A long time ago, I can clearly remember people telling me that it would all get easier when the baby was six weeks. It didn’t particularly…
Then it was, “It will get easier when they’re three months", then "six months…”
It will get easier when they finally sleep though the night; when they can feed themselves; when they can walk…
It will get easier when they will settle with someone else...when they start pre-school...when they can make their own breakfast...when they’re in school every day...when they get themselves dressed...when they’re happy to go into town on their own…
Looking at this list, it makes me smile to think that despite all the evidence against this, I’ve continued to assume that one day… it will actually get easier. I’m 11 years in, and every time I look towards one of those moments when I thought ease would come - it proves itself to be yet another mirage. And the parenting challenges shift forward once again. It’s a game of catch up. Of constant change and adjustment. It never gets ‘easy’, and however much we learn, we can never be fully prepared for the next stage. There is always another challenge ahead, ready to unseat us from the wonky donkey of parenting…
It's like hiking up a mountain, and thinking we can see the top - until the peak ahead is revealed. As we parent, we find ourselves facing the next endurance challenge, the next path to be found through the bracken and the rocks. And sometimes, that can feel incredibly hard. Insurmountable even. We feel unsure of our abilities, and doubt our capacity to keep going. We question whether we will ever be "good enough". Caught by the disappointment, shock, inevitability or sheer exhaustion of a new challenge - we forget to pause. Not just to draw strength and have a sandwich… but to look back.
To look back and see how far we have come. How far our resilience, persistence, faith -and possibly, sheer bloody-mindedness - has taken us. How far we have journeyed already on this parenting journey, fuelled almost entirely by love. We don't stop to notice how amazing that is. How amazing we are for getting here. How much more we can see from here than we could see from the bottom. Even if the path ahead is cloudy - as it always will be, none of us can see the future - we need to look back, and remind ourselves of all the progress we have made.
Don’t forget to stop and soak up the view today. To appreciative that however hard it is right now, you have already journeyed so far - through six weeks, three months, six months. And ever onwards.
You learnt so much along the way.
You won't have learnt all of the lessons you will need to face the challenges ahead - because no one does. But you have learnt to move forward when it isn’t easy. How to manage change, and keep going. And that is the most important lesson of all.
So... finally... I’ve stopped hoping for easy. That doesn’t mean that I don’t try to make things easier for myself when I can. If I need a duvet day, and fish and chips tea, that’s absolutely fine with me - that’s usually good self care. Letting go of "it will get easier" simply means that I’ve stopped believing that there will come a point when I know what I’m doing. When I’ll get it right all the time. When I’m a ‘fully trained parent’ with all the skills, all the wisdom, calmly flipping pancakes in the face of chaos.
Instead, I’m choosing to accept where I am now, to value the journey to get here, and to concentrate on simply honing my ability to cope with change. And my ability to cope with change is rooted firmly in my capacity to be kind to myself when things go wrong. In taking good care of myself. And in remembering to stop when I reach the top of each mini mountain to look back and celebrate what went right, how I grew, and where I am.
Can you do the same for yourself today? Can you find ease in taking care of yourself - in looking after your needs, and appreciating all that you’ve done already today, the hills you’ve climbed to support your children? Rest, look back. Draw strength from all you’ve achieved already. At all the changes you’ve managed so far. And when you’re ready, let's bribe each other with mini gems (or whatever works for you), and continue this journey together.
You might appreciate a lovely giveaway I'm doing over at Sea Soul Blessings - because if you're in the UK, it means I get to send a mini set of Sea Soul Blessings to you in the post.
If you're outside the UK, there's a gift for you too - a very lovely hot-off-the-press ebook called "Self Compassion and the Sea" - to inspire you to be kinder to yourself.
Apart from the joy of sending treats in the post, I'm hoping the giveaway will help us to raise awareness of Sea Soul Blessings and encourage people to buy them as Christmas presents so that we can donate a significant sum to Surfers Against Sewage and other environmental causes - your help in spreading the word amongst your friends really does make a difference (and then you get to compare which five Sea Soul Blessings cards you get too!). Thank you so much.
You can find all the info at www.seasoulblessings.com/bigsea. To enter, all you need to do is send me a photo or film of the sea, and sign up for the Sea Soul Blessings newsletter, and you will get some extra encouragement to pause, tend to yourself with self compassion, and draw strength for that journey up the mountain…
And now, before we go, take a moment to pause, and notice the mountains you've climbed already today. Where could you offer yourself some ease right now? What could you do to strengthen yourself and your ability to manage the inevitable change? Take a little moment to do that for yourself right now.
Thank you for being the utterly awesome, love-filled, knackered but still here, doing your best and learning from the mess, invaluable mother that you are every day.
Pippa and Penny
PS Join us on Wednesday 13 November for our next online #somum Mamas' Retreat party in Mamas' Everyday Retreat...
PPS Please come and enter the Big Sea Giveaway, and share it with your friends at www.seasoulblessings.com/bigsea
May you find ease
To stretch out by a tranquil sea is to know ease. To swim with the current rather than against, to trust the waves to push you lightly towards land, to know enough to rest and release, to breathe into tranquillity.
May you be guided by simplicity. May you savour serenity. May your journey flow smoothly. May you allow yourself to unfurl.
Find more Sea Soul Blessings at www.seasoulblessings.com
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Day Retreat: Beautiful Bold Beginnings: Join us in Penzance on Saturday 18 January 2020. Welcome the new year and all its beautiful bold beginnings, with a group of inspiring and supportive women.
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