Archives for the month of: February, 2013

 

 

It’s no wonder that women were considered witches and were up at witching hour through the ages. It’s the only peaceful time of a day. There are no phone calls, no jobs. It’s so peaceful and quiet, with absolutely no demands from anyone. It’s 5 am and I’ve been up for the last hour. I’ve crept through the house made some lemon tea and written my morning notes. (Read Julia Cameron’s ‘The Artists Way’ for more details about morning notes.) I haven’t been up at this hour wide awake and unable to sleep since my pregnancy. Obviously Baby Prince No. 4 has woken me up on countless of nights, but I always went back to sleep. There’s something different about being the cause of your own sleeplessness.

I must acknowledge, that my sleeplessness points to my restless, unhappy spirit at the moment. It was a rough day yesterday. The Princes finished school early, and I had a lovely time with them until I let them go swimming. I love pool fun. I spent most of my childhood in the pool, so I was surprised when I was so rattled by them in the pool. I was scared for them as they began fighting. Even as I type this I feel myself stop breathing. There is nothing worse than boys fighting in the pool. They had friends over and their friends were lovely. It was the stupid sibling fighting over a dolphin floaty. I now know I should have just marched in and taken away the dolphin, easy to say after the fact. Instead I threatened them with time out from the pool. This didn’t stop them. This frayed my nerves and I began to shout, which for me is the downward spiral into self loathing, which makes me more angry and hence shout more, as they, being children, refuse to listen to me.

At that moment I hated myself. I hated being a mother, and as much as I love my children, wished I wasn’t their mother. It made me realise that I wish I could just have fun with them without all the responsibility. How many other mothers feel this way? I wanted to run away and hand them back to their real mother. I would be happy being their aunt, or friend. I love them passionately but I was dead tired.
Tired of mothering, tired of homework, tired of running around to therapies, swimming, judo, cricket, teacher’s meetings, doctors and the never-ending shopping to fill my fridges and cupboards. And here in the wee hours of the morning listening to the birds chirping as they welcome the first rays of sun that lightens the sky from black to a light early morning grey, I still feel it. It would be far easier to have a full-time job, where I didn’t have to discipline anyone, or worry that anyone was going to kill each other, or beg, pleading on my hands and knees for the Princes to do their homework. I feel there’s something completely awry in my life, and I feel it’s not all me and it’s not all the Princes.

I think we’ve forgotten something in our parenting, in our education system and in our lives in Western society. It’s called the soul. Even though my kids go to a religious Jewish school and I also did, somehow it doesn’t teach about the soul. It’s something that has to come from the home, I know. But you’d kind of expect it to come across in normative Judaism. But it doesn’t. Sure it’s spoken about, and I saw some lovely thoughts written in my Prince’s book about the Neshama – soul. But it doesn’t touch such an ethereal part of ourselves. Something that can’t be seen or explained, that bit of God that we all carry in us, whether we understand it or believe it, we can’t help that part of us. It’s there. When we feed it and connect to it, there is light in our face and our lives, when we don’t a part of us dies.

 

The soul loves creativity, loves engaging with the world, loves adventure. Alot of these ideas I get from Julia Cameron’s books. She’s a creative expert and believes in soul expression. Whenever I feel melancholy and depressed at being a mother, feeling stuck I turn to her books. Even to read just a chapter. It always makes me feel better. Puts my life into perspective. Helps me realise where I”m going wrong. Here’s what she says about the soul and adventure in her book ‘Walking in this World’.

 

‘The soul thrives on adventure. Deprived of adventure, our optimism fails us. Adventure is a nutrient, not a frivolity. When we ignore our need for adventure, we ignore our very nature. Often we do exactly that, calling it “adulthood” or “discipline”. When we are too adult and too disciplined, our impish, childlike innovator yearns to rebel. Too often rebellion takes the form of a stubborn, self-involved crankiness rather than an exuberant and expansive risk. Risks we tell ourselves are too risky. When we avoid risk we court depression.’

I find this validating. It makes me feel better at five in the morning. It helps to know I’m not alone in my feelings. It gives me hope that I can change, have more faith, have more fun, and make my every day schedule more fun and magical with the small things.

We are definitely the pill generation. I think a lot of women are on anti depressants. I think a lot of mothers are unhappy. Not all the time, just sometimes, like when our kids are fighting in the swimming pool. Which is one of the reasons I blog about Mothers Rights. We have a right to create the lives we want, put the joy and creativity we crave into the every day.

I’m not thinking of self-destructive risks or adventure, like leaving small children to go to India and find yourself. (Okay if the thought has crossed my mind, I’m certainly not actioning it.) It’s small risks, doing things differently. It’s small moments that make all the difference.

What I should have focused on in the middle of the night was how wonderful it was that I made slush with the Princes yesterday, rather than yelled at them at the pool. It was an experiment which was fun, yummy and full of laughs. It was healthy. It was  just Appletiser and ice blended together. Last post I wrote about changing perspective. I still have a long way to go…

As I finish writing this the sky is now a pale blue with the soft morning light and full of birds song. I’m an optimist by nature, a morning person who believes that here’s another day, another chance for moments of joy and fulfillment. To try get off the treadmill of everydayness, and find the soul moments of today.

This blog post has been written already. Written and lost into the black hole of cyberspace thanks to yet another Eskom blackout. (This time it wasn’t cable theft. It was because they were butchering the street’s trees.) I loved the post, it was perfect and so I cried. Full, copious two-year old tears. And it made me think of all the times the Prince’s cried because their beautiful Lego creations or block towers were broken by one of their princely siblings and how I told them, ‘Don’t worry it’s terrible it’s broken, but you built it, so you can build it again.’ Looking back with my loss, I shudder at the inadequacy of my response. The lack of empathy, of being in their world of hurt and loss, and just wordlessly holding them as I would have liked to be held that fateful morning. Once held we can dry our tears of loss and get back on the writing seat, the building blocks floor and get on with it.

The experience of loss further challenged exactly what I was writing about in the post that I lost – PERSPECTIVE. In the big scheme of things losing a blog post is really not a big deal. There are other mornings to write, there is tomorrow, even when at times it feels that there is no tomorrow. Even when I’m struggling with sleep deprivation and every moment spent writing feels sacred. But sometimes I don’t remember this, sometimes I do lose my head and go into my drama queen hysterics.

Especially now that school is in full swinging swing swing. Leaving me catching my breath and crawling into bed at the end of the day exhausted. I hate feeling tired and pap, like a cloud hanging over me that I’m only half aware of. It makes me grumpy and moody, it makes me unhappy, which is a terrible thing because I love my life. I have a very blessed life. And with all the terrible, awful, nightmarish happenings of last week I am that much more aware of how I should be bouncing out of bed, singing ‘What a beautiful morning.’ Not blearily grabbing a toothbrush and brushing as if my life depended on it for a full five minutes trying to wake up. I really feel the more I hear the bad, the more I have a duty to feel good, appreciate my life and the lives of everyone I’m blessed to be surrounded by.

So it’s my mission to rev up the energy levels and appreciate what I have and here are my findings on how to do it:

1. Go for a Medical Checkup

This is the first step to dispersing foggy brain thinking. Because having low energy may not be you, it may be a physical imbalance that’s causing the unexplainable heavy lows and mood swings. I’m not one to really share my private medical history, especially not on a public blog (believe it or not I’m an incredibly private, quite shy person), but this is for the public good, hence the public blog.

Last year I had a lump in my throat, which I tried to ignore for a month or so, but couldn’t ignore anymore. With my heart in my shaking toes I went for a sonar. Every horrible thought of what it could be traversed my mind like a poisonous Redback spider bite. So when it ended up being Post Partum thyroiditis I breathed a sigh of relief.

Not that thyroiditis is something to be sniffed at, but as my endocrinologist said,  it’s very treatable. And once an under active thyroid is treated, mood swings, weight gain and general tiredness disappear. Now here’s the thing, one in eight women suffer from thyroid imbalance, wether hypo (under active) or hyper (overactive). I was once advised that every woman should get her hormones checked once a year. It’s good advice, and it could make all the difference to energy levels and mood swings.

2. Increase your Fun Loving Time

One of the things I’ve learnt from ‘The Happiness Project’ by Gretchen Ruben, is that when you give energy to what you love and have fun with, you increase your energy. This is hard to believe, however it really works. This week for example I had an awful night, chasing baby Prince No. 4 all over my bed, as he refused to settle down and sleep. I woke up feeling like I’d spent the night driving a heavy 4×4 with nonstop lifts. My plan that morning was to go to yoga, the last thing I felt like doing. I went, and at the end of the class I felt like someone had given me a full night’s sleep. I had boundless energy for the morning. It doesn’t make sense, but it’s a truism. When you do what you love you increase your energy. So here’s to more writing, more  playing, more baking, and more drawing for me. And taking more fun breaks in between work.

3. Rest

Sleep, sleep, sleep is the only cure for tiredness at the end of the day. Even if you do fun things that invigorate you, the lack of sleep will eventually catch up. This week I did something I don’t usually like to do. I lay down one afternoon for an hour and said, ‘Sorry I’m going to rest now. Please don’ t disturb.’ And the Princes didn’t disturb. (Even though they should have, as Prince No. 1 sliced his finger open with his pocket knife.) Because of that sleep, I was able to deal with power hour without slaying my Princes. I find it impossible to self regulate when I’m tired. I find myself shouting and snapping away like a dragon. So even if it’s a twenty-minute power nap or lying with your feet up. It’s really worth it, for the sake of the children, if not for yourself. (We mothers really have an issue with taking it easy. If there’s five minutes free, we search for that one other job we can squeeze in. Don’t do that, rest.)

4. Change Your Perspective

This is perhaps the biggest game changer for me. I tend to whinge and whine, a habit I haven’t broken since childhood. It’s not something I’m proud of, but when something bothers me I can’t help but moan. That negative energy really sucks my energy levels, as I focus on what’s wrong, and what I resent rather than accepting what is and getting on with it with a positive, light attitude.

I had a big wake up call, when I went out for lunch with a dear friend of mine. I began complaining about a certain thing that bothered me. She turned to me and said, ‘You know you really need to change your perspective.’ She then went on to outline how I was looking at the situation negatively and she painted it in the new, brighter colours of judging favourably. And she was a hundred percent right. You see she had spent the last year battling cancer with exhausting bouts of chemo. She had the right life perspective of what mattered.

I said to her, ‘You’ve changed. You’ve become softer.’ ‘No I haven’t,’ she replied. ‘I’ve become harder.’ ‘No,’ I said, ‘You want harmony and peace. You have no time for crap.’ She agreed. Her eyes which had always been sparkly, were brighter than ever. She had no time for crap. No time for anything that distracted her from life, and it’s beauty and all the simple, good things it had to offer.

Terminal illness does this. Tragedy in a community, like the passing of Sean Lipschitz does this. It’s a reminder to reconfigure our lives in ways that abound in gratitude, joy and light. To use our time on this earth for good. Not stuck in bitter and twisted thoughts (like how I hate having to do homework every night) that distracts us from our bountiful blessings. Everyone should have a friend like mine. Changing perspective is everything.