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Personal Development

at-home-role

In my household we’ve undergone a change in our previous roles.

At this point my husband’s main duty is to be the stay-at-home parent. My main duty is being the full-time student or as I’ve been treating it, the away-parent.

NGL, I totally struggled with this. My husband had completed a lengthy and arduous degree and had been applying for work to no avail. It felt right to be ‘my turn’ to dip into some studies. To indulge in some learning and career interests of my own. I thought this would be a welcome relief.

However, I continued to carry the mental load.

Well, still continue. I struggle not to think about the things the kids need to get done after school, what needs to be done at home, which social events are forthcoming with preparations needed, and things the kids are going through that I want to check up on.

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emotions-parenting

She collapses in my arms, a mess of tears and pent up emotion.

I hug her hard and let her know she is okay. As she settles and slows her breathing, I ask her how she is feeling. She looks at me with wet cheeks and glistening eyes, “I’m not sure Mum, can we get the chart from the fridge?”

I am the mother of two girls, which means our household experiences a lot of emotions. There is joy and there is sadness, there is frustration and there is disappointment. We have made it very explicit in our family how much we value emotions. For being able to feel something, to know what you’re feeling and to name, it is an important skill in life.

Author and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown tells us, “When we are in pain and fear, anger and hate are our go-to emotions.”

We understand this in our family. That anger, and harsh words are often due to another emotion under the surface. So, we have a chart on the fridge that helps our girls to dig below their anger and actually name the emotion that is fuelling it.

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lifestyle-undesigned

Have you heard of the concept ‘lifestyle design’?

It’s this idea that a person can take control of and design their own lifestyle, a concept that is supposed to have garnered a lot of interest due to an inspirational book ‘Four Hour Work Week’ by Tim Ferriss. Basically, the idea that you can change how you think and what you do in your lifestyle in order to find fulfilment in your routine and way of life.

When I heard this, I thought as parents, we had no such luxury available to us.

Our lives, whether intended or not, will revolve to some extent around our children.

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phone-camera-photos

Recently I saw a television show where people called in experts to help with their hoarding problems.

I watched with a dropped jaw as they revealed room after room full to the brim with STUFF. Things they have grown attached to, things they can’t let go of. The root of their hoarding sounded like fear talking: “What if I need it again someday? What if I miss it when it’s gone?”

I have never seen myself as a hoarder. Go through the photos on my computer though and my little “hoarding” problem quickly shows up. Two weeks ago, I started creating a photo book of our 2017 and it proved to be a painstaking process to go through all the photos of last year and select only a few to display. Along the way an all-too-familiar pattern emerged as well. Less than happy faces, fake smiles and 7 photos of nearly the same thing, all taken in an attempt to get the best one. My memories were clouded. Instead of remembering the happiness, I remembered the effort it took to get that one perfect shot. I started thinking that maybe I want to start having happy moments in real life instead of fake happy memories to refer to one day.

I realised too that I watched so many of my children’s big moments i.e. running races and winning awards happen through the lens of a camera and in the process completely missed the utter joy and pride in their faces. And this saddens me a bit.

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choosing-love

I sat there trying to process what I’d just heard.

Everyone was standing, singing, but my legs wouldn’t carry me.

“Everything is either love, or fear of loss” he had said. Wow. Never had I heard all of life explained quite so simply before. Never had I realized every decision and emotion in my past had been motivated either by fear or love.

We don’t often have guest speakers at our church, and I am so glad Ted Dekker was invited that morning. He had such a shocking perspective on life, that just made so much sense. It was both new and 2,000 years old, like climbing into teachings I had heard a thousand times before yet hearing them for the first time.

As Ted was telling stories, I couldn’t help thinking about my everyday decisions, and emotions:

In the morning, I rush my children and I feel stressed. Why? Because I don’t want them to be late for school. I’m afraid they will be late for school. And I don’t want them to become adults who are late all the time.

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730

Age is not so much a number as it is a state.

5 is a state. When you are a 5 year old kid, you are in a certain situation, in mind, body, circumstances.

You are short and live with parents, you express yourself well and mostly about things that seems trivial to adults -occasionally asking far too complex questions. At 5 you get dressed and undressed by yourself and use the restroom, you can write some letters and numbers, and your day is centered around play and chores.

17. What picture is created in your mind?

Probably you at that age, or your friends. Scruffy teen, emotions controlled by a tornado of hormones, erratic actions, desperate to belong, feeling invincible. Ring a bell? No clear plans for the future yet, but probably lots of dreams and a vague timeline on when big events will happen.

40. What is that to you?

A mature, wise, accomplished person? A few wrinkles, a solid career peppered with promotions and advancements along the way, maybe grown children, someone without insecurities and ready to dish out sound advice to anyone who asks.

I believe the issue most of us have with ageing is the idea we have of it in our minds, and where on the line of life we should be when a specific number rolls around.

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crying-babies-cry-heaven

Flying across an ocean is a great equalizer.

Everyone is uncomfortable. No one can really sleep despite their body’s cry for rest. The food leaves everyone feeling hungry but also, without desire to eat what is handed to them. And, at the end, we all walk away feeling dirty for no particular reason other than the air which leaves us all inexplicably musty. 

But what I find most interesting about these flights, is the way people interact with the little ones around them. 

I have never flown across an ocean with a small child, but I have many friends who have done it alone; going to or from visiting a deployed military spouse. And I applaud them.
I applaud them because it takes courage to walk down an aisle with a rambunctious toddler and face glaring eyes, annoyed by simply the presence of a child.

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embracing-mediocre

My Instagram feed is like my wardrobe – eclectic.

There’s no one particular theme to the accounts I follow. I tend to gravitate to those whose creativity, or style, or perspective, or habits, or environment, or language inspire me.

Then there are the simpler accounts, casual personal accounts like my own, owned by wonderfully mediocre women like myself. Who take the photos with their phones, some snaps blurrier than others and the kids are usually dressed by themselves and not a sponsor* (*If you’re a brand who sends clothes to InstaMums for features– holler, my kids are size 3, 7 & 8).

These unprofessional, personal, heartfelt accounts, I think, are imperative to my Instacommunity.

They remind me of games I might like to play with my children again, or a beach I haven’t visited in a while, or give me insight into what a Northern hemisphere Christmas must be like. They also aren’t polished to the point where I wish my life or house or kid’s wardrobe was more like theirs. Their spaces and days are similar enough to my own. It’s a little bit of ordinary that I need to see, so that I do not get trapped in the habit of comparison. As I frequently tell my children, “comparison is the thief of joy” (Thanks Theodore Roosevelt).

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new-years-resolutions

If I had to confess my true gifting in life, it would be writing lists.

Writing lists is my forte, my jam, my favourite thing. If I could create a list that starts with, “write a list”, then cross it off, my life would be complete.

Every year, as far back as I can remember, I write a New Year, New Me-style list that exceeds all hopes and expectations. It’s the usual suspects; every year I aim to be thinner, more fit, more organised, speak a new language, stick to a budget, read 145 literature books, travel to 27 countries, drink 30L of green smoothie every day and teach my dog how to speak Spanish.

What I don’t love, and is not my gifting, is the hard work that it takes to make those resolutions…resolute.

I love being thin, but mate, I love doughnuts. I want to stick to a budget, but Kitchen Warehouse is having a sale. I want to get fit, but it’s too hot to walk today. I want to travel, but I just spent all of my money at Kitchen Warehouse.

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motherhood-pride

About 18 months ago, I was tagged in a Facebook post to participate in the “motherhood dare.”

You know the one: someone dares you to post one photo that makes you proud to be a mother.

I struggled with this. I flipped through the photos on my phone, but felt that none of them reflected pride. You see, it didn’t matter how cute the photo seemed, I remembered what happened behind the scenes just before or after it was taken. The tantrum or the complaint or some form of defiance from (mostly) one of them and the way I reacted to it.

I had to admit to myself that I wasn’t particularly enjoying motherhood at that stage and definitely did not feel proud.

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