2015 will bring about a huge change for me as a mother. October is the month that Mr O, the baby of our family (although, as he keeps reminding me in a stern voice, he’s not a baby), will turn four and join his two brothers at primary school. In October 2015 I will have three school going children. For the first time in nearly nine years there will be no children at home during the school day (apart from the lunchtime routine as Dutch children often come home to eat). No little people all day. Just me.
Part of me is dancing a very energetic happy dance at the thought. Alone time. Time to write. Time to think. But part of me is also more than a little mournful. How fast they grow. On the bright side though, I have another nine months with my youngest at home before those child free hours are upon me. And I plan to make the most of them with him.
I also want to get more comfortable in my own skin this year. The past eight years have been a hectic collage of becoming a mother, of more sleepless nights than I care to think about, of pregnancies, breastfeeding and weaning, and of applauding all the wonderful firsts with three little boys – like crawling, talking and walking. There have been nursery school starts and first days at primary school. The last eight years have been about learning how to parent a highly sensitive child. It’s been years of learning that highly sensitive children don’t conform to a mould. Just as I thought I had the gist of what being a HSC meant another precious son came along and proved me wrong. It’s been eight years of discovering that I too am highly sensitive and learning how best to parent as a HSP. I’ve also been through a huge career change. In short, it’s been an intense time.
From the moment we welcomed our first child to the world it was like standing in the middle of a snow globe, watching helplessly whilst a giant hand shook the snow globe, knowing I could not reach the hand, could not stop the shaking. I just had to wait for the snow to settle – and now, eight years later, it feels like the snow is finally beginning to do just that. Things feel a little more stable around me. But I do feel dazed. Like I have been left hanging a little off kilter in my snow globe world. I’m not quite where I should be. And this year I want to work on changing that.
I want to feel more comfortable being me again. That’s both physically and mentally. More mindful eating. Eat breakfast (a small tweak that will apparently change my year). More physical movement, but something that works for me instead of another failed gym membership. Something a little more gentle that doesn’t mean attending a sweaty, busy, gym filled with weightlifting bodybuilders. Something that doesn’t drag me out when I least want to leave the house. I’m getting to know myself better as each year passes. I’m learning what will work and what is doomed to failure.
Feeling more comfortable will include a complete wardrobe overhaul. It means more sleep. Feeling more comfortable in my own skin means focussing on relationships. It means more time with my husband, letting him know just how important he is. We’ve been through a huge parenting learning curve, particularly when things for my eldest were not going well at school. These things take their toll on a marriage. This year means a renewed focus on us. The two of us. The basis of our family. The reason our little family exists.
Feeling more comfortable in my own skin means calming my mind. I saw this gem about a woman’s mind being like an internet browser with a whole host of pages open at the same time and it was a lightbulb moment. It sums up perfectly how busy my mind constantly is. I’m always thinking about all the things that I ‘need’ to do. If the children are at school and my youngest is napping, I am busy – and that has been the way it has been since I became a mother. I have a rich inner life. A thousand thoughts, feelings and ideas whizzing by at the same time. Note pads and stickies full of fleeting thoughts, brainwaves. Half sentences. Odd words. The motor always running.
A few weeks ago, in the height of crazy December, I sat down one morning, whilst all three of my sons were in school, and I watched an episode of Downton Abbey. I battled with myself to actually get to that point. But I switched off. I ignored the nagging voice in my mind that said I should be doing one of the many things listed in my bullet journal for that day. I banished the voice that nagged me to get some of the overdue house cleaning done. I stuck two fingers up to my own thoughts, and instead sat on the sofa, drank a hot cup of coffee and
slobbered over watched the lovely Hugh Bonneville instead.
I can count on one hand how many times I have allowed myself this kind of ‘unproductive’ time alone since becoming a mother in January 2007. And I know now that I need to give myself permission to take time for myself. Permission to just do nothing that has a practical, productive outcome that I can scratch off a list. I am learning the hard way that calming my mind is as important as any other action on a to do list.
I want to close some of these internet pages that are constantly open in my mind. Open one page at a time, deal with it and then close it down. More focus. Less energy wasted. Less chaos. More calm in my mind.
2015 is a year I vow to invite less stress into my life, shrug off the little things. Accept what I need to function as a parent, a highly sensitive parent. To be more forgiving for my shortcomings. To sometimes put myself first.
I plan to calm my mind with creative journalling, by emptying my thoughts onto blank pages. I plan to breathe more consciously – be more mindful of my own breathing. To practice what I preach to my highly sensitive sons. To calm it down. To take time to empty my bucket too, and not just encourage them to empty theirs. I vow to nurture my inner calm. Quieten my inner voice sometimes. I want to enjoy the little moments more instead of constantly planning for the bigger ones – a happiness jar will help with that.
I plan to take advantage of the fact that the snow is settling around me. There is a kind of peace enveloping me in my snow globe. And I want to enjoy that before the giant hand thinks about giving the globe another shake……