Monday, 17 December 2012

Letting Go of the Little Things

Goodness, I have been trying to write this post for weeks and with one thing or another, finding time to do anything other than look after my little man and keep as close to on top of essential household / life chores as a Mummy of an almost one year old can, it has been impossible.

No matter. Here I am so let's get writing.

Inspired by a couple of different things lately, I've been working really hard on appreciating things more. The things that are enormous in my world, so big in fact and so always there and so always good that I almost forget to appreciate them because I have been too busy focusing on the not so good little things. Those things that happen day after day, that are always in your face saying, 'Hey, I'm here to make sure your day isn't a perfect one'. Those pesky little things that really, in the whole scheme of things, just don't matter at all, not even close to how much the big things matter and yet so many of us spend most of our time focusing on them because, grrrr, they're just so bloody pesky and so bloody there. I'm very guilty of this. Let me explain a little further what I mean.

Often, as I flick through the channels on the TV, the pages of a magazine, articles on a website or stations on a radio, I will stumble across something that really inspires me. Something that makes me feel incredibly foolish for moaning about the little things like the train being late; the rain falling too hard on my face; Dalton not eating yet another home-prepared meal but instead executing that face like I have just presented him with ricin. Something that makes me feel so lucky to have what I have and I promise myself that I will from this day forward behave differently - more admirably, rise above the little things, remember to appreciate what I have and tell the people that I do so greatly appreciate that I appreciate them. And then I step in a puddle, shout profanities and forget all about whatever it was that was going to change my view on the world and my place in it. This has happened a lot in my life but for whatever reason, two particular things I stumbled upon recently have really got to me and really given me a giant 'slap in the face' style wake-up call about appreciating the things I am so lucky to have and not being too busy 'being busy' to notice how great they are.  The great thing about both of these things that are attached to the giant slapping hand is that they keep prodding me in the arm weekly or sometimes even daily with new reminders about why I need to appreciate what I have and 4 weeks on from making several new pacts with myself, whilst I am possibly not always outwardly showing it, not a day has passed where I haven't taken some time to stand back and really appreciate the big things in my life and be very, very grateful for them.

The first kick up the @rse came from a campaign I stumbled across on Radio 2 called Bottle Stop. This truly inspirational lady's utterly heartbreaking story has had me in floods of tears more times than I care to remember and I've been following and supporting her campaign ever since hearing her story. In April of this year, the love of her life, and father of her two children, was tragically killed in an unprovoked attack in a night club with a broken glass bottle that severed 2 of the main arteries in his neck. This unbelievably brave and courageous lady has thrown all of her efforts in to trying to change the law on the use of glass bottles in late night bars and clubs - banning them in place of plastic ones - a campaign I hope she wins but what this lady does, almost daily, is open her heart and let you in to her world in a way that leaves you feeling like you know her and share her heartache. Every time she posts an update about her love for her husband, his love for his children, their shared love as a family, it breaks my heart and I can't help but instantly imagine the man in the posts being the love of my life and how I would feel if anything ever took my love or my son from me. It doesn't bear thinking about but one thing's for sure, every day, thanks to this amazing woman (who probably has no idea how much she is inspiring people in all sorts of ways other than just the plastic bottle push) I make sure I take some time out to appreciate how lucky I am to have met the love of my life, to have been able to make a little person with him and turn us in to a family and how lucky I am that both my boys are here and healthy (this is why I nag you all the time to take a day off and rest, Ron - it isn't just because I like to nag - it is because we love you and we need to you to be here and to be well for a very long time). Some people are not as lucky as us and I try to remember this every day and make sure I tell both my boys, at least once, if not several times a day, how much I love them.

The second kick up the @rse, and one that gives me more than a glimmer of hope that I can work really hard on relaxing my obsessional perfectionist nature in the Motherhood slice of my pie enough to one day become more of the relaxed type of Mummy that I have so much admiration for, would dearly like to be, and am more than a little bit envious of, is a fantastic blog called Hands Free Mama that was put under my nose by a very good friend of mine. Once more, I found this lady and her writing truly inspirational and since coming across her blog, I've dug deep in to the archives and found myself welling up a lot more times (yeah, so I cry a lot now I'm a Mummy - it's emotional, OK!) and making a million promises to myself about what I will and will not do in the future and try to remind myself every day how I am going to get there. Her philosophy, one which she refers to as 'hands free' is all about letting go of all the things that fill up your life daily causing you to over-commit, forever be too busy and essentially, with one thing or another, just too busy to enjoy that really important reason that we are all here - life! She describes her wake-up call brilliantly here and reading her blog was like reading my own words. Reading about the person that she was - the person I am - and reading about the person she has become overflowed me with a claustrophobic guilt because every day, I do all the things she talks about getting in the way of really enjoying life. Things like getting anxious because I didn't respond to that email a friend sent me or voicemail they left me within a few hours, just because that is what I do. That is what I have always done and that is what the world expects of me. Things like feeling like I have to say 'Yes' anytime I am asked to help someone / be part of a committee / help build a website for something because this is what I do, this is what I have always done and this is what people expect of me. To ensure I am never late. To anything. Because this is what I do, this is what I have always done and this is what people expect of me. Well, so fucking what?! I am finally starting to realise after almost 36 years of trying to be perfect that it doesn't actually make anyone around me happy and it certainly doesn't make me happy.

So, armed with these two great new inspirations in my life, the wordsmiths of both writing often enough to make sure I never forget about them or their message, I am working especially hard on two things:
  1. Appreciating the many wonderful things I have in my life - my family and friends
  2. Letting go, little by little of the many things in my life that I try to make perfect, sometimes at the expense of actually being happy
And I have to say, so far, it's going well. Don't get me wrong, I've got an enormous mountain to climb, particularly with the second goal. I still moan a lot about things (hey, a leopard never changed its spots overnight), I still find myself getting far too stressed when my boy isn't eating or sleeping well, I still get an instant urge to make sure I respond to mails, texts, letters, phone calls virtually instantly that I am working really hard to try to suppress, I still get quite deeply depressed that when times are particularly challenging (mostly when my little boy is stealing my sleep) that even after almost a year I still find being a Mummy very hard, but little by little, I believe I can get there. 'There' being a place I definitely want to be. It won't be easy or straight-forward and I won't climb this mountain overnight but I have definitely started my ascent.

And so I carry on, making it all up as I go, trying not to fuck it up too much, making sure I appreciate all the good things in my life I am very lucky to have and trying to let go enough to notice happiness washing over me.

My little boy turns 1 in just a few weeks and I can't help but reflect on this past year - the most oxymoronically amazing and most challenging year of my life by a million miles. There is no doubt that being a Mummy brings you moments that are the best you can ever feel and the worst you can ever feel - sometimes all in the same day. It never stops presenting you with challenges and you never stop thinking about whether you're 'doing it right' and beating yourself up about it just in case you're not but I can confirm that most days something happens that makes your heart feel like it is going to burst with pride and love for this little person you have made who is learning every day how to become a big person - beaming up at you every day, hoping you're not going to fuck it up too much too.

Since I last wrote, I have taken thousands of photos of the (in my considerably biased view) most scrumptious boy in the whole of the world but I will leave you with just a selection of my boy getting in to the Christmas spirit as we approach our first Christmas together. What can I do? The boy just loves dressing up.

Mummy's Little Reindeer
Mummy's Little Elf
Mummy's Little Santa

There are, as ever, a million things I wanted to write about today and of course I have forgotten most of them but rather than doing what I usually do and spending hours trying to remember them, editing and re-editing, I'm just going to let it go and trust that there may be a few mistakes in this post and a few things I have forgotten to say but that you will understand the general essence of what I am trying to say and that's enough. It doesn't have to be perfect.

So I will just depart wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and to all of my very near and dear friends, thank you so much for all the love and support you have shown me over the last year and to my wonderful family - the one I live with now and the one I used to live with - I love you all very much and enormously appreciate you always being there for me, sometimes when I didn't need you but always when I did.