6 Things I’ve Learned About Motherhood

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#6. The laundry.

Oh, the laundry! If you’re just starting your family, invest in the best & largest washer/dryer set your budget allows. Stock up on your favourite brand of stain remover and be prepared to rewash a load which has been sitting in the washer for a few days or wear wrinkled clothes that never quite made it to the hanger because life.

#5. Your Calendar will never be your own again.

Play dates, birthday parties, dentist, doctor, eye doctor, practices, rehearsals, games, recitals. Curriculum nights. Due dates. Is it library or gym day today? Book orders, fundraisers, spirit days, food drives. Pizza orders, milk orders, lunch pails orders because making lunches is the bane of my existence (I wonder if that should be it’s own category?)

#4. You will shop incessantly, except not for yourself.

Because growing bodies need new clothes for every bloody season. Shoes can’t be so big they’re a danger to everyone or so small they’re outgrown in a month. You must analyze weather patterns, predictions for how cold or warm fall/winter or spring/summer will be and then say “f*%! it!” and buy whatever they’ll wear anyway because who has time for arguments about clothes in the morning. Regardless if you go thrift, mall, online, discount stores…you will shop. For them. (And don’t even get me started on gear for sports which need to be purchased months in advanced because by the time the sport is in season, every store everywhere will have every size available except the one which fits your child).

#3. The hostile take-over of your home.

Everywhere you turn there will be evidence of the people you created. And, I don’t mean the play pen, high chair, bouncy chair kind of take over because you decide where those actually go. I mean the toys. The toys! In every corner. And you may swear you will never spoil your child with toys, but everyone else will. And, of course, you will too. Regardless of how many times you sing the damn clean up song, or swear to throw it all away each time your foot is impaled by a sharp object in the middle of the night, or create a game or rewards chart or simply threaten the entire household…the toys will take over your home. (Add to that every single piece of paper they scribble on at school; the problem exponentially grows before your very eyes).

#2. The energy it all takes.

Motherhood is a continuous ebbing and needling and prodding for attention. Everyone needs something. So it’s important to put your energy where it matters.

Weaning them off needing you takes work, too: “You can pour your own cup of milk” “Try the step stool” “Did you check the dishwasher?” “The milk may have been pushed to the back of the fridge” “There’s more paper towels in the storage room downstairs”.

One thing to remember is that every battle doesn’t need to be fought: yes, you may wear a t-shirt and shorts to school on the first cold day of autumn because the cold will get you into warmer clothes faster than I ever can.

Everyone needs something. All the time. And while daddy is sitting right next to them, willing to address their needs, mommy is always the first resource. Even on the good days, the energy required to mother two children, maintain a home and a career is almost miraculous. Never mind this ambitious endeavour of writing on the side.

#1. Self-Care is paramount.

I always loved going to the gym and having “me” time…who doesn’t? I didn’t realize that it would become vital to my very survival. Making time for myself is the only way to keep from breaking down. I do that by (in)consistent yoga practice, (not so) daily meditation and writing, sprinkled with a few outings with dear friends when I can get away. I can feel my entire being rebelling when I haven’t spent the time on my mat, at my keyboard or chatting away with someone I love who is not a part of my family. It’s easy to be swept up in the feeling of being needed by your family, of being indispensable to them…but one day, they will be their own independent people (because that’s the goal, right?) and I want to still have something that’s mine, that can’t be taken away when they’re continuing their journey without my everyday care & guidance.

I think I could write on this topic forever because with motherhood the learning curve has been steep…and, oh so worth it. After all, I wouldn’t be the woman I am without my two and I have to admit, I kinda like her.

Any lessons you’ve learned you’d care to impart? How do you self-care in order to keep going?

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Get Messy, Be Unmessable #YogaLessons

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Hearing the words “get messy”, followed closely by “be unmessable” when I started practicing yoga made the English teacher in me raise a brow…oxymoron much?

Get messy.  It implies disorder, inefficiency, chaos. Everything which makes me cringe. I like order, calendars, ticking off boxes. Getting messy wasn’t what I was about. Little did I know, it was exactly what I needed.

It wasn’t until I embraced Get Messy and allowed myself to Get Messy did I see just how Unmessy it made me.

The freedom to allow myself to try, to learn to recognize fear of falling and failing (something I still struggle with on and off my mat), to look like a complete fool because the pose is completely wrong brings with it the promise of peace. Of quiet. Of telling every outer and especially inner critic to gth because I’ve got this.

Getting messy helped me tap into my confidence, my sense of certainty that regardless of how messy life can get or I get as I navigate it, I am okay. And, therefore, I can be unmessable.

When I accepted a position as a Guidance Counsellor, an area of teaching I had tried so many times to get into, I almost talked myself out of it because of the visibility of the position within my school. I was afraid that my mistakes would be known by all. I might have to do presentations to staff (something I find terrifying…yes, I’m a teacher…I know). I could make a decision which others would disagree with or an oversight could affect a student’s academic pathway. My reasons were endless. But, I also knew I couldn’t let the opportunity to learn something new, to stretch myself as a teacher pass me by. Well, I made (and am still making) mistakes. I asked (and keep asking) a lot of questions. I presented to staff and a group of parents…and, I survived. I gave myself room to be messy and in the process became un-mesa-ble. (see what I did there?)

Yoga practice offers insight about who I am and how I live my life almost every time I hit my mat. The nuggets of understanding are invaluable. But, this one…becoming messy and un-mesa-ble at the same time has enabled me to bring to fruition my biggest dream: to author a novel.

After two years of assessing my life on and off my mat, I can confidently advise anyone who is feeling off course, to get messy and become unmessable. Fearlessly embrace who you are, what you want to do, and then don’t let anyone stop you from doing it…especially, yourself.

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Writing Time

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I am not a best-selling author.  I am a mother of two.  I am a wife.  I am an English teacher. And, I am also a writer.  I love writing.  I love blogging and lately I have had to literally scrape together minutes of writing.  I have had to carve and beg and steal time to put pen to paper (fingers to keyboard).

I can’t be ruthless about protecting writing days – because in my world a day devoted to writing is a fantasy.  But I can be ruthless about protecting those precious twenty minutes I told myself I would use to write.

Writing is my happy place.  It nourishes my soul and revives me.  It gives me a little bit of space where I can be me.  I do something that is just for me without the tug of all the people in my life who incessantly need a piece of me.

It is my selfish, unapologetic, self-indulgent time.  And I wouldn’t be able to survive without it.

I keep this quote by Rowling within reach everyday because it helps to remind me how important writing is to me and it is something I will not compromise on.

I’d love to hear how you remind yourself to do the things you love – regardless of the struggle it may create.

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Wednesday Quotables: Writing

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This week’s quotables are about my passion – writing. I love to write. I write personal essays and short stories and I have written two manuscripts.  I may choose to self publish one day, since the traditional way isn’t exactly working out for me, but that’s alright because regardless, I will never stop writing.

europeanpaper.com

My inner life is normally bursting. I must unleash it onto a page – any page (or screen) at any given moment.

pedalsandpencils.com

Need inspiration? Pay attention to your life and it will offer all the inspiration you need.

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“Make the best of your talent” I love that line! If we are privileged with talent or an ability in any area, we owe it to ourselves to fully explore and develop it.

rebeccasbook.blogspot.com

Enough said.

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This is a tough one for me, but oh so true. When you let go…the words that flow from your fingertips are unbelievable…you never know what’s inside you to write until you just write.

prowritingaid.com

Um, see above quote.

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A bit excessive, but I understand the sentiment. Writing can be tortuous but when done with abandon it leaves you exhilarated and empty. You must refill and spill it out all over again.

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What are you passionate about? What do you love to do that is woven into your soul?

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Spring Cleaning

It’s April 8th and I woke up to wet snow.  My backyard, which was a swampy mess yesterday, was once again adorned this morning by a layer of icy white. Not the pretty fluffy powder that warms my heart in December. The heavy, wet, chunky clumps that tighten my chest because it’s April 8th. Yesterday, I had the windows open and cool air refreshed my home as I thought of spring and not far behind…spring cleaning. Bright sunny days make me want to make my house shine. The grey days of winter mask the dust that rests on the baseboards and cloak the piles in bottomless closets. The instant the clouds give way to the sun and rays of light pour in through the windows there are spotlights on every single crevice that needs tidying, purging and a good scrub.

from beautifulhomesandgardens.ca

I have to blink several times to adjust to the light and then I simply must move.

Spring cleaning goes beyond the building in which my family and I live. I also pay attention to the body I inhabit. There is an energy inside me that has been building up all winter (in addition to the few extra pounds from all the chocolate I’ve consumed) and I must unleash it.

So it is generally in the spring that I take up one of my favourite forms of exercise. I run. I am not a runner – I do not measure my run by distance. I do not even run continuously during the 20-30 minutes I am outside. I will jog, walk, sprint and run. My heart pounds in my chest, my lungs hurt, my legs scream and I love it. I do not stop. It is normally when I am running that I do my best thinking. I purge every negative emotion that crept into my soul during the long, dark winter. I remember that life is wonderful. I give thanks for the beauty of my life and for my ability to move. I feel the sweat cleansing my body of the dust I have accumulated over a long winter.

In my mind, this is me:

from motionshoelab.com

This is probably more what I look like:

from mynextrace.com

Once I’m back inside I proceed with another favourite, yoga. I love yoga. It’s a lovely way to settle my aching muscles down after a good run. I close my eyes, breathe deeply and smile as I abandon myself into each pose (until my son decides he absolutely needs me urgently, like right now mommy because if he doesn’t get that toy on the top shelf he might pass out from boredom because he has no other toys in the house). Now, back to breathing….

Where envision myself doing yoga because my mat is normally sandwiched between the couch and coffee table and I’m surrounded by toys:

from womenshealth.com

The last part of my spring cleaning routine is to reacquaint myself with my journal. I’m sporadic in pretty much everything I do. I dive into every project with passion and find myself consumed by it, until I get bored or lose the energy to persevere or find another endeavour that enraptures me. And, so is my relationship with my journal. I look back at the journals I’ve accumulated over the years and all of them have huge chunks of time missing. It’s like I disappear for months (a few times for years!) at a time and then I dive back into journalling trying to make up for lost time. In any case, while I’ve been more consistent with journalling of late, it’s still something that calls to me more in the spring.

I’ve enjoyed enough springs to know that my home will always have corners that need a mop, my body will always carry an extra 5-10 pounds and my journal will always have gaps in time. I am also fully aware that the strange energy I feel is simply nature’s way of waking me up after a long (long) sleepy winter and that this energy will surely lead into the lovely, hazy, lazy lull of summer’s heat. Nonetheless, I will enjoy every second of polishing my home, pushing my body to its limits and my pen across the page. It’s how I shake off winter and welcome spring into my life.

What are your spring cleaning rituals?

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