Monday, 28 April 2014


Opinions. We all have our own. Some of us like to stand up and shout them from the rooftops. Others keep theirs to themselves. Some like to push their own onto others, while many fall out with friends due to a difference of them.

I'm responsible for all of the above, at least I have been at some stage in my life. It's only in recent years, however, that I've learned to not take other's point of view to heart. If you do, it can really spoil an otherwise beautiful day. I like to try and give people the benefit of doubt, that is, when I hear something that can only be described as unnecessary negativity, I'll mentally label it as one of the following:
A) A dry sense of humour (this I like!)
B) Honesty (matter-of-fact-style, perhaps a critiquing)
C) It came out of their mouth with little thought
D) They're only trying to help
If it's none of the above, it's probably;
E) They're putting others down to make themselves feel better

Growing up, I heard a majority of E's. Probably due to teenagers' lack of confidence. Then over time, as I've filtered out the nasties, I'm a recipient of a lot of A's. Perfect. Oh and a few B's - as an arts 'n' crafter this has helped improve my work. However I do hear an occasional E still. It's easier said than done to just ignore and move on, as the ego gets defensive and wants a fight (I don't see the harm in an imaginary pummeling of the bully ;-) ). The last time an E was dished out to me, it was aimed not only at me, but also at my son (yes, a 3-month-old baby). My primitive instinct screamed in my ear to get the claws out and launch myself into the nasty piece of work that stood before me, but thankfully my intellect took over, I smiled and walked away. I was so happy as I really wasn't in the mood to mop up several pints of blood.

Anyway, I read somewhere that an argument is a form of verbal martial arts and I've found this to be so helpful. If something is verbally aimed at you, if you don't respond to it, it doesn't affect you. Better still, you can deflect it back at them with a question, eg: "Do you feel better now that you've said that?". This is a great one as it surprises them and you can see the look of disbelief on their face followed by what looks like overwhelming discomfort at not knowing how to respond. If you respond or not, just know it is a choice you make, whether or not you let it affect your mood.

Indulging in a bit of imaginary fisty cuffs, where you win of course, is always a bit of a pick-me-up too!

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Celebrate Yourself!

I'm a firm believer in looking after number one, yourself, before others. It may seem selfish, but I think it's healthy. I don't mean every decision I make is to benefit me, I just like to generally keep myself happy.

When I was about 17, I read an interview of a celebrity who was turning 40 that particular year. A question put to her, was "What would you tell your younger self, if you could? Is there anything that has taken you 40 years to learn?" I can't quote her exact words, but her answer was learning to say no. That it's ok to say no (one of my favorite mottos now). Why this answer stuck with me, I don't know..  I definitely admired her, and I suppose at that time in my life I found myself saying 'yes' to keep others happy, making myself miserable in the process.

A friend invited me over for a barbecue and my answer was no. My head told me I should accept the invitation, as this was the polite thing to do, but in my heart I just didn't fancy it. I didn't have any other plans, but I was enjoying my home time with my little boy. When she heard me decline and my (lack of) reason, her response was "Now I like that. That's refreshing. Honesty. Others would have probably said 'oh thanks that'd be lovely', then text to say they can't make it. No bullshit with you!".
And so, I had a lovely day in with my son.

My son. The lovely little person that has put a bit of a hold on me looking after myself first. Having children kind of does that to you :-) but as another of my favorite mottos goes; 'Everything in moderation'. To have a happy child, I believe, requires having a happy parent. So it's all about balance. Although so far, I couldn't be happier, BECAUSE I have this child.

Well today being a wet weather day, I'm going to have another one of my quiet days at home, tending to my boy's every need - just doing what makes us happy.

One day when the boy is a little older, wet weather days will be spent splashing in muddy puddles... if he likes it, that is ;-)

Friday, 11 April 2014

Learning to Let Go

During some random googling a few days ago, I came across this article: "The 5 Hardest Things About Being A Mom". It covers a few topics, but the ones that got me thinking were of the theme of 'Letting Go'. Now, I am at the beginning of my motherhood journey, but I still think about how I would like to parent in future, however letting go is something that I don't think you can quite prepare yourself for.

So according to the article I found, Mom Challenge number 3 is separation anxiety (yours):

For weeks Kathie Papera, 36, dreaded 4-year–old Ella's first day of preschool. "I pictured her crying and holding on to my feet," says the Manhattan Beach, CA, mom. To her surprise, however, Ella, who is usually of the hide-behind-mom's-leg variety of shy, stopped acknowledging her mother's existence after about 10 minutes with her new teachers and friends. "At some point Ella ran up to me and whispered in my ear, 'It's okay, Mommy, you can go now,'" Papera says, so she slowly backed out of the room and cried the entire drive home.

Similarly, in Tanis Miller's blog post, "To India and Beyond" she talks about her first born's first day at school:

"Letting go was hard to do that morning. It was only with time and the arrival of the little yellow school bus bringing her home that I was able to exhale. My baby was home.".

It's funny, I believe it's in these situations that you have to allow your head's logic to rule over your heart's parental instincts. A hard habit to break when you've been practicing it every minute of every day since your child was born. A new habit must form, from the first time with a baby sitter, then with each school etc. The answer of how to cope according to the article is thus:

For starters, recognize that your emotions are separate from your child's. "You have to know that what you're feeling is your own anxiety and sadness and not theirs," Raskin says. Even if your child is bawling and freaking out, you must realize two things: (1) He'll probably be fine five minutes after you leave (most kids are), and (2) the challenge of adapting to a new environment is one of those life experiences that will help him grow and develop. "If you block the separation, you end up fostering excessive dependency," Raskin says. "Remind yourself that your goal is to raise a happy, independent child." And when you break down in tears anyway in spite of all the logical reasons not to, go sit in your car and have a good cry. "It's okay to feel sad. You're grieving the loss of your baby on some level, even if that baby is 18," Raskin says. "But by the same token, you get a little piece of your life back!" Maybe you get to take an unhurried trip to the supermarket or read the newspaper — the whole newspaper — for the first time in years. "Your child's independence is a mixed blessing," Raskin says. "Find the gift that's in it for you."

Miller goes on to say:

"I'm not sure I know how to let them go. This time, there will be no school bus to bring them back to me. This time, I have to trust they will be able to find their way back to me on their own... As I swallowed, I realized, I am not scared for their futures. I am scared for mine. All of these years I've held the comfort of the familiar around me like a warm cloak to keep fear at bay and now I find myself standing at another precipice, that warm cloak slipping off my shoulders."

I have to hand it to my mum and dad. I understand how it must be extremely hard to 'let go' (dad if you're reading this, "insert joke here") and I wonder how I'll handle it when the time comes. My mother will always be my mother, my father always my father, and they will always have a level of care for me deeper than any other relationship, however, gradually as I grew up, they let go of certain aspects of the parental role, until the day came that the 'parent' relationship became more of a friendship.

They have kept me safe, provided wisdom and guidance, and watched me make 'mistakes' and deal with the consequences, never telling me what to do. The same goes for all of my choices - they might think they're a terrible idea! However they wouldn't dream of trying to talk me out of them, rather say: "That's our daughter, the crazy one!".

One area of my life in which I appreciate this the most, is my relationship with my husband. They never interfere, and most importantly, they completely understand that my husband and I come before our respective families. This, I feel, is the ultimate acceptance of 'letting go'.

I think this is where hobbies play a part in a happy, fulfilled life. I'm sure my mum would agree with me when I say that her countless hobbies where she can indulge in her creative side has kept her too busy to be sad or worried. Gardening, crochet, dog walks and beach combing are just a few of my family's shared interests.

On the other side of the coin, I do feel that my parents have "done their bit" and now it's my turn. I would never expect free babysitting or other services. Yet they and I know if there is any help required, we are here for each other.

So, I shall remind myself, everyday from now, that my goal is to raise a happy and independent child, encouraging them to be themselves and with confidence. As proud as I am to be this little lad's mum, if I can maintain Lorraine's hobbies and interests as well as being 'mum', then I think having other focuses could work out to be the key to a healthy balance. Easier said than done? Yes probably, but it's a happy goal to work towards. Plus if any worries I might have are fueled into gardening, playing music and crocheting, I'll be surrounded by gorgeous handmade blankets and cushions in a beautiful, well-maintained garden, where I can just be 'me'. Funny, that, as we have an on-going joke in my family, where I am not referred to by name, but by my relationship with others; "I know you, you're AJ's wife"... "Ah! You must be JK's daughter!"...

I've yet to hear "You're 'little lad's mother aren't you?" though...