Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Finding Mummy


 So, Hannah started school a few weeks ago and I wrote this post almost immediately, but I have been trying to decide whether to go live with it or not.  It's not my usual sort of post, and I don't want to be someone who comes across as having it all worked out, 'cause I definitely DO NOT.  I also know this is not new or earth-shattering, but is just where I am at, and I think lots of fellow Mums might relate, and maybe some of you can help shed some light for me along the way ... so here goes ....

Whilst Hannah has been ready for school since pretty much the day she was born, and whilst I've always known that her beginning school would mean I could manage a little more paid work and therefore enjoy a tiny bit more financial freedom for our family, this transition has hit me harder than I expected.  Even though I haven't had any full days at home or anything yet (it's been pretty busy with work actually), I've felt lost and lonely, teary and uninspired and just generally out of whack.  The house is quiet ... REALLY quiet during the day.   But, it's not because I've lost my baby (though I do wish she'd stop growing up so quickly).  I think it's because I've lost ... me!


For the past 9 years I have been known predominantly as "Mummy".  This is my favourite pic of Bethany as a newborn on the day we brought her home.  Oh my, that hair!!  Anyway, since that day  I've had a little buddy following me around the house most days, and when I have been at work or they have been at pre-school/school, I've been rushing around getting all those things done that you can't do with a little shadow following you.  I haven't been just "Wen" for a really long time.  And I think I'm not sure who "Wen" is anymore.

Now, I'm pretty sure I'm not depressed or anything (before anyone starts to worry) and I have the most beautiful husband who listens to my woes and is always supportive and truly my best friend.  But I'm definitely needing to self-analyse these feelings and work through them, and I can absolutely see how sometimes Mums can get to the point of feeling out-of-touch with themselves, and letting that spiral into something more serious like depression or anxiety. And after doing some soul-searching, reflection, prayer and just acknowledging how I'm feeling, I've come to the conclusion that: 

I WANT TO EMBRACE EVERY ERA.

I don't want to push these current feelings down and overload my life with stuff, work, TV, new responsibilities, and anything else that will help me avoid these feelings, while moving ahead meaninglessly.  I want to LIVE my life, and that means making the most of every era, moving forward into new and different eras with gusto and trying to enjoy each moment as it comes, rather than mourning those precious moments that are now in the past, but will remain as precious memories forever.

Now, obviously, I'm still a Mum, and boy do those 6 hours of school go by quickly each day.  You just have to look at my kitchen currently and the dinner pots and pans piled high!  I'm still going to be "Mummy" more often than I am "Wen", and I love that.  Being a Mum and raising these girls has been and still is such an amazing gift, and has honestly been the most fun-filled, meaningful,  heart-wrenching, hair-pulling, life-shaping thing I've ever done.  I just think it's time to balance out the Mum vs Wen in me a bit.  And I think it's important for my girls to see me being me.  I am a person with needs and wants and feelings in the same way that I spend so much of every day making sure that their needs, wants and feelings are cared for.

So, what to do?  Well, I've decided that I'm just going to slow down a little for this first little bit, and just stroll along for a while.  I'm not going to sign-up to do all the extra things to fill my time just yet.  I need to navigate for a bit so that I can make some strategic decisions, and these are the first ones I've made:

I'm going to make sure I do something for my health and well-being ... for me.  Early last year I actually started running (people who know me are having a great giggle now!) early in the mornings before anyone else was up, and I loved it.  It came to an abrupt end when I had some health issues mid-year, and I've found it hard to drag myself out of bed since then.  But the other day I came home from dropping the girls to school, and realised I had a whole 90 minutes ... alone ... before I needed to be out at some meetings.  I grabbed my shoes, and I walked .... ALONE!  As I walked, I thought about how I was feeling and what I wanted and needed.  I reflected, I prayed, I pondered and I walked all of those feelings onto the footpath behind me ... alone.  And boy did that make a difference!  I came home so clear-of-mind.  I had spent quality time in my own thoughts, and getting the blood pumping at the same time.   This is going to become a regular thing for me after school drop-off, or whenever I have a spare chunk of time.  Not because I HAVE to out of some kind of fitness guilt, but because time in my own headspace, in the fresh air, with God, and with some physical exercise is something that will help me make the most of every day.  

I'm going to make regular time to be with my Saviour.  I'm a Christian, and while I don't often go around shouting that fact (that's just not my style), it's unashamedly who I am.  Now, Mums with little kids can understand that it's hard enough to find a chance to go to the bathroom alone, let alone find some uninterrupted time alone with God.  My "quiet-times" with God have really suffered while I've had little kids at home.  I know God gets it, and He gets that we all just do the best we can, and I know He doesn't want us living out of a place of guilt.  But I also know that without those regular God-times, my growth in Him and in being the person He wants me to be has slowed.  It's time to ramp that back up, and listen more closely to how He wants me to live out each era of my life.

I'm also going to work on building more friendships.  I have had lots of people in my life over the past 9 years of mum-hood ... from church to playgroup to pre-school to school to work and all the friends and family in between.  Some really fantastic and precious friends.  But I know that my nature tends to be a "helping" nature, and I find that so often the people I'm drawn to, and the ones who are drawn to me are those that are in need in some way, whether that be practical or emotional needs.  I also work in a "helping" occupation.  I'm not fighting that part of my God-given gifting, and I think I will always be a "helper".  I also feel privileged that I am someone that people tend to trust when they're in need, but I'm noticing that sometimes those that need the most help and support are also those who can't reciprocate it.  I believe healthy two-way relationships are so important in getting the most out of this life for ourselves and for those around us, and while I'll always be there for anyone who needs me, I also want to make sure I have support when I need it too.  I think it's time to find some balance.  Now, I'm terrible at asking for help.   I'm not becoming a "taker", but I am going to be more real and vulnerable with those who I trust, and hopefully make more friendships as I see opportunities for real openness and love.  This is not an easy thing for me as I'm also a total introvert, and making friends and being vulnerable is exhausting for me.  So I will gain strength from exercising and spending time with my God, and I will get there.

And of course, I'm going to make some regular time for doing something I love.  Sewing, crocheting, or craft in general is something that is good for my soul.  Just the other day, we had gotten to the end of a very busy day, the girls were playing (nicely) in the bath, and I had 10 minutes where I appliqu├ęd some decorative letters onto some new bath towels for them.  And that 10 minutes of creative outlet just gave me some extra bounce and energy to finish the day well.  I'm going to spend some of the time the girls are at school doing some craft ... and I'm not going to feel guilty that I created something instead of vacuuming the floor.  What did I say about balance?!!  And hopefully as part of that there will be some more regular posts here of fun craftiness, and maybe also some details of those other things this Mummy is Up To.

Anyway, this has been a very different post to any I've done before, but also one I really had on my heart to write.  I'll try to update you as I go along, as I think writing for me is also a good way to clarify and analyse my emotions.  I wonder if there are any other Mums out there who are grappling with any of the same emotions as me?  If so, I'd love to hear from you, and to hear what strategies you've put in place.  Or if you're a Mum who is ahead of me .... how did you make it through this stage, and find yourself again?

Anyway thanks for reading this LOOOOONG post, and Im looking forward to some more fun crafty posts very soon!