Slowing down and motherhood… they aren’t generally two terms you could coin together. They literally oppose each other in every way. When you bring children into this world it is kind of like you sign an invisible but very real contract that you are now dedicated forever (at least for a long while) to being in the land of busy.
If you’re in the newborn stage it’s busy washing loads of bibs and yellow poo stained onsies. Rocking your baby for what seems like hours to get them to sleep, busy trying to ease their reflux or colic or god knows what else is making them scream wildly for hours. Busy reading books about what newborns can and can’t eat. Visiting friends and family and listening to everyone’s advice on how to do it ‘the right way’… and all the while trying to squeeze in some time to have a nap (haha did I say sleep?!)
For the continuing years, busy can include wrestling an unbelievably strong toddler into their car seat with steam coming out of your ears. Explaining the same concept of sharing is caring over and over until you just give in, resigning to the fact they won’t grow up to be axe murderers if they can’t share. Busy rushing from breakfast mayhem to daycare and school drop offs, leaving drink bottles and due homework sitting on the kitchen bench and once again feeling like you had a big “mummy fail” today. Busy trying to stay involved in your teen’s lives without being involved and making them feel like you’re invisible - yet you’re really there watching every single move they make…. I’m confused already.
On top of all the normal busy shit that comes along with being a parent, we tend to over indulge in the busy. Us mums seem to be sick for it. God only knows why, we are our own worst enemies when it comes to filling our world with more busy, more stress and less down time. The problem with busy is that it does not allow us to just be. It draws our focus away from the stillness within us, the place where all our dreams and desires reside. Busy doesn’t allow to step back and reflect on the hard times, it forces us to push past it all, to make it work and to just keep on going. Being busy and stressed, as the two generally go hand in hand, doesn’t allow for any kind of slowing the pace, contemplating the future and pausing, if only for a moment, to take stock on where we are at and what we need, want or desire. It literally leaves us jumping from one thing to the next, taking along with us our unresolved baggage, our apprehension of the future and our regrets from the past.
One thing I have learnt being a mother who has depression is that this just being is the one most valuable tool we can use when navigating our world of being a mum. It is the one thing that I know helps me the most, the one thing that will guarantee I am calmer, balanced, centred and a lot more reasonable. But it’s also the hardest thing to achieve when being a mum. The natural flow of daily life in being a parent really doesn’t lend to a lot of reflective moments or moments when you all just drop everything and stop. And so I am clear, being in the moment or just being doesn’t have to be a trance like meditative state – it’s about being present in whatever activity you are doing.
I always ask myself when things gets a little wild and I’m feeling disconnected from myself…
“What do I/We need in this situation right now?”
It may be that I need to skip mothers group and have a lazy morning playing with the boys at home, it may mean I need to get all our bodies out that door quick smart before my head spins exorcist style. It may mean that I need to let go of the attachment to an outcome or something and just ride the wave. It may mean I need to invite kindness towards myself.
If we can take small snippets of the day and use them as small achievable goals towards our own wellbeing, the task isn’t so daunting and insurmountable. Just one moment in each day is all it takes for you to listen and do what you truly need to do – not what you think you should be doing. When I am clear on what we all need either as a family unit or individually (never forgetting that acting upon something just for you is never a selfish act), I can then get clear in my heart and mind. If I need time for me, I promise myself that at their nap time the very first thing I do is make time for me, whatever that may be, nothing should come before it. If I need contact with human beings who don’t repeat themselves incessantly or say everything in a whining tone, then I get our team out of the house and meet up with someone… even if it’s just the local butcher!
Get clear on what you need, enforce that need and there is your moment when you were just being.
In that moment you put it all aside and listened to what you heard within yourself. If in each and every day we can try and tune into that need within us, that is ultimately what is there to sustain us and help us thrive, then we take baby steps towards creating more balance and peace. It’s definitely a challenging task to undertake when we feel that the natural odds of parenting are stacked against us. But I figure if I can navigate hysterical sibling fights with hair pulling, permanent marker down my walls, explaining what a mountain does to a curious toddler… all whilst still in my pyjamas, then I think I can achieve pretty much anything.