Committed to myself 

I’ve always been a romantic, for as long as I can remember. When I was younger I’d imagine a fairytale wedding, a beautiful marriage, that one perfect person who would love me forever.

Gosh, with expectations that high, I should have known I was in for a rude awakening! I’d still like to think of myself as a romantic, but just with much more realistic expectations. So what changed? Me!

When I first moved back to London I remember many people telling me “Don’t let your experiences put you off marriage and love “. And I couldn’t for the life of me understand why anyone thought at the mere age of 30, I was going to be put off marriage and love. However, I was only 30, and what did I know? Because 2 years down the line, I have to admit, I was sort of put off. 

BUT what I realised is, I’m not put off by the idea, I just stopped trusting myself. When you make a choice in life and that choice isn’t what you expected, there’s a sense of disappointment. And with that disappointment comes a lack of trust in yourself, and the belief that you may make another wrong choice. And I wanted to make damn sure that didn’t happen again. So I decided to work on me.

At my dad’s suggestion I read “Committed” by Elizabeth Gilbert. This is a wonderful book. I actually listened to the audio version and Liz is a joy to listen to. For anyone who’s been hurt in love, let down by their decisions or just single and sceptical about marriage in general, this is the book for you.

  
Einstein once said “Doing the same thing over and over again but expecting a different result is insanity.” And I too realised that in order to make different choices, I had to be different. In my 20’s my choices came from a lack of assertiveness (on my part), from not knowing what I wanted and from allowing myself to be pushed around like a leaf in the wind. If I wanted to make better choices in my 30’s (and I mean choices about anything, not just love/marriage) then I had to know better. I have to know what I want, I have to stand my ground and I have to be unafraid.

But being these things is not always easy. We all need a little help along the way. Where does my help and inspiration come from? One person…Brooke Castillo. At the beginning of this year I stumbled upon Brooke’s podcast “The Life Coach School” podcast. She is absolutely amazing and everyone I have recommended her to has come back to say how inspired they feel listening to her. I refer to her as Brooke, as if she’s my buddy. And in some ways I feel like she is. When I listen to her podcasts at the gym, I feel like she is talking solely to me!

What she says is pretty profound. A lot of it is common knowledge but we forget. We allow our minds trick us, we fall into old habits, old patterns of thinking. It’s so much easier to fall backwards than it is to leap forwards. But leap we must! And change we must!

  
It’s really easy when you go through a divorce or any life changing event that hurts you to play the blame game. To find someone else to blame for how you’re feeling. But I can tell you, the only way to be happy is to change yourself. We can’t change other people  (not for lack of trying) but ultimately our joy and our choices lie in our hands. And there’s no one who deserves our love more than ourselves.

Equipped with more knowledge and a far better understanding of myself, I have no doubt that the choices I make in my 30’s will be the right ones.

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows
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Dear Dad at soft play

Dear Dad at soft play,

I saw what happened on Sunday, I was watching it all. I saw as you looked up and your son came running to you saying “Daddy, that boy pulled my hair”, you looked concerned. And who wouldn’t. No one wants their child to be hurt by another child. But soft play areas get busy, especially on a cold Sunday morning, and tensions run high between the kids and sometimes these things happen. For so many different reasons. I heard you ask your son which little boy and as he pointed, I looked over and saw two little boys come down the slide with big smiles on their faces. Whatever the issue was with that child, it was clearly forgotten about.

But you couldn’t forget it. You couldn’t let it go, telling your son to stay away. Or approach the mother and ask her to watch her child. Instead, I heard you say something I really didn’t expect, I heard you tell your son “If he pulls your hair, push him back.”

Dear dad, you look like a nice guy. You’re well dressed, as is your kid. He came to you for comfort, he came to you for a cuddle, to tell you he’d been hurt. He wanted your reassurance, your love, your comfort. Your child needs to learn how to handle things without resorting to violence. Your child needs to learn that an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind. He needs to know that these things happen in soft play centres but that he should use his words and not his hands to retaliate. To tell the other child he didn’t appreciate it. To sort it out amicably.

We live in a world where violence is on our TV screens everyday…as much as we try to shelter our children, they will be exposed to it. They don’t need to be exposed to it by those that love them the most. He needed your guidance.

I didn’t say anything because your child looked like a good kid. I didn’t actually think he was going to act on it. He was fine (all his short hair in tact) and the other kid was off on the other side of the play centre.

But what happened after that shocked me even more. Your son sees the little boy approaching him, he turns to speak to you, you look away and in those 2 seconds that your head is turned, he pushes the little boy running past him, causing him to fall and hit his head. And then coincidentally you turn back, poker face!

And the little boy’s mother runs to scoop up her crying child with sadness in her eyes. Because she can’t understand why an older boy pushed her son, while standing right beside his dad, and his dad did nothing. She didn’t know her son pulled your son’s hair, you didn’t tell her you see, you didn’t clear the air.

I know you may think you’re teaching your kid to be tough, to fight back and defend himself. To be strong and take no shit! But what you don’t realise is, your kid gave you away dad. 15 minutes later he went up to that mother and said “I pushed him” and when the mother asked “Why did you push him?” your son responded “My daddy told me to, my daddy told me to do it!”

Children aren’t born vengeful, hurtful, racist. That’s all on us, it’s how we raise them. Parenting can be tough, we’re protective of the most precious people in our life BUT physical retaliation is never the answer.

Your child needed comfort, he needed reassurance, he needed love. That’s it!

My Kid Doesn't Poop Rainbows

 

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A reason, season or a lifetime

I’ve often heard the phrase “People come into our lives for a reason, season or a life time” and I’ve recently found out how true that is. I’ve also realised that a lot of the time, those people come into our lives because that’s what we choose to attract at that time. And in most circumstances, even painful ones, those people are there to teach us something.

When relationships end or go sour, it’s very easy to play the victim card and to focus on everything the other person has done wrong. But what actually helps is to focus on what that person taught you and why they entered your life when they did. I’ve been doing that a lot in the last few months and I’ve actually found it’s given me much peace and happiness. It’s allowed to me forgive and let go.

As I evolved from this place of peace and happiness, I started to see things change. There was a very obvious shift in my life. Away from negativity and idleness, towards contentment. Things that bothered me mere months ago, now washed over me, without affecting me. I almost feel like I have a bubble of positive energy surrounding me. And other people are starting to notice it too.

One of the great outcomes of this shift has been the amazing people I have met since. Some of these people have always been around, I just wasn’t ready to meet them. But now I have! In the last couple of months, I’ve had some inspiring conversations. I’ve felt moved and determined by these women that I have met. I’ve heard stories that give me hope and those that teach me what I need to learn.

I’m lucky & blessed to have some amazing friends in my life who I know will last a life time. Going through tough times show you who your friends are and in the last couple of years I’ve also put to rest many of those friendships that were only meant to last a season. As the autumn leaves fall off, I’m reminded of how important it is for all of us to shed the old and let go so that when the spring arrives, we can welcome new energy into our lives.

In order for all these changes to come about, I had to change. I had to change my perspective and my thinking.

I took a stand, I followed my heart and I couldn’t be happier.

Breast is best BUT….

These days you can’t scroll down your Facebook feed without seeing a HuffPost Article on Breastfeeding or a picture of someone breastfeeding in public. And while it’s great that there is so much encouragement to breastfeed, I think people need to stop and consider those who *can’t* breastfeed.

When I was pregnant, no one told me how difficult it would be. No one told me about the cracked and bleeding nipples, no one talked to me about latch and no one described the guilt I would feel at not being able to do it. My cousin just had a baby and I was talking to her about feeding when she described similar issues. And the guilt she feels and as we spoke, she said she was glad she wasn’t the only one. I was quite surprised because she did quite a bit of reading before giving birth and yet she felt alone. And I’d felt the same way 3 1/2 years ago.

So when I see pictures and posts that are pro-breastfeeding, I wish they’d describe how tough it can be. Because even these posts make out like its the most natural thing in the world. And the fact is, it isn’t for everyone.

These days science has advanced so much that formula is almost as good as breast milk. It carries all the same nutrition and minerals. Some people claim that breast milk builds your child’s immunity and helps create a bond between mother and child. I’d just like to state, in my humble opinion, that is utter rubbish! S has a great immune system, even though he was practically formula fed from birth and for those that know us, there’s no lack of a bond there. In fact if you lined up a bunch of school kids, I’d bet you wouldn’t be able to spot those that were formula fed and those that were breastfed.

This post is not anti breastfeeding. If it’s possible, I’m all for it. I just think there needs to be more support for those that can’t. For those that want to but aren’t able to. For those that feel such guilt because society makes them feel that if they don’t breastfeed, they’re doing a disservice to their children. The fact is, they’re not. Whether they can’t or won’t, it really is each individual’s choice.

So to those sitting on a bit of a high horse because they were able to feed until 6 months, 12 months or even 2 years, I encourage them to reach out to friends and family who are pregnant and talk them through all the challenges. And reassure them that their kids are going to be amazing, EVEN if they aren’t breastfed!

At the end of the day, all babies really need is this little thing called LOVE!

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A sticker for your hard work

S absolutely loves stickers. When I was potty training, I used a sticker chart which really worked for us. His teacher at nursery inspired the idea because it was something they were doing there and I thought I’d carry it on at home. The other day he handed me a sticker and said “Mama, a sticker for your hard work.” I smiled and took it and the more I thought about it, I realised, we mama’s, we totally deserve it! And I don’t believe mothers give themselves enough credit for what they do and how hard they work.

So to all my mama’s out there, here’s a sticker for YOU, for everything.

For carrying and loving a baby for 9 months, giving birth, feeding, the emotions, the hormones, the sleepless nights.

For the shushing and patting, the rocking and the swaying. For their tears and ours!

For the colic and the gas. For walking our babies around in pushchairs to fall asleep, for driving our babies around to fall asleep. For the singing and humming, the lullaby’s and the nursery rhymes.

For the burping, the spit up and the pooing. Hell I’ve had poo all down my pyjamas, I think I deserve a sticker.

For the weaning, the steaming, picking pasta off their hair, picking pasta off the floor.

For the mess and the pureeing, for the bad backs bent over bath tubs, nights spent worrying about fevers and days spent worrying about naps.

For the classes and the songs. Because you know every nursery rhyme back to front.

For the Lego you have bought and the towers you have built. For the books that you read every night and the gadgets that you buy to make life that little bit easier.

For the ouchies that you’ve kissed better, for the tears you’ve wiped away.

For every time you woke in the night and every time you were woken before day break.

For the tantrums and the whining, the indecisiveness and the mind changing.

YOU, my fellow mama, deserve a sticker…for all your hard work! Because even though you don’t realise it, YOU ARE DOING A GREAT JOB!!

We do it for the love, the kisses, the cuddles, the “I love you mama’s” and the hugs (oh the hugs are the best!) but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. It just means it’s totally worth it!

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My Random Musings

Thank you, son

S is at that lovely age where his speech has well and truly kicked in and I can have full blown conversations with him. He’s got a great sense of humour, loves to wind me up and often laughs for no reason. He is so observant, has a great memory and absolutely loves cars. Since he was about 20 months, even though he couldn’t speak, he recognised cars by their brand logo and would often point to a random car on the road and say mama or ada (my dad). I’d then say “Yes, that’s like mama’s car or that’s like Ada’s car…the same brand just a different colour or model.” He now knows the names of several different car models and loves to point them out while I’m driving.

But I digress, because I could sit here and write about my son all day!! But the point of this post was actually to thank him for everything that he teaches me. Every single day. General consensus would have you believe that WE are teaching our children. And we are! When you watch them mimic us, you know they are learning from us. But at the same time, they are teaching us so much.

My son teaches me that persistence is the key. Mama…mama…mama…mama….he will keep at it until he has my attention. Does it drive me mad sometimes? Well yes…if I’m in the middle of something important…but does it get my attention? Certainly! I’m not a very persistent person. I take no for an answer far too easily and on a daily basis he teaches me how important it is to be persistent to get what you want.

My son teaches me to know what I want. I don’t know if it’s a toddler thing, a piscean thing or just his inherent nature but he knows what he wants and he’s not afraid to ask for it/say no to something he doesn’t want. Since he was quite young I’ve tried to always give him options. What would you like for breakfast? Do you want a banana or an apple? Should we go to the playground? And this kid knows what he wants! I’ve been on a course all day today and he’s been hanging out with my mom. The weather wasn’t great and so after his dramarama class my mom asked if he’d like to go to Topsy Turvy, an indoor soft play area. He didn’t want to go. And he made that very apparent. As parents we often think we know what is best for our child. It’s saturday afternoon, it’s wet outside so we can’t go to the park, surely our kid would love to go to a fun indoor soft play area?! He didn’t and even when I spoke to him on the phone, he didn’t change his mind. Stick to your guns S!

My son teaches me that an award is not everything. This is quite a funny one actually. As many of you know, I recently found out I’m a finalist in the MaDBlogAwards which is very exciting!! The award would mean a lot to me and to even be a finalist amongst some amazing bloggers is quite an honour. S got an “award” at nursery last week for knowing all his numbers and alphabets and what did he do when he was given it? Chucked it on the floor! He was not interested at all. Who needs an award when YOU know you’re good?! I hope that trait always stays with him and he doesn’t need external recognition to know how amazing he is. I on the other hand am still working on that! 😉

Lastly, my son teaches reminds me to laugh. Sometimes he’ll wake up in the morning, look at me and just laugh for no reason. Or he’ll catch the glint in my eye, know I’m about to start tickling him and laugh hysterically before I’ve even begun. Children laugh for no reason at all…how awesome is that?! Given the phrase “laughter is the best medicine”, you’d think we’d all be laughing a lot more.

So each night, as I lay down to sleep, a small thank you goes to my son for everything he is and all that he teaches me.

 

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Dear first time mom

Dear first time mom,

I often find myself congratulating first time mom’s, only to then say things like “Get lot’s of rest while you can” or “Breastfeeding is harder than it seems” or “I hope you’re taking antenatal vitamins” and while I’m sure hopeful you appreciate my advice, there’s some other things I want to tell you.

Enjoy your pregnancy as much as you can, because life will never be the same again. But this is a good thing. I want to tell you how amazing it’ll feel when your baby kicks for the first time. How you’ll always have one hand around your bump protecting it. How you’ll lay awake at night wandering what you’ll name your child, what colour hair they’ll have, will he/she have your eyes or your partner’s.

I want to tell you about the overwhelming surge of love that will rush through your body when you hold your beautiful child for the first time and the tears that will form in your eyes before you even realise they’re there.

I want to tell you that it’s not always easy, your emotions are all over the place and in the first few weeks post partum you may find yourself burst into tears, for no apparent reason. But then one night at 3am, while you’re feeding your baby, you’ll look down and your heart will feel like it’s about to burst with joy and love.

Your child will test your patience, find all your buttons, push them and push you to your limits but that smile, that giggle, those eyes filled with mischief, you won’t be able to resist them.

You’ll encourage your child to crawl then walk and you’ll take videos and clap with glee when they do. And then right before their 3rd birthday you’ll find yourself sitting quietly one night, with those same tears of love in your eyes because you realise your little baby is not so little anymore.

You’ll answer lots of questions, you’ll get frustrated by many of them and you may even snap when you’re over tired and cranky but when your child is sitting quietly playing with his toys and minding his own business, you’ll miss him.

While being a mother feels like an emotional rollercoaster, and your heart will quite literally hurt when you see them hurt, the pride that comes with raising a child is second to none.

So dear first time mom, be weary, be nervous but also be joyful for the best relationship you’re ever going to have.

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Magic Moments

Anyone who has a toddler knows how challenging it can be. One minute they love noodles and the next, noodles are the enemy. They go from loving bath time to thinking it’s the worse part of their day. And sometimes they lay on the floor saying they want to go outside and when you get all their gear on, they change their minds. It’s a full time job! But amongst all the craziness, you have these magical moments. The one’s that make your heart swell and bring tears to your eyes when you re-live them.

I’ve been having lot’s of those moments lately. S has been extra cuddly and he’ll randomly come up to me and say “I want a BIG cuddle” and then proceeds to throw his arms around my neck and really squeeze. It’s the best part of my day!! In the last couple of days we’ve invented a “small cuddle” and that’s where we go nose to nose and do a little “hee hee hee”. It’s random and silly and probably makes no sense to anyone else. But it’s our magical moment and I’m making the most of it before he grows up and thinks I’m weird!!


My word for 2015

As I mentioned in my New Year post earlier this week, I embarked on Susannah Conway’s “Find your Word for 2015” 5 day email class.

Each year I make resolutions and by February, I’m wandering what they even are. One of my resolutions every year for the last 10 years has been to lose weight and clearly that hasn’t happened. I think the only resolution I’ve kept for the last 5 years or so is to never live with regrets. To believe everything happens exactly as it is meant to and move on. This is of course not always easy and is a constant practice. Life can throw us some real curveballs and it sometimes takes me a little time to get my head around things. But ultimately I do and move on convincing myself there’s a bigger plan for me that I’m just not seeing yet.

So roll around 2015 and when I got wind of Susannah Conway’s “Word of 2015” it suited me just right. The idea behind it is to focus on the year ahead and what you’d like to achieve, what you see your perfect day as and how you want to feel. She sends you 5 emails that help you gather your thoughts and narrow down one word for the year ahead. As humans we’re constantly evolving and developing, learning and growing and what I loved about this practice was that she made it very clear that nothing is set in stone and so while I may find my word now, my word could actually change by March. This was reassuring because narrowing down to one word was no easy task.

My word actually came to me before I started the practice…it kept reverberating in my mind but I went through the 5 days to make sure it really was the word I wanted. And it turns out I wanted lots of words!! They included Focus, Conscious, Love, Abundant, Independence, Determination, Shakti, Kindness, Nourish, Healing, Freedom, Clarity and Commitment. In the end I narrowed it down to Conscious, Abundant, Determination, Shakti and Freedom. On day 3, she asked us to write down what each of the 5 words meant to us and what it really meant. I began to notice a pattern. All my words linked to me and finding my inner strength, my drive and also being more present.

Can you guess what my word is yet??

In the end I went with CONSCIOUS. When I reflected back on 2014 and looked forward to 2015, one of the things that kept popping into my mind was my inability to focus. While I am able to do many things, all in the name of multitasking of course, I realised that I’d rather do one thing well than many things half heartedly. I also realised that I spend a lot of time on my phone and catch myself saying to S “Just one minute” when he needs my attention. I most certainly do not want to be that mom with her head down all the time. No one’s Facebook status is more important that the time I spend with S. I’ve decided to remove the Facebook app from my phone and make my time with S a FB free zone. Let’s be honest, we’re addicts and while I know this won’t always be easy, it needs to be done.

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The other thing I realised was that I often sit down to write a blog post or read a blog post and half way through I’ll get up to go get something to eat or get a glass of water. Totally unnecessary! So my word CONSCIOUS is really a reminder for me to FOCUS, be more AWARE, be PRESENT and to really NOTICE all around me.

Here’s to living a more conscious 2015!! 🙂 Do you have a word for 2015 or any new resolutions?

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Kahlil Gibran on children

I went to a parenting talk yesterday (more on that tomorrow) and the speaker reminded us of an old poem by Kahlil Gibran that is so profound, I felt the need to share it here.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Have a peaceful weekend x