at the end of your tether and on the brink of burnout. You are so tired you could vomit, sometimes you might. It feels like you are a bottle of champagne, you get filled up to the brim with bubbly expectation, get shaken up by the need to be everything to everyone then eventually the cork pops right off and you are angrily and resentfully bursting the contents out directing it at anyone who dare stand in your way. Or, you implode, you take those feelings and you trap them inside like a turtle. A very, very sad little turtle.

So, do you know what I do? I drop the juggling ball. I have dropped the ball. I will continue to DROP THE BALL. Right now I write to you from my bedroom where I can hear my cousin-in-law babysitting our children. I asked her to come over and help me out so that I don’t go completely postal on the world. Working and mum-ing is such a huge adjustment. My baby is almost 5 months old and every inch of the mother within me is unsettled by the notion I have to leave him at a child care centre 2 days a week. Prior to this, even parenting full time at home felt like a huge responsibility because you are expected to have a cleaner, more organised house than others while teaching your pre-schooler some Beethoven on the piano. I’ve done both and both are as equally tough.

Listen here, reader. It is okay to surrender to your feelings and let them out. If you don’t you are opening up a future pandora’s box of undealt-with issues and that will snowball like a motherfucker. Take a deep breath in. We ain’t perfect. In fact, let me share with you what seems like anti self-help style advice because I’m certain I’ve never heard of Tony Robins or Louise Hay suggesting this so bluntly. Maybe you’re the kind of person that needs to receive information in this bogan-esque style…

Steps on how to drop the ball:

First, you need to accept that when you have too much on your plate, something’s gotta give.

Secondly, you need to narrow down if you need “you” time, “family” time or identify another space in your life that needs more attention.

Thirdly, accept that as a result of refocusing your attention, things such as washing, thorough house cleans or yard work may suffer. It is okay, those things don’t have feelings and you can always do it later when you get more energy again, or outsource them if you’re willing and able. Heads up, people may not like your refocussed decision. Repeat this mantra in your mind: “fuck off, it is my life”. Just kidding, but pick something to the tune of that and it wouldn’t hurt to mentally repeat it until it sticks.

Fourthly (is that a word?), be courageous and DO IT. Drop the juggling charade. Hardest step guys. This is what separates you from the pack of people stuck in a loop. You can continue a façade that you can manage it all, but ultimately it is about your lifestyle preference and what you can cope with. I attempt multitasking but it simply is not my strongest forte, so I need to separate things like a dude (P.S. not sure I believe that tale, my husband is better at multitasking than me).  

The reward of this is worth more than any people pleasing task you would complete. You fill the empty “self-care” cup shoved at the back of your to do list and suddenly the to do list does not scare the bejesus out of you anymore.

Trust me, I literally did this today and I feel so much more human.

Good luck my lovelies.

Sha x

 

READ (and watch)

I Don’t Know How She Does it by Kate Reddy

WATCH

Bad Moms 1 & 2