15th January 2015: Thank goodness for second chances!

And then there were two…..

I cannot believe how different it is being a parent of a second child versus the first time. It is so easy and it is so difficult. It is easy because you’ve been there and done that and tend to be more relaxed and you know that your child will not be feeding around the clock for the rest of your life! It is difficult because juggling both children is so damn hard.

I remember a moment, while pregnant, lying next to my daughter one night before she went to sleep thinking “How am I ever going to find enough space in my heart for more of the same kind of love I feel for you?”  Yet, I have found it and it is also a huge amount and makes me want to be the BEST MOTHER IN THE WORLD (LOL!) So now, I don’t just have one one load of guilt but double the guilt!

A huge benefit is that I can correct what I did wrong… I am so sorry for my Jocelyn. She was a real pilot study and I would dearly love to redo some of her childhood! I was anxious, uptight, controlling and often angry and resentful aka first-time parent cross Type-A personality! I didn’t have that much patience and easily lost my cool. She hardly slept in the first year. Part of it was reflux and part of it I am sure is that she picked up on my emotional tension and turmoil. I was also the oldest child and I am conscious of the fact that a lot of my guilt around her experience as the first child is linked to my own experiences. I also know that she has had exactly the childhood and experiences that she was meant to have and I hope that I have played my part as mommy-of-first-child as well as I was able under the circumstances. A little aside about how being first born can shape personality – in my Masters Psychology class of 9 all of us were the first born. If we had not been the first born children, having to take on responsibility at a young age and all else that comes with that, we may well have not been sitting in that class.

Secondly, I know that this too shall pass for real. Yes, I may have said it a million times a day with Jocelyn but did I ever really believe it….. I think I hoped that if I said it frequently and emphatically enough it would come true immediately! I now know it is true and have found greater patience. I won’t lie – there have still been many moments of overwhelm and frustration but they have been fewer and often don’t last very long.

Thirdly, I have the opportunity to see my loving and caring 2 and half year old hugging her brother and telling people about her baby brother with a fierce pride. This is the biggest gift any mother could ask for and to have a pigeon pair is a true blessing! The other upside of having an older girl child is that she is by nature nurturing (I have heard many stories of friends’ boys hitting their baby siblings or shaking their cots whereas Jocelyn displaces her anger onto the pets while continuing to love her brother!) With that nurturing comes a desire to help me with everything baby brother related, including putting cream on his bottom!

Finally, the gift in having two is that I know I can’t break him! This really helps me to be more relaxed in much of what I do. Poor Tyler has been given many dummies that fell on the floor and were put straight back into his mouth without so much as a thought about cleaning them. My motto – it will help build his immune system! All that energy I wasted on Jocelyn on cleaning dummies, wiping things down, etc is now used for other purposes with Tyler, like being able to have a sense of humour this time around!

There are of course the downsides to having two – The biggest is that I can’t spend much time with Jocelyn because EVERYTHING right now is about Tyler. Yes, a pouch/sling helps a great deal and he gets dragged from swimming lessons to the park and up slides but I am not there 100% with her as I was before. Often I can’t be there at all and I seem to constantly be saying “I have to feed Tyler” or “I have to put Tyler to sleep” So the guilt is BIG.

HOWEVER, somewhere along the line with this whole process and now having two I have finally also started to shift that guilt. I have always been conscious that it had to do with my own childhood experiences/perceptions related to receiving attention. My mother had to work – it was just how it had to be- but I hated it. It would normally have been fine but there was a lot of political violence and trouble in Umtata at that time and I was anxious and needy and she was not always able to be there for me. Along with that I felt I had to look after my sister. Now I am conscious of this and I am also conscious of how it shapes my tendency to believe that I am not giving Jocelyn enough. But SHE IS NOT ME.

Today I went for a BodyTalk session and what should come up but the consciousness of regret I hold in relation to my children and related guilt because “I should have spent more time….etc” What also came up was bitterness and resentment. We don’t like to know this about ourselves as caregivers but of course there is also some resentment at times when we have to be there for our children yet we can barely find enough time to pat the dog and chat to our partner for five minutes. Fortunately, the fact that this has come up in BodyTalk means I am really finally shifting and letting it go. I can now start to live in a way where I am not letting my past unconsciously define my present actions and perceptions. I can allow my daugther to have her own experience instead of my experience. Furthermore, her experience doesn’t have to be tainted by my guilt and compensation for my past if I hold these in my awareness.

Another amazing aspect to the session was the idea of presence being not that length of time spent with Jocelyn but the quality of the time. Two minutes spent commenting on the squiggles she has drawn with such pride and care and really noticing them and acknowledging her is worth bucket loads more than the twenty minutes spent doing puzzles while simultaneously checking my phone and rocking Tyler. So that is what I do and HAVE been doing (so I am redeemed after all!) because it is always possible to find those two minute moments in every day that I share with my two children where I just make sure that she is the very centre of my very busy and full life! As for Tyler – as long as he is in the pouch close to mommy he thinks everything is just peachy!

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Doing it a little differently

So much for regular diary entries! Suddenly I find myself with an almost 9 month old baby and I have not had a chance to spend much time on my blog – resulting in 16 rough drafts I have not been able to polish and post.

If I have to be honest with myself I have also been procrastinating and, as with most procrastination, that is fueled by perfectionism. In my case I want to do justice to my blog and write as well as I am able which does not feel possible when I live with a constant case of brain fog. I call my children using my pet’s names, I shout at my pets using my children’s names, I keep referring to the damn dishwasher as a tumble dryer and the other day called my dressing gown a sleeping bag. (This is not really surprising given that I can usually be found most nights wondering through the house in a daze and wrapped in my dressing grown as I answer the cries of one of my children or rock Tyler to sleep!)  My point being, with a fuzzy brain like that – I don’t feel I can write so well and battle to write as easily as I have in the past. I have now chosen to bite the bullet and do it – fuzzy brain and all…. After all, if the bar that defines good enough is not lowered after two children you may as well just throw in the dressing gown….I mean towel! 

So what I am going to do is post all the drafts I started even though some are now as much as 8 months out of date. It will be a retrospective tale of conscious living (and some very unconscious and raw, instinctual moments!) since Tyler was born last November. I will finish them up and post them one by one. This is a very self-motivated act as I am sure it will be healing for me to see what I have been through and where I am now. However, I truly hope that for some of you who are in the midst of the darkness and craziness that can fall upon you after a new baby enters your life, this style of blogging and my blogs will remind you that life does eventually start to resume some form of normality (which includes a lovely, babbly, crawling and madly teething baby!)

July 2015: 8 months in and riding the wave

It’s been pretty rough but somehow I am not experiencing it the same as I did before. I have stopped resisting and have really got into riding the wave of ups and downs, knowing it will pass.

I feel like my plea for ease in my life has finally been heard. It’s been a long time that I have been using the mantra “I live my life with joy, ease and abundance’. I recently changed that to ‘I invite and accept joy ease and abundance’ because I was aware of my belief that somehow life has to be a struggle and ease is viewed with suspiscion. After a crazy holiday in Knynsa with a rabidly teething child who kept trying to crawl in his sleep, which naturally caused him to wake rather abruptly and unhappily many times a night, I discovered my son is a HORRIBLE teether.

I made my way back to Cape Town with a sense of relief that we would be back in our space with our normal routine and hopefully things would get back to some semblance of normal (i.e. waking only 2/3 times a night versus 8 – 12 times a night or staying awake for 2 hour periods while playing tag wake up with his sister). Things did not get easier straight away. However, during my shavasana following my much needed and greatly treasured weekly post-natal yoga class, I was focussing on inviting ease and abundance and felt quite tearful as a huge sense of release and relief came over me. I knew with certainty that that was already being granted.

Recently a friend was pointing out how cushy his work setup is currently and I asked him if he believes that life is easy. He replied ‘No, I got here because I work hard’. I replied that I don’t think he would have landed with his bum in the butter no matter how hard he worked if he did not have an underlying belief that a) it is possible to achieve that and b)he deserves it. What we believe determine what we receive.

For too long I have held a belief that life has to be struggle – probably inherited from my mother’s side of the family who have generations of struggle behind them and also acquired through experiences in my childhood. On top of that I had not necessarily believed that I was deserving of joy,ease and abundance in my life until recently. However, as I have worked on manifesting these things in my life and shifting my beliefs I am really starting to see the fruits of my desires. Manifestation DOES work – be very wary of what you desire as it will become your reality! Now, not only have I been finding that despite continued sleep deprivation I am finding it so much easier to cope and also have more energy, I have also been so much more present in the lives of my children -noticing the naughty giggles, the gorgeous look of glee on my daughter’s face as she went on the blue train, my son’s face lighting up when he could stand up while being supported….the little things that can so easily be missed when there is a focus on how hard life is and there is a resistance to what is. To then take it a step further last night my son slept from 7pm to 5am and after a feed slept again till 7am. Now that is true abundance – better than all the gold and riches in the world!

I have to say that one thing that has added to my ability to accept that there will be good times and bad times is that I came across the Wonder Weeks – alleged periods during a baby’s development when mental leaps cause fussiness. While Jocelyn seemed to be in one constant Wonder Week which was really not very wonderful, my son could be the poster child for The Wonder Weeks. When it says he will be cranky, clingy and won’t sleep well from X week to Y week it has been on the money with regards to Tyler.

This is what I see as the wave – there are rough times but I know they will always pass and so if I ride that wave and don’t try and swim against it life is just so much easier!