Saturday, 18 July 2015

Exhaustion

Exhaustion
It's something we parents know so well,
something we yearn to be free from.
Sometimes it makes us feel utterly lost
and we doubt how we can possibly continue.

Being a mother or father, it exhausts on many levels

Our patience withers, we say things we regret.
Motivation becomes so diminished that the mere act of leaving the house becomes an undertaking that defies comprehension. Getting out of ones pyjamas should surely come first.
Time - to actually do something seemingly productive - is a laughable myth. Sure, the kids are fed (just) and happy enough...but who notices?
Your sense of self can be so elusive that you wonder if you will ever encounter it again. A glimpse of yourself in a shop window reflection: you see a woman you aren't sure you would want to leave your children with.
Your sense of humour has long taken a back seat to your sense of responsibility, and even your sense of smell - a soiled nappy can be sensed moments before it actually exists.
And, of course, your energy is zapped. So exhausted can you be that you literally feel yourself waking up sporadically and hearing the voices of your children in the background. A quick assessment that all sounds relatively safe and the mind blanks itself again. You wonder how you will make it to bed time. And whether you're fit to be a parent right now.


But, there is one thing that is ever present, no matter how invisible it may seem at times. Something which, if confronted with one of your children in danger, would kick-start your tired, withered, lost, resentful self and send it furiously into action.
Love is never exhausted.
And with love, we will get through the darkest days and conquer our worst fears.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Gently parenting a strong-willed toddler...throughout the night and beyond.

Hello 6.23 am.
How are we not better friends? You'd think, having become well acquainted, we might have found some common ground by now.
As it is, I actually hung out with your not-too-distant friend 5.20am to begin with. I must say I can't see us liking each other at all any time soon.

It's that time in my cycle, you see. When the aversion sneaks back in to bite me...and my feisty 15 month old, who seems to want to nurse maybe hourly (I don't really know, I'm too tired to waste precious time checking the clock. Instead I make plans for if, when and how I might empty my aching bladder) does NOT understand this. Well, I never expected her to but still, it makes for a fraught start to the day.

5.20 am. She starts her half-sleep cries for milk. I shudder. I realise the idea of letting her even try, right now, is going to make me want to curse and punch things. I tell her the milk is finished. I offer her dummy. She angrily pushes it away. I tell her again: milk is finished, you can have your dummy. She escalates, quickly, into rigid, back-arching, red-faced, tear-and-snot-streaming screams of anger and despair. Despite my motherly, innate desire to make her feel better, I still can not bring myself to give her what she needs. My body recoils. My heart hurts.

This goes on until my husband steps in (the pre-schooler is awake now, offering suggestions) and takes her heavy, raging body into his own arms. At least I get a physical reprieve. But watching her writhe and scream still hurts me. And her toddler wails of 'Mama!' make me feel incredibly guilty, frustrated and angry all at once.

See, I love all the parenting philosophies that aim to respect and nurture your child in their every need. And, needing breast milk is such a natural need. It's nutrition, emotional comfort and more. But when your own body is having a rebellion against this supposedly simple act, things all get a bit out of whack.

My 3 year old, at this stage in her own breastfeeding journey at the same age, transitioned surprisingly easily to being night-weaned using the Dr Jay Gordon's gentle method. But the idea of doing this with our now-toddler has been given a massive reality check after the last 2 nights and our hideous experiences. I had been just willingly feeding during the night until the aversion came back. When it first hit enough to stop me feeding her, last night, I thought 'oh well, this is a chance to teach her there are other ways to get back to sleep'. Wrong.

This morning, it has been confirmed. She is not ready: no way, no how.

Trying to hold back the negative feelings in those moments is a huge undertaking. I am not entirely successful in it yet. Though, after the shock of yesterday's incident I was more prepared this morning. Instead of the more angry emotions, I resorted to tears. Well, I think that's a step up, anyway!

My dear girl. You are such a tenacious thing. Full of determination and adventure. You certainly know what you want, and that's a good thing. But, sometimes, it can be so hard to see that clearly. And, even more so when it's either the middle of the night/stupid o'clock in the morning, or, later in the day after a particularly broken night.

Yes, some people would say I need to change something; that my sleep is important, too - and I agree. I long for more sleep. But, I cannot force my daughter to endure such emotional upheaval for this reason alone. People, on the other side of things, may remind me that it is only a relatively short phase in my life. My children will be older and more independent in the blink of an eye - and I will miss their dependence. But, while I appreciate that sentiment, and try to see each day as a blessing...well, it's not realistic. I am only human! Sleep deprivation is a torture method, it can break your spirit. But you mustn't let it. Keeping your eyes on the prize is important: the future of your children. What keeps me going? Sometimes it's just my desire to be a Good Mum (whatever that is), sometimes it's the hope that, when they reach their teens, they will welcome me to sit with them in the special space of their very own bedrooms and open their hearts to me...sometimes, well, sometimes it's coffee.

Thursday, 26 February 2015

Seeing Clearly

It's been a rough few weeks. I say weeks, maybe it's longer. It is a gradual build up of all the things you have to do getting on top of you and being compounded by unforeseen events.

But, right now, I am sitting in the garden in the shade with a coffee...on...my...own.I don't remember when I last did this (excluding times the kids were asleep upstairs and my husband walking the dog). I don't remember the last time I really felt like this time was my own. I only have an hour right now. I have to pick up the eldest soon. But, my husband plans to watch them both while I go out later, too. On my own.

I have needed this, yearned for this. Solitude, reflection, quiet, choices. Selfishly becoming unselfish.

On my own
Where I can think my own thoughts
Where I can swing my arms, not constricted by pushing or carrying
On my own
Where I can choose to slow down
Where I can choose to speak, or to remain quiet and reflective
On my own
Where I can change my mind
Where I can cross empty streets diagonally, at my pace
On my own
Where I can converse freely
Where strangers do not see me as Mother, and friends see just Me
On my own
Where I can regain strength
Where I can fill myself up with whatever my spirit calls for
On my own
Where I can contemplate
Where I can remember why I give so much, every day, willingly
Where the love I have for the people who I give most to resurfaces like a gasping sea bird that was submerged for too long.


Friday, 13 February 2015

A message to Greenpeace...and the rest of the world!

Did you hear about the Nazca line fiasco? If not, basically, through one of their stunts, Greenpeace irreparably damaged ground surrounding the ancient Nazca lines.

Of course, they have publicly apologised.

There was a huge uproar about this. Which I get. I do. It's devastating, really. These sorts of places are very special, and impossible to replace.

Much like this planet.

So, while I understand the upset, I cannot stand by and accept that we just turn our backs on such organisations. For one thing; we are all human. We make mistakes. Sometimes, we make big, awful mistakes. And we can be very sorry, but being sorry doesn't always fix things. But, there is more. Greenpeace are actually fighting for this planet. And, God knows, this planet needs people on its side.

Because, you know what, if we mess this planet up...those Nazca lines, along with Stonehenge, the pyramids of Giza, and everything else besides, will be nothing. They won't even matter.

If you are upset by the damage done to something made so long ago...how do you feel about the way the very place we ALL call home is being abused?

I hope that you care, deeply. And I hope you can forgive. And, above all, I hope that you will fight, tooth and nail, for the future of our collective home; the world at our feet.


Here's a link to a website with some pretty scary information should you be feeling exceptionally brave:
Guy McPherson - warning, some would consider this extreme, but it might be the wake up call you need

And some more positive links, should you wish to take action or read about what others are doing to counteract the madness:

How crucial IS 2015?

10 months to save the world - Avaaz

Friends of the Earth

A new plan to save the planet - Avaaz

A lot on my mind

It seems that there is so much to think about right now; so much to stand up for, to protest, to shout about, to plan, to protect. And then there is the incessant nature of being a parent underpinning it all.

I had the beginning of a panic attack two mornings ago. It's been YEARS since I've had an actual panic attack. I've been stressed, sure. But, I'd forgotten the intense nature of an actual attack: when you become aware that the reason you don't feel like you're crying normally, and the reason you don't understand your own sounds, is because your body has already set the wheels in motion and you've become a passenger; at the mercy of the chemical reactions taking place inside you. Thankfully, I became aware early on. And I focused on breathing deeply, pushing aside the short bursts that were coming so easily, so rhythmically to my chest.

I guess I'm pretty run down. I knew it already. I'd been trying to tell my husband, but I guess I don't know how to do that very well. Anyway, he has his fair share of difficulties! How do you draw a line between showing that you are really at the end of your rope...and the day to day expression of things that are frustrating, annoying, tiring etc?

And what do you do about it? We have two young children. The youngest is still breast fed and fairly reliant on my proximity for the most part. My husband is the bread winner. He gets tired and broken too. In the daytime, it's often just the girls and I. And the chores, oh the chores!

How do you give to each other when you feel like you've given all you have already? Failing that, how do you stop yourselves from hurting each other more? We need to keep each other afloat in these times especially. But it's hard.

But I guess that's where love must prevail. If we didn't love, then the resentment would drown us. And, although it feels close at times, the truth is that the thought of losing my family isn't worth thinking about. So, I'm looking for ways to help myself. I know I need more time: more time to sleep, more time alone, more time to swim, more time to study things that interest me or fill me up emotionally...it feels selfish, so selfish. But I think I need all this so that I have more to give again. Some days I don't like who I am. I don't want to be tired, grumpy, snappy, unmotivated and unwashed! I want my children to experience fun, adventure, calm direction and love.

I suffered at the hands of breastfeeding aversion, and the feelings of being 'touched' out, with my first daughter (see old post) and I know that the warning signs are already here. The innocent hands of my dear children becoming irritating probes that know nothing of personal space, the anger in the night when the baby accidentally kicks me or wakes yet AGAIN, my body flinching from my children's bodies when they try to hold on to -or lean on- me one time too many.

I need this to end. Sometimes love pushes us to our limits and it feels like it tries to push us out of our minds...But that's not love doing that,v that's lack of love for ourselves.

My husband is back to work on Monday, after a couple of weeks off with an injury. We're both dreading it! So, I need to take this moment to realign my thoughts. I will not be a victim to this. I have love on my side, and inside.

By writing this publicly, I hope that I will feel more responsibility towards making this next week -and beyond- a success.

I will get to bed earlier
I will be more patient with my family
I will look for ways to fill myself up emotionally
I will find ways to alleviate tension and pain
I will look for the goodness

This is a work in progress, wish me luck.

And to anyone else feeling lost, I send you love.



Chocolate Covered Bliss Bombs!

We love bliss balls in this house. We particularly love the raw carrot cake balls (I'll find recipe to share). These are a mixture of inspiration from those as well as the delicious version we were treated to at our friends house the other day. Basically, this is merely a guide. Play about, you never know what you'll discover!

1 cup sunflower seeds, ground
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup dates, soaked
Few strips of dried papaya, soaked
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
4 tbsp/ 1/4 cup Goji berries
1tbsp ground ginger
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
Zest of 1 organic orange

For chocolate:
Coconut oil to raw cacao ratio 1:2
Raw honey to taste
Eg 1/4 cup coconut oil, 1/2 cup cacao + 1tbsp honey

Blend all ingredients thoroughly.
Roll mixture into balls.
Put in freezer & let set. They're quite firm anyway so don't need long.

Put chocolate ingredients in pan, or similar, on low-medium heat and keep stirring until smooth and shiny.

Cover balls in chocolate and put in freezer until chocolate has set.

Try not to eat them all in 5 minutes! ;)


Monday, 2 February 2015

Berry Thickie - & our newest way of eating

Since becoming a parent, my mindset hasn't necessarily changed, but my focus has. Areas of my life that I thought important have taken a back seat, and others have shot up the priority list. I've long had an interest in health - especially after spending much of my adult life wondering why I didn't feel like I thought I should and, even after a few diagnoses from doctors that explained a few things, not feeling as if I was progressing. Actually, when I got pregnant for the first time after a miscarriage a few years prior, and it had been so easy, it seemed like the first time my body was doing something right! I'm sure it's a pretty similar sort of story to many who decide to look into a fuller picture of health. But even with that behind me, and my desire to feel better, I wasn't exactly dedicated. But children can change that. You see in them such promise, such life. You love them beyond anything you could have imagined and you want to protect them, nurture them and nourish them.

My children are my motivation for so many things that I felt I should be doing anyway. I want them to be healthier and happier than I have been. And, for that, I believe a large part is played by getting good nutrition from the start.

I always felt we were doing pretty well. We've been gluten free for some time now. I am strict about it for myself as I have been shown to have antibodies to my own thyroid; an auto immune disease. There are many doctors and experts out there now who highly recommend anyone in this situation steers well clear of gluten, and possibly other foods too. One Doctor specialising in thyroid disease whose book is highly informative

I've kept my girls from having sugar (except by accident - namely the fruit smoothie in a cafe I later learned was made with ice cream, much to my dismay!) Recently, I decided to try the 8 week 'I Quit Sugar' programme by Sarah Wilson and was surprised how easy I found it.

However, around Christmas/New Year, my eldest daughter, who has for as most of her life, had very mild eczema, had a flare up like never before. To many it would still be classed as very mild, but most of her torso was dry and rough to the touch. Then, my now 10 month old, got a nasty bout of nappy rash which would NOT go and turned out to be thrush; both are signs of gut dysbiosis (imbalance of gut flora). Good gut health is key to general health. I'd not long seen the back of a long term fungal infection of my own and now all this was happening. I couldn't avoid it any longer. Something needed to change: for me and, more importantly, for my children.

So, after a few recommendations from people whose opinions value, I looked into the GAPS diet, anti Candida diet, paleo and so on. I decided that paleo made a lot of sense to me without being as full on as GAPS. But I liked some of the ideas for food that GAPS used; namely regular bone broth based soups, even though we had bone broth at times it was not regular like this. It's only been a few weeks maximum, but I'm very happy with how my nearly 3 year old, in particular, has taken to the changes. I was expecting her to be pining for our home made 'healthy' muffins and biscuits, or demanding rice...instead, quite regularly, without any prompting, I am privileged to hear the sing-song words: 'I love my soup,I love my soup!'

Our main diet currently consists of these very hearty soups, usually with sauerkraut and perhaps with some meat or avocados; fresh smoothies with berries and green, leafy stuff eg kale; lemon bliss balls; eggs; for raw fruit and veg platters; salmon or sardine patties; nuts and seeds and, now, this:

Basic Berry Thickie

1 can/400ml coconut cream
1/3 cup soaked dates
1/2 cup shredded/desiccated coconut (flakes worked too)
3-4 tbsp chia seeds
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 cup raspberries

If serving straight away, make sure chia seeds have some time to soak in coconut cream first. 10 -15 minutes

Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a blender (we use stick blender). You can add some water (perhaps the water the dates were soaked in if you'd like it as more of a drink).

Refrigerate to set, or serve as is. Would make a tasty addition to some kind of home made muesli amongst other things! Also delicious on its own, for pudding, breakfast or a snack.