Updated: Aug 20, 2021
March 29th, 2018
“It’s not easy being a mother. If it was easy, fathers would do it.” -The Golden Girls
Gosh, it has almost been four months since I last wrote a Blog. No wonder I’m chomping at the bit! I have been dying to write for the longest time but I am incredibly sleep deprived and by the time I settle my bubba off to sleep in the evening all I have energy for is chewing my dinner and brushing my teeth in preparation for bed!
I am not at all surprised that sleep deprivation is used as a form of torture. Almost eight months into my mothering journey I have adjusted to the sleeplessness but god, those five AM wake-ups after a broken night of feeding make me want to bury my head in sand like an ostrich.
I have come to the conclusion that some babies sleep, and others do not. I must admit Anna isn’t too bad at night (most of the time) but I did think by this time I wouldn’t be getting up any where near to three times in the night. I also thought we’d get somewhere with the day naps, that didn’t involve me pushing a pram or dancing to Bruce Springsteen or John Denver’s “Thank God I’m A Country Boy”.
I started to think my baby was dealing with some trauma or anxiety or something so I carted her off to a cranial sacral practitioner but it just turned into a counselling session for me. Apparently she’s perfectly content. Go figure. I then went to a sleep workshop about a month or so ago and was excited about the prospect of it working, like it has done for many people. However, after six painful nights, and a couple of phone calls to the sleep specialist, we aborted the mission. We didn’t attempt one of those “let them cry it out” approaches, it was more nurturing than that, but honestly after the first six nights with no improvement and added anxiety for everyone involved we came to the conclusion that our baby needed a different approach.
It took a while for us to settle back into our quirky little ways of encouraging sleep, but it’s all much calmer now. It doesn’t stop me wanting to stab any mother in the eye with a screwdriver when they exclaim their baby sleeps through the night though, or settles to sleep on their own, but I have discovered that visualising stabbing people in the eye with a screwdriver is my go to. These visualisations have recently involved my husband, mother-in-law, and the lady who flicked me off and called me a twat during a fleeting moment of road rage last week.
Talking about sleep, and stabbing eyeballs, I am currently having a rare little moment here on the floor of my living room. I have my computer on my lap and one foot nudging the baby car seat into a rocking motion, where little Anna is sleeping soundly. I managed to transfer her from the car into the house without her waking, which is a huge win, but now my foot is about to lock into a ghastly cramp. I am willing to weather it if it means she sleeps though. Sleep promotes sleep they say and I am deadly scared she will rise from the depths of sleep and sabotage my little Blog writing floor picnic here.
It’s amazing how many levels of self you sacrifice as a mother. It goes deeper than the obvious. I have held myself in the most uncomfortable positions until it felt like Rigor mortis was setting in, gripped with the fear that any movement will destroy the peace.
I am incredibly relieved in moments like this where I don’t have to be walking around the town like a lost soul, pushing Anna around in the pram. Don’t get me wrong, I love walking, but I have quite literally pushed the pram through rain, hail and snow over the past months, all in the name of sleep. I have also quite literally walked the width and breadth of the town and am running out of routes. Besides it’s looking miserably English outside and quite honestly I’m not in the mood.
These dozens of walks though have given me the head-space to reflect on this wild trip: motherhood. Just as it’s time for Anna to get some much needed sleep, it is also time for me to dust away the cobwebs and reset for the hours that follow in the day.
Today has been a day of activity. I covered the post-natal class at the Yoga Shed this morning, which is conveniently around the corner from where I live. I can take Anna with me, which makes it all possible (one of the greatest challenges along this, almost eight-month journey so far, is not having any family/childcare around for support), and I am incredibly grateful for this little yoga community that has welcomed me in here. The class went great but I have to laugh. Yoga teachers (myself included in the past) often get pissed off about their students not listening in class. If you’ve ever taught a yoga class to mums with their babies in tow, you know for sure that NO ONE is listening.
There are screams, cries, distractions, and moments where mammas step out of the sequence altogether to latch the little one onto a boob, amidst a lop-sided effort to do something for themselves. I’m happy to teach it though, I now know all so well how meaningful it is to have a class like that to go to.
Anna was bloody amazing. I left her with a pile of toys, threw her an apple and cinnamon rice cracker here and there, and gave a cuddle where needed, and we got through the hour just fine. I’m especially blessed in that sense. When she is awake, she’s astonishingly easy to get along with. Content, independent, and continuously at the ready to give one of her wide open mouth smiles.
I love those smiles almost as much as I love her wide wet open-mouthed kisses she plants on me from time to time.
I am now teaching a regular yoga class on Sundays at the Yoga Shed and it’s feeling really good. I have my moments come Sunday morning where I realise I haven’t made it onto my mat for self practice all week, I haven’t slept all night, and have had such a crazy morning organising everyone so haven’t managed to squeeze in a little me time before heading off to teach. Those are the moments I wonder why I am putting the pressure on myself to get back into it so soon, and question what I have to offer. A few weeks back I spoke to my sister from another mister in Australia, and she asked me, “What would you like from a class right now?” I think I said something along the lines of just wanting space for me, to breathe, to move my body, to feel my strength, to release and relax.” “So give them that”, she suggested. So that’s what I do.
After teaching the post-natal class today we darted off to our weekly swimming lessons, which Anna loves. We go to a hydrotherapy pool and it’s wild how intuitive these little beings are. Did you know you can put a baby under water and they’ll instinctually hold their breath?
I also learned today too that when you put them under and let them go they’ll kick/wiggle to the surface. It’s a super cool activity and a great way to break up the week and secure some entertainment for us both.
I’m pretty sure Anna gets bored of me, and I don’t blame her, these days I am quite frequently bored of myself!
I’ve also discovered that there is a baby screening in a cinema near where we live. Every Thursday morning at eleven you can take your baby (of up to 36 months) to a screening. It’s a space for parents to sit and relax (as much as possible) and watch a movie without the worry of their baby making noise, or having to stand up and bounce around a bit if need be. We’ve been the past three weeks and Anna loves it. The first time we went she turned to look at me like “Wow mum where have you brought me, this is so cool!” It’s also dark and loud so I’ve been pleasantly surprised that she’s slipped off into sleep every time.
It is in these moments, still and contented, I release a great sigh of relief, and shove a few mouthfuls of popcorn in my gob. They’re incredibly precious snippets in time, and poignant reminders to let go of grudges and bathe in the infinite gratitude of what is.
The highs and lows of motherhood are vast, and the capacity to forgive (mostly ones self) is crucial. It is so easy to wish the time away. I remember wishing for Anna to be able to sit and I now find myself showering with her on the bathroom floor again so I can keep an eye on her. She’s teetering on the verge of pulling herself up and crawling so can’t be left even in her own cot right now while awake.
Every moment should be cherished, no matter how challenging or confronting it may be. Wishing for something different robs all the beautiful moments of right now so that’s where I am focusing. Right now.