Monthly Archives: July 2011

Day Off

Standard

Sometimes the best thing for my own and my family’s personal peace is a day off.

Of course, the day is never completely “off”, but it can be filled with more leisurely pursuits and time to unwind and stretch out and enjoy being. Though these things can be integrated into a regular day, a bit of time devoted strictly to them is also good!

So we slept in until 8 (thank you baby!). I made pancakes for breakfast. We did some cleaning (in a leisurely fashion!) and then had a shopping trip to Jysk – just one store, just a few items, and helping a neighbour buy a new bed. Then home to baby play & nap, lunch (yum – salad with fried sandwiches on fresh bread) and a couple episodes of Drop Dead Diva which we both fortunately enjoy. Hanging laundry – so nice to have the laundry room nearly operational and not have smelly diapers around! – and more relaxing. Tomorrow is back to renos and prep for work for me but today is a good break.

Lengthening Moments

Standard

Letting myself relax and enjoy moments is not something I am always good at I don’t think I fully realized this until today. Sometimes I have no other things to think about, I have time and I let myself enjoy what I’m doing. Usually, I have a lot of things I want to get done – more than I have time for – and so I rush through otherwise enjoyable tasks because they need doing and something else awaits, or I (heaven forbid!) multitask, thus not wringing any real pleasure from any of what I do, aside from the satisfaction of completion.

As I made my way through today with my little girl I happened on a few moments where I consciously slowed down to get more from what I was experiencing. I realized also that this enabled me to give more in those moments. Again, back to the breath: breathing and letting myself settle in and experience with full engagement is a choice that reaps multiple rewards.

It was another hot day of renovations here and I was at loose ends as to how to fill my time. Bearing in mind earlier lessons I decided to walk to City Park with Baby. I gave myself permission to take my time and enjoy ourselves. We got something to drink (I had an iced chocolate; she had some mama’s milk). We looked at neat coats at a new store and made new friends. We settled in by the water park. We played in the water park. And I let her take her time and decide what to play with rather than rushing her out after a few minutes. Why is it so hard just to relax and enjoy splashing in water in the summer with my girl?

Then we sat on the grass and made more friends. Baby is a smiler, a screamer, and as of today, a waver. She waved intermittently to a breast feeding mom a few blankets over, who would smile and wave back. Amazing to see her realize this form of communication! She would point at birds and plans overhead, at interesting people walking by. She smiled and talked and played with the young girl at the neighbouring blanket. By the end of at least an hour sitting there I felt that I could say good-bye to these people I’d met through my daughter. It was a joy to slow down and be there on a gorgeous summer day at the end of my maternity leave. What better way could I have spent my day?

Back at home later tonight I was continuing to walk around with her, this time under the dining room table. By this point in the evening I’m usually burnt out with playing. I want to read, or write, or watch TV, or cook, or something else. Tonight for some reason my perspective shifted for a moment. I realized that these moments with my daughter are precious, fleeting and to be experienced, not rushed through. It is so obvious it’s almost embarrassing to write, but this is one of the basic truths I’m hoping to reinforce through this year of writing and reflection. I slowed down and was able to enjoy playing with her for the rest of the evening.

These last posts have all seemed like variations on a simple theme: slow down and experience the moment. Simple but profound for me.

Small Victory

Standard

It’s a hot, sticky day here. After a long delay summer has arrived. I find I’m not as heat tolerant as I was as a youth! Regardless, it’s a real treat to have sun and heat and I hope it helps our garden grow.

Today I achieved a small personal peace victory: mind over mind. I left the house after lunch because with all the renos and people moving about it’s really not a great place to spend time with a mobile baby. We went first to the library, then to sit in a park (she napped for a while), then met up with a friend and walked some more. After almost 3 hours out it was time to come home. It was hot. I was sweating. Baby was tired. The whining started. So I picked her up and carried her. Good, but not good enough. We were ten minutes from home, and I figured out that she was hungry. And I had to go to the bathroom badly. Two competing priorities: stop and feed her and risk wetting myself, or rush home with a hot (overheated??) fussing baby.

This is where I could have become upset, resentful, angry, sad, any number of negative emotions based on feeling sorry for myself in this OH SO DIFFICULT situation. Instead I realized that this was an opportunity to practice what I would like to preach: your mind chooses your interpretation of a situation, so choose one that conduces to peace.

I pulled out a bottle from the diaper bag, and fortunately it was warm enough for her to take it (she fusses and won’t drink if it’s too hot or too cold). Then, carrying her on my front in the Ergo, I pushed the loaded stroller with one hand, held the bottle with the other while also holding her sunhat on her head with two fingers to keep her eyes shaded and walked through the sun back home to the bathroom. And again, I didn’t get upset at this slightly awkward manoeuvering; I reminded myself that it was almost funny, and that these are the incidents that make you a mother. She calmed down, I calmed down, we got home without incident and there is nothing else to tell.

Funny how undramatic it can be to not get upset over little things!

 

Tired

Standard

I wanted to title this “exhausted”  but realized that I’m not there yet. But I am tired after some frequent night wake-ups, bottle needs (sometimes night nursing is enough – not the last 2 nights) and up later than usual. But I know other people are tireder. I’ve met a couple moms recently who each have 5 children. I cannot fathom. I know there are economies of scale, but still. Incredible.

Today contained an example of getting what you want unexpectedly. I’ve been craving some time off to myself to read. Before – before marriage and especially before baby – I could sit and read all day, read a book in a day or evening, motor through a pile of books in a week. It’s harder now, but I still miss it. Today baby went for a first nap by 8:30, slept until 10. She fell asleep on me and I didn’t want to wake her so I held her and read; then laid her down and read some more with a hand on her -when I moved it she moved, so I needed to stay there :). And this afternoon, after a brief fussy period, she went down for another 2-hour nap, similarly on my and beside me but restless and needing me there (she actually woke up twice to drink and I was able to feed her and rock her back to sleep). I got to read a whole book today, start to finish. Blessing! Blissing!

At the same time, though I know that breaks like that are vital for my well-being, I can’t honestly say that I bounced out of a day of reading with new energy, perspective and focus. I actually would have loved to continue reading the rest of the evening. Sometimes staying in the space of working and doing is easier than going in and out.

We are a week and a half into the latest round of renos. This round has expanded delightfully, including a brand new laundry room & pantry, with modifications to the back “sun room”, progress on the bathroom, and work on the office, including making a writing space for me. All the new storage and finishing work will make living here so much more pleasant. And I’m looking forward to getting there, as I still really don’t enjoy living in a dirty, messy, chaotic house, particularly with a now-mobile baby who puts everything in her mouth.

And now, bedtime. I hope to have more energy to enjoy my daughter and the summer weather tomorrow.

Move

Standard

Some lessons I learn right away; others I need to learn over and over each day. Being present with my daughter is, unfortunately, one of the latter.

Today was a whiny day. For her, for me. I whined in the middle of the night when she woke up as usual and gave her “I’m hungry, feed me” cry. I whined when she asked to be picked up. I whined when she didn’t respond to any of my “please stop whining, maybe this is what you need” offers. And on and on.

There is something magical about her whine, if magical means “bizarrely effective in eliciting the desired, out-of-proportion reaction.” Her whine hits me between the ears and in my chest. When I hear it I instantly want to scream and I will do whatever will work to stop the whining. I assume that baby whines have evolutionary origins since they are perfectly pitched to rivet the attention of any adults nearby, particularly mothers, to the needs of this seemingly helpless infant. And I know that whines are not just random baby noise; they are telling me about a particular need my baby has, and offering me the opportunity to pay attention and meet that need. When I don’t respond, or respond appropriately, the whines escalate in frequency and volume and my attention increases exponentially while my inner peace, owing I assume to a lack of spiritual development, drops inversely.

And even though I noted ONLY YESTERDAY that she is signalling to me when she needs to go to the bathroom, I still missed the meaning of her whine consistently for most of the day. And though I told my mom only a few weeks ago that her whine often means she’s hungry for solids, I similarly misdiagnosed that variation on the whine all day. Peace leads to attention leads to understanding; no peace produces inattention and miscommunication.

The other challenge is that these processes are cyclic: I misdiagnose a whine, it escalates, I get more frustrated and less likely to figure out the next one and more likely to have an inappropriate, not loving reaction. It takes a conscious effort to get perspective, redirect, perhaps breathe (perhaps!) and calm down.

Learning? Breathe. Slow down. Look my baby in the eyes more. And when I need a break: take her for a walk, pick blueberries from the bush and feed them to her, take her to the library, just get out and move.

Pay Attention

Standard

Being at peace with yourself – aka being in the moment, detachment, self-love, other synonyms – has the side benefit of helping you tune into your environment and those around you. I realized today how much this can enrich parenting.

We are doing a watered-down version of elimination communication EC with Baby where we put her on the potty when we think she will need to use it. This could be either just after drinking, waking or getting out of a car seat/carrier; or when she signals us that she has to go, through particular looks or whines. When I am calm and tuned in I hear her signals much more often, and thus “catch” more of her elimination. Today she was whining and I clued in that she might have to go potty. She sat there for a few minutes and didn’t go, so I let her stand up and play beside the potty with no diaper. After a number of minutes of play she turned and looked at me and I knew she had to poo. So I put her on the potty, and there you have it. Since one of my dreams as a parent is to practice EC much more effectively for its own sake and because it’s a beautiful form of parent-child communication and care-giving. I can see how building my own peace can help me do this.

Baby has been babbling for a while and her assortment of sounds continues to grow – deep “guh guh”s and “tuh” “kuh” along with her shrieks of excitement and the incredibly sweet, high-pitched “euh!” when she’s delighted with something. Today I tuned in and heard her, several times, say “dada” when she spotted her daddy. I can’t guarantee that that is her first word, but it might very well be, and if I weren’t listening I would miss it.

Paying attention: not something to demand of ourselves and others, but the natural by-product of inner peace.

Day 7: Breathing is addictive

Standard

Wow, the end of one week of my new project. I guess that means 51 more weeks to go (followed by a lifetime, of course). This first week I’ve focused on laying the foundation for peace within myself by practicing some good habits and making time and space for good moments in my close relationships. Learning? It feels good; and it takes daily focus and (currently) effort to choose peace rather than busyness, frustration or mindlessness. Or, my big one, distraction, which I think is a form of materialism: checking email again, reading endlessly, Netflix or movies or DVDs or just multitasking decluttering cleaning obsessiveness. All this instead of being and giving directed love to my baby and other loved ones.

Tonight Husband took Baby for a walk, partly to have time for them, but mainly to give me a break and make room for writing. He is great that way, encouraging me constantly and asking me what he can do to take care of myself. I’ve loved this slice of time tonight – only half an hour so far, but so full! I showered, bustled (changed out towels), prayed and breathed, bustled some more (made tea, prepped for baby’s bath, took out milk to thaw, some clean-up, set up computer), and now write. Though bustling is tasky, it is also satisfying to sit down in a cleaner space and to take care of little things so they don’t come up from my subconscious when I’m trying to write, meditate, or relax. Whether taskiness is good or bad is one of my ongoing questions!

Whenever I’m away from baby I find that there is a lot to let go of. I still feel a constant desire to be with her, in the same room with her, touching her. Yes, sometimes I want a break, but even a few minutes away can feel like a long time even while I need longer stretches to do things that need doing. I know I can trust Baby with Husband completely, but I still worry every time he takes her out. I want to nurse right before they go, but she often won’t agree to this :). I wonder how she’s doing, if she’s happy, hungry, tired, cold. I think about when she’ll get back and what she’ll need then. I miss her. But I need the time, not necessarily as time away, but as time with myself. Sometimes it’s simply a relief to be able to rush around without guilt and take care of things. Other times there are projects that need focus and time, and that simply doesn’t happen when she’s with me. And sometimes, I just want to read or watch a movie. I tried to use my breathing and prayer tonight to let go of those worries, remember that she is fine, and let myself enjoy the time I have.

Back to the breathing. After a comment Husband made about breath starting with the exhale, I’ve been trying for the last few days to breathe out fully and gently but strongly squeeze out all the extra air before relaxing and letting the inhale happen. It’s kind of magical! Feeling the flow of breath is amazingly soothing and rejuvenating and relaxing and addictive. I want more, it feels so good! And yes, I can feel tension leaving me as I do it. Only a few minutes again tonight, combined with some prayers, but sooo worth it. I expect I’ll build up to longer stretches as this grows but for now it’s enough.

And now, back to me-time. I think I have maybe 15 minutes max before she’s home again!