So today I woke up early and peeped over at Molly’s bed in the corner of our room. I am pretty sure I carried her and put her the right way up on her bed and carefully covered her with a blanket. Now, I could see a mop of hair at the foot of the bed, one leg precariously positioned off the bed and quite close to knocking a mug on the bedside table and the blanket knotted up at the top of the bed. I chuckled to myself, she’s definitely inherited my lack of grace.
I dragged myself off the bed and to the bathroom. Half an hour later as I sat on our bed listening to the sleeping sounds of my family and wondering why the sounds in the room were louder than the sounds outside. I contemplated that video I had threatened to take to prove that they were both indeed foghorns at night and woke me up constantly but I thought I’d let that go for the moment.
My thoughts drifted to my aching bones and my lack of energy to do anything really. I knew I should use this time to get in some exercise, some work or maybe even clear up the large pile of clutter to my right which I had been ignoring for a few days. Instead, my mind drifted to this year. It’s almost mid-December of a year that I cannot seem to really remember going through and living. It is a blur of a year. I’ve learnt a few things in this blur of a year and while it has had many downs it has also had many many teaching moments.
So, I thought of eight of them as I sat there:
1. Don’t be a control freak
This was a hard one to learn. I make lists. That’s how I make sense of the world around me, keep my sanity in check and more or less organise our life with the constant balls in the air. This year it has been all about making lists, striking off items in said list as they no longer exist or cannot be done that way and then starting a whole new list only to realise things have made a U-turn by the next morning.
So, I have started letting go, taking baby steps and dipping my toes in here and there on this new path. Things do not have to happen exactly how I want them to happen to work out just fine. Charlie can do homeschooling for a day and Molly still does all the worksheets and submits them on time. The world doesn’t end and we even have time to cuddle up with a book!
I can’t promise that I will be one of those people who just sails through the day without a care in the world but I will try to let some things go and focus more on what is important.
2. Plan? What’s that?
I remember learning at a workshop where they took us through the Eisenhower Matrix. The trainer said that a lot of our time at work is spent on urgent, unimportant tasks. We were asked to list tasks and look at focusing on urgent and not urgent, important tasks. So, I have tried to transfer that knowledge to how I approach things at home.
As I walk into the kitchen to make a list of grocery items and Charlie tries to derail me by trying without any luck to find the cashews right in front of his face I still focus on getting that grocery list done. He will find it eventually, I just need to use all the prepositions of place (on top of the tomato can, in-between the pasta and the baking soda, under the pack of chips) and keep resisting the urge to do it for him.
3. I cannot ever attain the perfect mom next door ideal - it doesn’t exist!
You know how we tell our kids not to give in to peer pressure. I think we need to practise what we preach for mom-pressure. This year especially I have realised that I need to make my own goals, standards and aspirations as a mom. I cannot be the perfect mom next door. But I can be the best version of myself for my kids and my family.
Instead, I decided not to feel guilty that Molly has a sandwich for lunch (which by the way I think is perfectly fine as it has vegetables, carbs and protein - tomatoes, lettuce and chicken) but my mother did not see it that way as she hung up when I gave her that explanation over the phone when she questioned my choice of lunch for Molly.
I guess the important thing I learnt is that it is ok to be me. Me as me and me as a mom. I am unique, different and have a lot to bring of myself to the table as I am sure any mom taking the time out of their crazy schedules to read this is/ does too.
4. Your kid doesn’t want you to have the cleanest house in the world, they just want a hug
This is where I go wrong most days. I have a to-do list that is a mile long. I need to tick off all the things on my work list, my house list and then when I have finished all of that, then I will have time to chill, relax and spend time with my family. My crazy voice in my head asks now, ‘how is that going for you?’ And my other crazy voice answers ‘not so good. I haven’t had a minute to myself, let alone chill and relax.’
I need to let things go more, remember point 2 above - is it important? If not, I will take some time to cuddle, make a joke or even do some non-OCD baking where I let the flour soar in the air and the cocoa powder land on the floor.
5. Enjoy the simple things in life
“Look Mummy, the beans we planted are growing! I can see them! I can see the little plants!” Molly screams excitedly and bounces up and down next to her plants which she put into pots the other day.
“Wow!” I say and I peer into them and she’s right, there they are sprouting and showing their beautiful green baby stems and leaves. I am humbled. When was the last time I took some time to enjoy the beauty of nature and revel in it? I thank goodness I have Molly to help me see these magical moments through her eyes. I grab her hands and we bounce up and down making up a “bean growing” dance.
6. What worked earlier won’t sometimes work in 2020
Schedules have changed so much but when I look back on how I dealt with this year I think I was still under the illusion that I was maintaining our regular schedule. The thing is we can’t, I know I can’t. I just can’t stretch myself up into that many parts.
Social distancing = sorry the village to raise your child(ren) is currently unavailable. Only virtual village available.
So with that, I think I have learnt to go easy on myself and let things slide. We are making things work in very unusual circumstances and there aren’t any rule books written for this. If more screen time means a sane mom, then I think that’s a win and if I decide to ignore some bad behaviour today and forego a punishment to teach consequences, I think Molly will be ok and we will still find a way to learn about consequences tomorrow when I have a little more energy.
7. Everyone is climbing their own personal mountain - remember to be kind
Some people have done and said some not so nice things. They have even gone out of their way to discredit and be mean. That’s been a bit hard when it’s been people close to me, people who I thought had my back. But 2020 has taught me to be kind. Not to be a pushover or a punching bag, just to be kind without engaging in the toxicity of it all.
So I try to stop myself when I want to rant about someone and instead think that they must be having a hard time this year too and remember to send positive vibes.
8. Stay in the present
This year has not allowed us to use the words ‘plan’ and ‘future’ with any sort of certainty. So instead of delving into the depths of the past, I have discovered the peace of staying in the present. I get to smell the roses, watch Molly make her funny faces and laugh at her adorable seven-year-old jokes.
Of course, I fall off the wagon several times. But I try to get back up and remember to stay present!
Ok, enough musings for now. I am off to shower and get ready for the day!