Having a baby (again) has reminded me that there are many moments in the day when there is nothing to do but nurse – and if you have big hungry babies like I seem to, those moments can sometimes last from 2pm til 7pm.
The hardest thing about having two for me is actually the hardest thing about having one; learning to let go. This does not come easily to me. I like the sense of being in control, and when you are at the whim of a newborn (actually, children in general) it is even more apparent how false a feeling of control is. Lowering my expectations sounds easy in principle but is something I find difficult to do.
And this in turn stems from my lifelong suspicion that everyone else must have ‘It’ all figured out. But this is perhaps something a lot of us suffer from. On days when I feel nourished and balanced, I have no need to compare myself to others. How fantastically one person is or is not doing, has no affect on me. On days when I feel like I haven’t achieved anything, or I’ve had some less than desirable parenting moments, it is so easy (particularly with the help of Facebook, which I really hate that I’ve got sucked back into) to feel the need to compare and to conclude that I’ve just not done as good a job as I should have.
Anyway, when I start feeling like that, I know I need to take a step back and start applying more mindfulness to my days. (Because, my goodness, nothing makes me feel happier, wholer, calmer, than being more mindful) I realised last night I’ve not been very mindful recently, and how much of an affect that has on my mood, my reaction to Ava etc. So I’ve decided to do that. To find a little bit of time – just half an hour, each day, to do some mindfulness meditations, and to reread a few of my favourite mindfulness books (mostly by Jon Kabat-Zinn), and to just try, really try, to expect a little less of myself and to remember that it is very unlikely anyone is judging me as harshly as I judge myself.
After our horrid rainstorm incident when both my children were crying and soaked through (and I of course was going through all the ways I had been badly prepared, impatient, snappy, and quite possibly had given then both pneumonia) and we were in bed together, Ezra happy because he had milk, Ava happy because she had her stripey ice lolly, I realised that kids are the absolute best at teaching us about mindfulness and being present. No matter how intensely they feel things, or respond to a situation, they also have the ability to let it go and move on.
Being with both of them these last five weeks has been blissful, and sometimes hard. There have been a couple of days that have been very hard, and some moments in even the best days that have been challenging. But it’s also made me feel that I am exactly where I want to be, doing what I want to be doing. I’ve spent a lot of time this week talking about the future – where we think we might move, when, what we might be doing soon – and it is all exciting, even though we don’t really know where we will end up or how we will get there. But when I’m not trying to get control over what is always, essentially, uncontrollable, then I know without a doubt that this is what I want for my life – and there’s no new way to say it. Being a parent is the most challenging but most incredibly fantastic thing I have ever done. I’m grateful for what it teaches me and for just being on this ride, in the middle of it all.
There is no ‘What Ava Wore’ today because yesterday Ava was mostly naked all day long (hello, sun!)