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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Nourish Me:: Week Ten:: Putting Myself First

I found this beautiful artwork here
I've been thinking about this post for a while now. I had lots of different nourishing things I wanted to talk about and to share with you. I have been busy doing all sorts of things and thought I could write about some of those but then I realised that I had been putting this subject off. *Sigh*

It's really hard for me to write about attachment parenting without coming up against all of my wants and needs and hopes and dreams for my children. It's hard for me to contemplate letting some of my hopes go but it's harder still to be here struggling, as I so often do, to do the right thing, but ever at my own expense. Does that sound selfish? Then I'll explain.

Right now, I am sitting in my bed at home choking my way through my fifth bout of bronchitis since last Winter. I have asthma so bad that I can't take an in or an out breath without rattling which leads to more coughing, coughing so hard it makes me gag. Coughing so hard I can't sleep. And so finally, at my husband's insistence, I started taking the cortisone that I have resisted taking in all the other episodes I've enjoyed. I started taking the damn cortisone because antibiotics were having no effect. I started taking them even though it meant abruptly interrupting my breastfeeding relationship with my wee Bear. It was not an easy decision to make but I hope that it was the right one.

The house is empty. As in, without the balls of funny, furiously active and beloved energy that are my babes. It is empty because I am worn out, completely run down (despite vitamin supplements and immunity tonics up the yin yang) and struggling to look after my babes with no voice (literally - I have laryngitis too), no energy and no patience . So my ever practical husband called in the reinforcements and his parents stepped up (as they always do - I am amazingly lucky to have the second family that I do) and the wee ones were whisked away to stay with his mum and dad for three, yes THREE, days. So that I can sleep, rest, get well, stop spreading these godawful germs around and find health, if it indeed still resides in this house of lurgy.

My little Finnamon Bun
The children and I have been consistently sick for a year now - since Finn was 2 weeks old and he got his first cold, followed swiftly by his first chest infection and his first dose of antibiotics. As each cold/infection/chesty episode went, within a week a new one was arriving. The children and I have spent more time at the doctors this year than I have at any other time in my life. I even joked to my GP that I should just camp out in his waiting room. Har bloody har.

So the house is empty and it feels... well barren actually. Devoid of life and energy. I can feel how alone I am in this big house that is normally so warm and full of them. I miss them terribly, particularly my wee bear because I keep feeling like he is so small and must not understand what is going on. Part of it is, of course, my ever present anxiety/PND/neuroses, but the other part is the loss of my connection to my babies. No little greedy face smiling up at me between drinks from his beloved boobie. No needs having to be met. No-one trotting in in the night for 'a quick snuggle' before being tucked back into her own bed. No sleepy, pink-cheeked, grumpy little face surrounded by fluffy bedhair, crying softly with eyes still closed, for cuddles, comfort and a return to sleep. Nothing. Just me and my man (even though that is always comforting) and the quiet of an empty house. And in the night I dreamt that I could hear Beanie calling out for me. "Mamma, mamma, no - I want mamma." I woke thinking that she was in the next room and was then stricken because I realised she was far away and I could not comfort her. Could not fold my tousled, long limbed, thumb-sucking, still so young, Beanie, into my arms and give her a mamma's sleepy late night kisses that let her know all is well. All is well.

Yes, she is asleep.
This is why I struggle. I struggle with the need to sometimes put myself and my needs first without feeling horrible guilt. I struggle with being with my kids and being without them. I struggle with wanting needing space and time and rest, and feeling resentful when I don't get it, the need to be there for my children when they need me to. Something has to give, doesn't it? And I've come to the, somewhat obvious, conclusion that it just doesn't always work out the way you want it to. Someone occasionally has to lose, if only for a little while, and up until now that has been me. I have consistently put myself second and have dragged myself through the days bone weary and tired beyond belief. I have done it when I have wanted to and when I would have given anything to be in a galaxy far, far away. And it has taken it's toll on me mentally and physically.

And this is where I find attachment parenting a little unyielding (and I am prepared to admit that the unyielding part may be just my interpretation of its ethos. I do set my own parenting bar very high). The co-sleeping I love right up until the part where I can't turn over because I have about a square inch of bed to myself and nowhere to put my arms, or I'm getting kicked in the back or boobs, or hit in the face by small arms and legs. Or, God forbid, there is a delicious warm sensation underneath me which suddenly and inexplicably goes cold and wet. The breastfeeding I love except where I get bitten and pinched and where I worry that I am going to affect Bear's health long term by giving him boobie milk tainted, no matter how minimally, with anti-depressants or the fact that he needs to stay attached to the boobie long, long, long after he has fallen asleep and immediately wakes up if I try to disconnect him. The carrying I love (and do a lot of ) right up to the part where my scoliosis plays up and the hip displacement joins in, just for funsies. The gentle discipline I love right up until the part where I want to tear my hair out and scream because trying to get my girl to do ANYTHING without a major meltdown is seemingly impossible, to the point where even my hubble is losing his cool and this man is second only to the Dalai Lama in terms of being peace. I love it all right up until the part where I am worn out, run down and in need of sleep and rest and peace.

Photo by eikei
Don't get me wrong. I don't intend to give any of these things up entirely. I love carrying the wee man for the most part. I love having him in bed with me and have done up until recently when I realised how much I missed being able to stretch out and not worry about accidentally walloping the wee man in the head. I sleep so lightly that its become almost impossible to have the bubs in the bed for any length of time. And you know, I want to be able to put him down in his cot and have fall into a much needed sleep, without me having to stand over him for 45 minutes. And I've noticed something interesting about this. Sometimes he'll be in my bed and restless, grizzling and turning over and over, so I scoop him up, pop him down in his cot and he goes straight to sleep. Perhaps even he needs a little space to himself now.

I guess what I'm trying to say, and what it has taken me over 4.5 years to learn, is that I have to take what works for me and leave the rest. Even if that does make me feel like a 'fake' attachment parent (and honestly, what parent isn't attached to their child?). I have to accept that in order to give them the best of me, I need to put myself and my needs first when I can. Mamma needs her body, her mind, her sleep, to herself sometimes. I need to trust that I am enough even in those areas I fail seemingly every day. Who gets it totally right? Even attachment parents who do everything by the book get things wrong. We are fallible human beings and it has taken me a lot of time and sadness to realise this. I won't be the 'perfect' mamma no matter how hard I try. I can only be me - a woman who stumbles and falls all the time, but still gets back up and tries again, tries harder. I have spent a lot of time wanting to be other people. It's probably why I studied acting. Yet, comparing myself to others never made me feel any better about being myself. It just gave me a whole other box of reasons to dislike myself and to question hate myself as a parent. I do want to get my issues under control. Of course i do. But I want to do without beating myself up all the time. I DO hold myself accountable. I DO take responsibility for myself and my actions but I don't need to exacerbate the problem with unkindness and a lack of compassion for myself. In some ways, I am still a child too. I need to put aside the fear based thoughts of what will become of my children in the future because what I have 'done to them' in the past, and trust, really trust, that their innate goodness, their own unique light, will shine no matter what. And that loving them, as deeply and as overwhelmingly as I do, will be enough. That I will be enough.

So my nest is empty and I am trying to drop into this new space and take care of myself without my thoughts consistently swinging towards my Beanie and Bear, wondering how they are, if they want to come home, if they are needing me... and concentrate on getting well. I'm not used to it. Normally I relish my time alone simply because it is so fleeting. Now I have three days of it and I don't know what to do with myself. My hubble insists that I sleep. He has told me, in no uncertain terms, that 'resting is not the same as sleeping'. I guess he doesn't get how restful crafting is for me but he's also got a point. Sleep is the one thing that has been consistently missing from my life for 4.5 years. Nourishing, deep, deep, restorative, dreamless sleep. Is that possible for me I wonder? I am so attuned to my babies sleep rhythms that I suspect that this kind of sleep may still elude me.

In my immediate future I forsee lots of expressing (not quite ready to give up feeding the wee boy yet, just while I am on nasty cortisone), knitting, sewing, napping, eating maltesers, reading, napping, watching movies, napping and then some of the aforementioned sleep.

I will leave with my sweet nourishy bites because everyone needs something cheerful at the end of a long rant.

:: watching :: Game of Thrones. If you haven't, you must. MUST.

:: loving :: crafts, crafts, crafts. Oh I have discovered dry needle felting and I cannot be stopped! Show and tell next post.

:: longing for:: this illness to be gone and to feel truly well again. Punching the air and leaping into the air kind of well.

:: looking forward to :: being rid of the old man 60-a-day phlegmy smokers cough, to finishing Finn's sheepy pants and starting on my 'Tea Leaves' cardigans for me and the Beanster (thanks DocWitchy!). Oh and starting on a little project for my lovely lady Sol-Y-Luna - she of the big heart and healing hands. She gave me a massage and now I am giving her something soft and warm and knitted, just for her own self.
:: heading towards :: adventure. Maine being the focus of that adventure. We are seriously looking into moving to Maine for a few years, just so that I can enjoy some snow and some time in the Northern Hemisphere, where everything makes sense to this northern girl again.
:: enjoying :: the cold, the mist, the bare trees, the occasional hail, the spare simplicity of Winter in the southern hemisphere. Audio books - fiction mainly because I have overdosed on non-fiction in recent years. It feels good to just sit back and enjoy a different kind of yarn (often with my yarn!). My creativity being stimulated by the lovely Goddess Leonie's e-courses and Goddess circle group. Don't be put off by the hippy look of the site, the woman is sharp as a tack and gives an amazing package for those creative ladies who want to delve further into their creativity or start up a new business. There is even a Goddess Circle which gives you access to support from other women and a chance to make connections. It's awesomeness. Chai, mocca lattes, Kate Bush and her wonderful album The Hounds of Love. Now that's winter in an album. The link takes you to my absolute favourite track from the album. Listen to it and you'll understand why I love it so much.

::making:: more wool roving summer fairies but this time with embellishments (piccies to come), sewing little birds for summer swaps, winter things for winter swaps and the beginnings of a daily rhythm chart for Lily, so she has some idea of what is happening next. It makes our days more peaceful if we have our path illuminated somewhat.

:: surprising myself ::  not at all.
:: feeling :: weak and tired but at least I'm resting.
:: hoping for :: good health, energy and some time with good friends.
:: grateful for :: my supportive hubble and his amazing family.
And I've added a new nourishy bite - 
:: just for funsies :: Funniest video on YouTube - I'm afraid that this is why people of the pagan persuasion are not often taken seriously. And where are they running to?


sarah said...

Wonderful post. I so hope you feel better soon.

The Awakened Heart said...

I should just be clear here. I'm not taking the piss out of pagans, just these particular ones in the video. I'm good with all people of the pagan persuasion and we each have our own path to the Divine. It's more that the general populace think that all witchy poos and pagans look like this. We don't. Enjoy the vid.

anna said...

What a lovely, honest post. (And btw you don't sound like the sort of person who would really take the piss out of anyone!) Its lovely to read someone's reflections on life as it is really lived, not pretend-perfect-blog-life. I hope you're all feeling much better soon though. Delighted to have discovered your blog :)

Earthenwitch said...

Could have written most or all of this post at some point in the last three years myself, and am hoping that this time around I'll remember these words, and not feel guilty about stopping it coming to this pass before it, er, comes. Er.

Illness and tiredness and AP methods are a really, really tricky mix, aren't they? I too find that bar impossibly high sometimes, and I think the thing that I'm still trying to get to grips with is the ultimate AP get-out: if it's not working for you, something's out of balance. I always just think that I Should Do Better. Clearly this is not so. Let us embrace better sleep and less crappy health and a large cup of chocolate chai while we're at it!

Hope the cortisone helps.

Anonymous said...

I am thinking of you and wishing you health! I feel like you write for me in so many ways. I've been so far gone for so long that I can't even write about my experiences. I just finished reading an amazing book (Dispatches from a Not-So-Perfect Life). As I was reading it I thought...I must purchase copies and send them to you and Witchypoo. Of course, I think you're getting it all sorted out very well on your own.

"I need to put aside the fear based thoughts of what will become of my children in the future because what I have 'done to them' in the past, and trust, really trust, that their innate goodness, their own unique light, will shine no matter what. And that loving them, as deeply and as overwhelmingly as I do, will be enough. That I will be enough."

Blessed Be.

Anonymous said...

Oh and Maine?!? That would be heavenly. It's the only spot in the U.S. I could imagine living besides here. I do hope it works out!!

Retired Knitter said...

I was drawn to your post by your name "The Awakened Heart" ... while visiting another blog. And I stumbled on this post ... oh how I can relate. My kids are all grown but I am now the caretaker for another "child" ... my aging mother and so many of the things you talked about sounded just like my life.

I also noticed you are a knitter. And have frequented Ravalry.

And althought I live in Maryland ... my favorite state in the Union is Maine - and Alaska rates pretty high as well.

Sometime the blogs you just "stumble" across are the best. I'll be visiting.

Retired Knitter

MJ said...

I have been wanting to write a comment on your perfect kiss post then came back and found this one. What I loved about your words is the depth, the anguish, and the honesty, I can feel it, and my heart goes out to you as you find balance. I think every good mama, no--amazing mama loses themselves in their children at one point or another, and for those that can't find their way back, something happens to shake them and wake them back up. Thus is a another spurt of growth in our own journieys. I will be thinking of you and sending warm healing thoughts your way. Much love and luck to you mama!!

Tania said...

And isn't this parenting gig just the trickiest there is? Makes you walk into that room of mirrors and watch yourself stumble and fall flat on your face and get up again and do better before falling straight on your bum. Rest, Mama. Sleep too. And cut yourself some much-needed slack. The best mamas parent the way that works best for them.

PS. Yep, a Steiner school/kinder winter festival. But you are banned from any of this malarkey this year. You have a cough to be rid of!

embracingitall said...

Get better so we can catch up. I think we have heaps in common!! Will tell you why when we get those girls of ours together for a play. If I wasn't going away for this week, I'd drop over a meal. Stay warm. Jacinta

laura (warmthandlight) said...

Hey darlin,
you are a wonder. No one can doubt the mammoth quantities of effort and heart you pour into your mothering. Brightest blessings for finding the balance, health and nourishing sleep you seek. I'm busily picturing you jumping and punching the air, all radiant and happy.

Love the sound of a certain creative project just for moi. Yippee!! xx