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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Zen-ing Out

I am holed up in bed. It’s two in the afternoon and it feels peaceful if slightly decadent. After the dark shakiness of this week and the rather long nights talking things through with the hubble, it feels like the best place for me to be. It’s actually the only place I want to be. Safe and secure in an oasis of snuggly white warmth. It’s raining heavily and the air smells metallic and dirty - wet earth and rain, a smell I love - and its peaceful. I'm listening to this album. It's lovely.

This morning I took the cat, who seems to spend most of her time annoying the shit out of me, to the vet for her yearly jabs. I do feel for her, having a thermostat shoved up her bum at every visit, then being poked and prodded and jabbed with needles. She has a lump on her back that needs to be kept an eye on but apart from that, she’s healthy and a good weight for a big furbag. She’s happily sleeping on a huge pile of my Indian imported floor cushions like the princess and the pea. After I dropped her off at home (yes, I came all the way back to the house to drop the cat off home), I did what I always do when I’m down, I went shopping. I bought the Beanie some new PJ’s, soft and fleecy and a book called The Owl Babies, because she’s my little owl. Did I mention she can count? Yup. My two year old can tell you how many lady bugs or bees are pressed into a piece of play dough – she can do up to four. I’m pretty amazed by that I have to say. And then I took solace in my local bookshop coming home with Zen tomes (one called 'There is nothing wrong with you.' which made me chuckle) and a little book called 'Lessons of a Lakota' by Billy Mills because I have an interest in Native American everything.

I’m currently listening to The Painted Drum on audio by Louise Erdrich and it has been quite entertaining. I’ve also just picked up Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali on audio. I have read the book but I thought it would be good to have this in the car. I love listening to stuff in the car – it’s where I do most of my learning I think. I most often have Wayne Dyer with me or Louise Hay or, my favourite, Oriah Mountain Dreamer. I love her combination of spirit and honesty and her earthy yet lofty blend of Native wisdom and Buddhism. It speaks very deeply to me. She makes me feel peaceful just listening to her. Yesterday, when I was deep in the tremors, I opened ‘The Dance’ and from a chapter called Choosing a Joyful Dance, this is what I read,

‘Don’t tell me how wonderful things will be…someday,
Show me you can risk being completely at peace,
truly okay with the way things are right now in this moment, and again in the next and the next and the next…’

Are you willing to be completely at peace with how things are right now in your life? Are you willing for just one moment to let go of all your dissatisfaction, all of your suffering about how things are? Are you willing to let go of all the worry and tension in your body and simply breathe?

Am I? The thing that I struggle with (among many others) is the feeling that to accept myself as I truly am, in this moment, in this day of motherhood, is to accept something intrinsically wrong. My mothering is wrong. My discipline is wrong. My anger is wrong. How, I could ask, could one ask a murderer to accept how he is in the moment? I’m not really comparing myself to a murderer but I think that it’s somehow flawed to ask of myself, feeling as I do about motherhood, to simply accept that this is how it is. How I am. I don’t want to accept that this is how I am. I don’t want to be this. I want to be something different. Something better. How do I come to a place of acceptance about something which feels wrong in my heart? That is what I am struggling with today. I want to sit with my discomfort but I don’t. I chew over the fact that I fail every day to be the mother I wish to be, the mother my daughter deserves. I know that she chose me and on some level what I offer her is necessary for her journey, as well as mine, but I also believe that my desperate desire to do better, to be better, is also part of this journey.

When I look at my anxious, frustrated, impatient type of mothering, I am struck by how much like my mother I am. I grew up nurtured by a woman who would rather walk for 5 miles than wait 10 minutes for a bus. She pushed me, like a real stage mother, to win, to be better than every other person I could be pitted against, especially if it was in an area that she believed I would do well in, or an area where she herself wished she could have played. I was a smart and capable kid. I could do anything pretty well. I was adaptable and gifted in many areas (though not maths!) and so I did pretty well all round. This led to many difficult and stressful times for me, all brought about through my mother’s love for me and her desire for me to do well. I understand now that this was perhaps not the way to handle things but she didn’t know any different. She was motivated by many things, guilt and fear among them. She was by nature, a highly stressed individual, probably from living through the war and evacuation and poverty and then with my violent father for 26 years. I know that living with him would put anyone under severe stress and so its not really surprising that I have inherited, from pregnancy probably, the same traits of anxiousness and fear. I was born into fear and have lived most of my life with its shadow snapping closely at my heels. It’s not that it stops me from doing most things – it doesn’t. I am both fearful and stubborn. But I suspect that it stops me from doing many things that I don’t realize. Probably because I am unable to truly let myself break apart. Like last night. I cried but could not let go, not truly. I was worried that I would wake my baby girl. I hate crying. I both felt and wanted to break through the door that separates me from my true emotions and could not. I pulled back because it seemed less painful to remain where I am than to push through into that empty darkness that waits for me in the room beyond. I couldn’t move through that doorway because I don’t honestly know how to. How do you let yourself break apart? How do you give yourself over to the sorrow – to anything without holding just a little of yourself back?

And so today, I meander quietly through my life, seeking for something that will make sense of my experiences. Something that will give me hope. A book I picked up today is called, ‘That Which You Are Seeking is Causing You to Seek.’ I liked the title. The author, Cheri Huber, is a teacher of Zen. The explanation on the back of the books says, “What we are looking for is causing us to look. That’s why we need not go anywhere, do anything, learn more, figure anything out or worry about going wrong. We need only to stop, sit down, be still and pay attention.’ Easier said than done for this restless, mangled spirit. But I will try.

I will try.

May your caravan be filled with the music of silence.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

These Little Earthquakes

I am here because I don’t know where else to be. Today was a Bad Day. The anger was so close to the surface, the frustration and the impatience all mixed with an incredible lack of grace. A resentment that yet again my time, my space, my soul are all sacrificed to the good of the child. I feel greedy and grasping and want only to escape the (seemingly fraudulent) needs of my demanding little girl. Add to this the many and continuous frustrations with the internet, its temperamental speeds and connection issues which anger me instantly because they have gone on for so long. The strangeness of my new Mac has also fed the furies today. I am such a novice and have no skill with it and that too has been a source of frustration. And don’t even get me started on the reasons why it won’t upload any of my photos or even show most of the pages properly. I am at a loss to explain any of it.

And so, like the earth tremors we have been experiencing recently, these little earthquakes shake me once again. My angry outbursts are, as always, quickly followed by remorse and a gnawing, aching guilt. Today the tears got the better of me. I never know whether to hide my tears from my daughter lest she grow up thinking that she needs to parent her flaky, neurotic mother or whether its ok to let a child know that you are sad and that its ok to cry when you are sad. In the end I went for the latter and explained that mummy was sad but not because of her. She was soothing and empathetic, as only she can be and eventually after much “It’s orrite mummy,” and “You thad?” she suggested that we ‘hold hands’. Well that nearly ended me. Smiling through the tears I suggested that this would be a good remedy for nearly all of my ills and that she suggest it next time mummy goes off on one.

Sadly this wonderful, warm and touching moment was soon followed by more anger, more tears and more frustration as my curious little muppet refused to do as she was bidden, refused to listen and became increasingly difficult to handle.

I stood at the sink entirely enveloped in a feeling of hopelessness and cried. I do not allow myself to cry often, I don’t know why. Perhaps it is because I am embarrassed to be so often this overwhelmed, to feel so powerless to change, to improve what is becoming an intolerable situation for me. The endless conflicts with my two year old cause me great pain at the moment. Mainly because I seem incapable of finding some better way to deal with them. To deal with myself. I cried because it seems that no matter how often I ask for help, it is never given or at least not in a way that I can understand and which is therefore as good as invisible to me. My fear of damaging her tender spirit is a daily shroud. I am terrified that there will come a point when her eyes will dull and she will simply stop reaching out to her emotionally unstable mother and give up, withdraw and leave me heartbroken and bereft. And yet I can see no other outcome if this situation continues. I don’t know what to do. And I can very clearly see that I need to do something to shift things.

I had hoped that the St John’s Wort would help me level out enough to find a clear space to stand in and walk forward from. It appears that this is not to be. Maybe what ails me is not curable by external means. I feel increasingly fragile and unsure of myself. I have never hated myself before. I have hated aspects of my life and my experiences, but never myself. Never like this. I hate myself as a mother and I try not to because I know that the cure does not lie in the misery and the doubt, but in hope of a change. I know too that without focusing on the positives in the situation, I will never truly break free of this horrible emotional and mental affliction that seems to have welded itself to my skin and to my heart. This is not me. At least, I hope to God that it is not me. I am so unhappy. I find myself cursing my life and though I know that it is born of frustration, it does not mean that it is not how I feel on some level. I have counted my blessings, I am more than aware of how much I have to be grateful for and yet there are days when sinking into the ground and disappearing are all I wish for. How can I deserve to be the mother of this beautiful child? Why can I not see a way forward? I am not stupid. I don’t even know how to talk about everything that I feel because I feel that I am letting down those people who rely on me to get my shit together. I am embarrassed to be this down, this incapable of self-mastery and this miserable when all around me is real suffering, real misery. It doesn’t feel right somehow to cry when I have so little to really cry about. I have just finished reading a book called Sorrow Mountain about a Tibetan Warrior Nun who suffered so much at the hands of the Chinese. Next to that, what are my little struggles, my minor sufferings?

I am going to miss the best years of her life if I can’t get myself out of this rut. I know it. And I fear it greatly. Why should she suffer because of me?

I thought about calling friends to talk but didn’t. Most of my friends have more than enough on their plate without me adding to their load. I don’t want to tax anyone else’s adrenals. A friend actually interrupted my crying earlier but I am no good at reaching out. She called at the wrong (right?) time but I felt incapable of talking. What else can I say anyway? What can I say that I have not already expressed a thousand times and more? I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to write about it in my own blog for fear of boring the shit out of you yet again with the same old same old. I did because at the end of the day, it is where I am and I cannot move on without accepting that. It’s my day off tomorrow and apart from a trip to the vets with the cat, I am alone. I know that I will miss her as I always do when we are apart, fearing that we will be forever parted because I do not deserve her and that my last memories of her will be these. I know it sounds stupid but it happens every time. Every time something good comes into my life, I feel as if I am waiting for it to be taken away again. She is the best thing to come out of my life and the most ferociously challenging. I tear myself apart as I try to come to terms with a life so altered, so drastically and forever changed by her. I try to let go and accept and become that which I am now that I have her. But I cannot. I am stretched between my own need to create something of my life, to achieve, to live my music and not die with it still in me and my own inner knowing that she is something wonderful that my life has created and that maybe I should give up any other dreams and accept that. Maybe there is simply a time for mothering unencumbered by loftier missions. Maybe there is only today and today and today and looking into the future simply brings misery. So why then is my spirit still restlessly searching for something intangible, something that hangs just out of reach but releases its perfume into the air every time I walk by it? Why am I so tantalized and so unfulfilled?

I don’t have any answers. I don’t even know where to look for answers. Or maybe I’m simply not asking the right questions. Who the fuck knows.

So I wait for the earth to steady beneath me once again. I wait for the tremors to stop and the earthquakes to subside. I wait for that gentle touch of grace that can take me home again. Home to myself. Pray that it happens soon.

May your caravan be pitched on solid ground.
May all beings be at peace.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

On Visits & Strange Offers

*Photo from here.

While my daughter enjoys a little one-on-one time with Charlie & Lola, I thought I'd pop in here to have a quick catch-up. I know, it's a bit naughty, but she's happy and I'm getting some 'me' time. There was precious little of that last night as our little visitor gave me a mere 20 minutes of sleep before joining us in bed and wrestling her way all over me for the next 4 hours before I got up. Tired doesn't even begin to cover it.

Anyway, the real reason why I'm here, is to share with you the delightful news that the PND Fairy is visiting again. Well apparently, she never actually left. This revelation is however not as dark and woeful as it may sound. My visit to the naturopath yesterday was surprisingly helpful despite the rather depressing prognosis and I have been given at least a little useful information on ridding myself of my most unwelcome visitor. It's sort of ironic that I went along for some advice on dealing with some long standing health issues and to talk about preparing the way for another baby and ended up being diagnosed as still suffering from Post Natal Depression caused by the first little ankle-biters arrival. I wasn't diagnosed with PND until Lily was 16-months old and a lovely friend suggested, quite gently and with much love, that my struggles with motherhood might be due to me suffering from post-natal depression and recommended that I read 'The Masks of Motherhood' by Sarah Maushart. I did and I found it very helpful but I honestly believed that the worst was behind me and that I was out of the thick of it. How did I not pick up that something this obvious was wrong? And not just me, the maternal health nurses, the doctors, the people who were supposedly supporting me after childbirth? I guess there are such subtle degrees of it, it can be tricky to detect. I mean, I filled out all the forms that are supposed to detect PND sufferers. Are you crying uncontrollably - no; Are you overwhelmed and unable to cope - no; Are you having thoughts of harm to yourself or your child - definitely no. So why would I think that I had PND? I was coping. Yes, I was emotional and slightly overwhelmed, but so are a lot of new mothers and I had so much more support than many others. Of course, I also set the bar so high for my mothering that I could not help but fall short in my efforts, so that didn't help.

* My idea of the PND Fairy. Image from here.

So fast forward to now. I'm sitting in my naturopath's office talking about health issues and pregnancy and getting a bit emotional, as I do when someone gives me the opportunity to talk about stuff that I normally keep so well compressed in my psyche, when buggar me if she doesn't drop the PND bombshell on me again. She states, with a great deal of surety, that I have, in fact, been continuing to live with and trying to raise a child through, some more undiagnosed PND. Great. Just. Great.

Actually, it was rather great. You see, the diagnosis of PND means that I am not the entirely crap mother that I often feel myself to be. No. I am actually suffering from an acute form of anxiety which presents as hypervigilance and an over-reactive response to any form of stress. As she said, it should really be called Post Natal Anxiety because that's what it really is. And let me tell you, life with a toddler can be very stressful. Hence, the Shouty Banshee is in fact simply a mother coping with PND. I feel sort of vindicated. A bit. I mean as I've said before, it doesn't give me carte blanche to be a crap mother but it does at least enable me to see how some of the difficulties of the past two and half years could be attributed to this undiagnosed and therefore undealt with condition. I have been trudging under the weight of so much weariness, mental sluggishness and a real lack of enthusiasm for life and mothering. And it has been harder than I ever could have imagined despite the end result being so beautiful and radiant a spirit as my Beanie.

And so, I am now taking copious amounts of St John's Wort to help get my emotions under control, am on a new low GI diet to help keep my blood sugar stable and thus handle the endocrine system imbalance I suffer from and am under strict instruction to do 45 minutes of exercise daily in order to lose a few kilos. My naturopath also told me that if I didn't feel better in two weeks, to call her as she would be frankly shocked if I didn't feel much improved in that time. So - the baby-making is on hold temporarily - we don't want to go into all the hormonal upheaval of another pregnancy when I'm still hormonally upheaved from the last one! - and we are working towards a calmer, more emotionally stable Kitty. Bring it on, I say!

I also enjoyed a much more enjoyable visit yesterday and a welcome squidgy shoulder to cry on. The delicious sol-y-luna came a'callin' and we hatched up numerous plans for our newly formed (with gorgeous DocWitchy) Cackle Club. Much mischief and red wine guzzling will no doubt ensue. Lovely sol-y - what a great couple of days we had. We laughed our asses off during a spot of fat burning belly dancing with bollywood moves thrown in for good measure. We talked about things past, present and future and we shared a good few glasses of red. We even went outside and serenaded the beautiful Lady Luna, who was in full and beautious flight across the blackberry blue and star-studded night sky. It was dee-lightful. And the best part is, I get to do it all over again on Saturday with the added bonus of Doc. Yes, the first official meeting of the Cackle Club is happening this Saturday and, hold on to your hats, it includes a Pyjama Party. Whoo hooo! I cannot wait for a whole day and night with my girls. We are planning on visiting the wonderful Stitches & Craft Show at the Melbourne Show Grounds, during the day but apparently, Sol-y and Doc have some surprises up their sleeves for lil old me. Hopefully it doesn't involve me, naked in a classroom, without my homework. I'm sure it will be 'moste excellent' as Doc would say.

Talking of strange offers - I have, oddly enough, been approached by The State Library of Victoria because they are 'committed to preserving electronic publications of lasting cultural value' and they felt that my blog would offer a valuable addition to their collection. In particular they are interested in my blogs regarding the recent bush fires. I am frankly a bit stunned to have been chosen by anybody as a good example of anything (unless the 'Whinge and Waffle' Society is offering me their much coveted 'Whingeffler of the Year' Award) but I'm also obviously quite flatered that they think my blog worthy of preserving. I'm going to say yes, obviously, because its nice to think that something I have written may be of value to someone else, but also because its simply so lovely to be asked. Hopefully, this doesn't turn out to be some giant mistake/misunderstanding/punk'd experience. But because I'm kinda paranoid, I will just say here, in BIG LETTERS and for the absolute record that THE CONTENT OF THIS BLOG remains MY copywrited property and may not be used for defending the planet from Evil (or anything) without my WRITTEN CONSENT. Yes, my ego really is that fragile people.

Picture from here.

So - PND Fairy - Begone Foul Hag. Begone I say!

Until next time, may your caravan be peaceful and (evil) fairy free.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Small Beautiful Choices

My new teacups. Red 'n' spotty because I am suddenly very drawn to rich fun colours like red, yellow and orange for my kitchen. They make me smile every morning.

My very special teacup. Buttercup yellow and gold. I bought special teacups for all of my very special friends this Christmas. I wanted beauty to be the first thring that greeted them in the morning.

The first fruits of our passionfruit vine which grows abundantly (despite the drought and recent hot weather) on the outside of our veggie garden. I was so excited to see these I actually squealed prompting my daughter to ask, "What was that noise mummy?"

Beanie and our second (I will not ever, never eat a) tomato. We have absolutely loads of them ripening on the vines. I'm guessing I'll be knee deep in chutney and passatta come April. Now if I only knew how to make chutney and passatta I'd be laughing.

* Autumn Crow

Well, Autumn has well and truly arrived for us in the hills. We went from a stagnant, hot and sticky summer to the full blown wet and cold of Autumn in one day. Guess that's Melbourne for you. Monday had us off the mountain and taking comfort in the air conditioned goodness of the in-laws house and Monday night had us soaked to our skin trying to remove our 'fire danger' sand bags from our spouting as we enjoyed a torrential downpour for several hours. As I waded in ankledeep water in our sunrooms, I reminded myself that I have been praying for just such rain for the past month. We have had since had the heating on every day and the jumpers, tights and boots have all been dug out. The weather sure doesn't muck about in this hemisphere.

I for one am very glad of the change. I have so longed for autumn that it feels almost too good to be true that its finally here. It's my favourite and my best. I love the cold dark nights and the cold dark mornings and rugging up in furry blankies and drinking hot choccy in front of the coonara stove. I love the mist and the chill and the green. It's just so divine and peaceful. I'm sure I'm not the only one in this area that has breathed a sigh of relief with the onset of the more wintery weather. With the horror of the fires fresh in our psyches, there will now be time for people to being the slow process of rebuilding their houses and their hearts knowing they have at least got nine months grace before the weather causes concern again. I think for the first time I have fully realised that this is what people up here live with year after year. I guess its the price for enjoying the beauty and the peace for the rest of the time. I certainly won't be taking it for granted any time soon.

Anyway I'm off to snuggle up under a blanky and watch a dramatisation of the Roman Empire called, unsurprisingly, Rome! Love those recreations of ancient civilisation.

Until next time, may your caravan be warm and cosy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Idealism, Motherhood and Being a Rooster

Well. As often happens when I am gnawing on a particularly meaty problem, wisdom pops up and bites me on the ass whilst I'm driving. In this case, the biter was the lovely Wayne Dyer, of whom I am a big fan. I know he's not everyone's cuppa but I like him because he's very Zen about everything. Being present is so not a skill I possess yet and I therefore admire it greatly in others. Like my darling hubble.

Anyway, as also often happens, I digress. So there I was - daughter sleeping gently in the car seat, on my way home with a Mocca and a sarnie, when it hits me (a realisation, not a car), I have been idealising motherhood. (Was that a resounding 'Duh!' I hear?). This is an interesting revelation because for a lot of my life I saw only the drudgery of motherhood. My mum was a slave to a demanding, violent bully of a husband and four kids and she had to try and fit a job in around all this chaos. Not my idea of happiness I have to say. Not many people's I would think. So the sudden realisation that I had idealised motherhood to the extent that I was now driving myself completely insane with trying to achieve impossible dreams, was nothing short of shocking. Yet it makes sense of so many things that I've had trouble understanding recently.

Firstly - I don't idealise ALL motherhood - just the type of motherhood in which i believe. Hence the ability to both loathe it (because of the drudgery and demands) and idealise it (because of what is possible) at the same time. It's not that on an intellectual level I honestly think that motherhood is all roses, kittens and sunny days spent cooing at a smiling, impossibly good natured baby. I don't. I'm nuts but I'm not that nuts. It's more that I have this idea of myself as a mother and I am falling miserably short of it. This ideal can do all of the things that I have often talked about on this blog. She can cook wonderful nurturing wholefoods for her family, she can play for hours without boredom or a stiff gin, she can raise a happy, well- adjusted little camper without Ritalin and she can make stuff by hand. Well, that's all fine and dandy but it's not me. At least, not right now.

Idealism is one of those strange things. It seems like a good idea at the time, to imagine a wonderful, better future for ourselves (and it is - but within certain parameters). But it is also a constant source of frustration and misery because we put off everything waiting for those idealised 'magical moments'. It doesn't matter if it's a new job, a promotion, achieving a certain level of financial security, a new house, a bigger car, a family, a relationship or whatever, if you are always waiting to reach that goal then you are simply not 'living' now. You are quietly existing and waiting for that moment to arrive and THEN you can be happy, be content, be relaxed. It never comes. I'll repeat that in big letters for emphasis, IT NEVER COMES. There is no magical day when everything will be better, there are just more days like today. The trick is to make the absolute best of these days, in the here and now, living them fully even if not always happily. Otherwise, you are stuck in a constant cycle of Idealism followed by Frustration/Anger (as you fail to meet your own ideals), followed by Depression/Inertia (as in, 'what's the frigging point anyway') followed by Apathy ('I give up!') followed by a new idea of what is right, what will makes things all better again, which leads to Idealism again and so on...

A beautiful and wise woman wrote me an email in response to my last posts and she said basically the same thing to me. I know. It takes me a while to 'realise' things as opposed to understanding them intellectually. She reminded me that who I am is enough. Even when it feels like anything but. Even when I'm crazy and resentful and bored and disinterested and reluctant. Even though I am the very definition of a messy mother (psychologically at least), it's still ok that this is who I am. And, more to the point, it's ok that this is who I am for Lily. On some level she chose me precisely because I would make a hack of these early years, (more or less), and she would get to learn about anger and how to make rude suggestions to motorists who drive up one's bottom on swervy bendy roads. That is who I am. I'm a mess sometimes. I'm a control freak at others, (which is interesting because I have been gifted with the world's grubbiest little girl. I kid you not, there are boys who are more fastidious about their clothing and person than my little grubnut - Ah, the letting go. The letting go.).

This wonderful woman, who has so often been an inspiration to me because she is such a kind and gentle and amazing mother, reminded me that I don't have to be something else. If I can't nurture, if I can't play, if I am angry sometimes and wildly happy at others, if I'm inappropriately humorous, it's all the same. I am the mother I am and that has to be enough. Has to be because to try to squeeze myself into even my own wide definitions of motherhood, is to try and fit myself into a shape that is not my own. Of course, I can want to be better. I can want to find better avenues for my aggression and my anger. I can want to nurture and to play. But it's ok if I don't. Maybe, despite my beliefs to the contrary, what my daughter needs from me is not excessive amounts of play-time or country soups, but the drama, the poetry, the love of literature of reading and dance and magic and imagination. That I can give to her in spades. I can give her an opportunity to be herself only if I am truly myself around her. Myself around everyone. It doesn't give me cart blanche to be a crap mother but it does give me room to make mistakes and not give myself blunt force trauma when I fuck up. Which I will.

It reminds me, strangely, of my primary school nativity. I was a pretty precocious little kid (I was the kid who wrote and staged and acted in a play at the age of 10. You know, the annoying one) and i was good at two things English and Acting. I longed for the part of Mary in the nativity - not because she was cool but because she was the LEAD. I so wanted that part. Anyway, I didn't get it. Nope. I didn't even get to be one of the Angels or the Shepherds or anything. No. I got to be...The Rooster. Yes, I know. It's like that moment in 'Love Actually' when Emma Thompsons' (love her SO much), daughter proudly reveals that she is the 'Second Lobster' in her school nativity and Emma incredulously replies, 'There were TWO lobsters at the birth of Baby Jesus?'. Well, yes. I was the Rooster whose gift to Baby Jesus was not to crow on his first morning and wake him up. However, I did get to sing a song which, from memory, had the lines 'Cockadoodle do' repeated a lot. My mum made me a stunning jumper full of crepe paper feathers and I donned my red tights and sang with all my heart. And I stole the show. Everybody remembered my part. Partly because it was so bloody ridiculous and partly because I was doing what I do best - being me. Annoying, precocious and pretty bloody interesting for the most part.

And so, this well warm groove slides around me again. It's not the first time I have realised this little message, but it is the first time that I have gotten it so fully. I expect I will be back here again. Wisdom is a bit like an onion, it has many layers and as you peel back each one it is likely to make you cry. There are evidently levels of understanding about the same situations, the same processes, that we come back to again and again until they are fully realised and we are healed of the need to tread that little groove again. We then move on to the next and the next. Is there a place of no groove? Possibly. (I think its called 'middle-aged white people dancing - particularly men'). But I'm don't think I'm anywhere near ready to go there yet. In fact, I think I'm like that Goldfish that Billy Connolly sings about, going 'Round and round and round. And round. And round.'

So this is where I'm at right now. Not bouncing off the walls with happiness but not drowning in a pool of my own anxiety either. I'm sort of quiet, if that's possible for me. And listening. And learning to be okay with the accepting and the not accepting, the struggle and the ease. I expect that it will take me quite some time to really stop the striving to be something different, to let go of the idea of perfection in motherhood. More importantly, it will take time to let go of the idea that if I am less than perfect my daughter can still turn out to be a strong, confident and amazing woman. I mean, half of my friends had less than perfect starts in life and have continued to have interesting dynamics within their families and they are some of the most amazing women I've ever met. I'm proud to know them.

And I expect it will take me longer still to really understand who and what I am as a mother. In the meantime, I guess I'll just stay here until something moves me in a different direction. Sitting with the 'what is' instead of trying to get to the 'what may be'.

This is me, signing out.

Cockadoodle Doo!

"There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one” Jill Churchill