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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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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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mother-didnt-breastfeed

A lot of things failed to go to plan in the weeks surrounding my son Jackson’s entry into the world.

I hoped to go into labour at 41 weeks. Yes, I actually hoped to go past term, purely because we needed that time for our nursery renovation.

I hoped for a birth story like all my friends’: the requisite number of hours of labour, an epidural at just the right moment, and a modest amount of pushing, with little to no tearing, thank you very much.

I hoped to shed a few tears. I hoped for immediate skin-to-skin contact, for a photo of our new family of 3 mere seconds after baby’s first breath of air.

I hoped to breastfeed.

What I got was far beyond what I ever could have predicted.

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parenting-change

I turn on my phone and I read about Charlottesville, about atrocities around the world… I feel helpless. What can this person that I am do to ignite change and inspire love? What difference can I make to the world? I’ve not got substantial amounts of money to donate, or time to give or even much of a sphere of influence. I read, I cry and I pray but as a person of faith I believe I am also called to action. As a builder of community and kingdom, I believe that whatever it is I can do, I need to do. Thus, I need to take stock of what I can do, and at first, it doesn’t seem like much. As Arthur Ashe’s well known quote is drummed into my memory, “Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can”, I go ahead and make a list.

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fierce-battle

I have seen mothers at their best, and I have seen mothers at their worst.

At our best, mothers unite. We fight for each others’ rights, each others’ kids, each others’ protection, each others’ security. When a fellow mother is worried, we soothe. When a fellow mother is uncertain, we guide. When a fellow mother is about to break from the pressure of it all, we support.

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thanks-wallpaper-grateful

Our little family is moving house in the near future. There are pros and cons to this, most of which I’ll not be aware of until moving time comes. I don’t know where we’ll be next, but the change in itself is inevitable. And because things will change I’ve been trying to be intentionally mindful and appreciative of the things I enjoy about where we are now – friends and family that live close; great local parks; a bath tub; our most excellent housemate and his most excellent dog; a lovely kitchen with a dishwasher and a matching cutlery set owned by said excellent housemate; and did I mention the bath?

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ponderings-stillness

I am currently sitting in my almost one-year old son’s room, curled up on his rocking chair, with his heater powering through the cold chill in the air. His breathing gently breaks into a weirdly adorable child-snore every six or seven breaths; he mumbles gibberish in his dreaming, while reaching out a sleeping hand to fumble for his dummy in the dark. The same piano gospel lullabies he’s listened to every night since birth are chiming gently through the spluttering of the warm vaporiser, while traffic rumbles around on one of the main roads in what seems like a million miles from the stillness here.

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water-hands-control

Recently my son Jackson and I were taking advantage of an unseasonally warm Sunday afternoon with one of his favourite activities; water play in the backyard. I watched, bemused, as he entertained himself with endless pouring from cup to bucket to water table, then back up into the cup to continue the cycle. The water mesmerizes him. He can play with water for hours, soaking himself from head to toe until he begins to shiver violently, and even then he screams in protest when I bundle him up in a soft towel and carry him inside to recover in a warm bath.

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motherhood-who-i-am

Motherhood for me was a re-birthing into a self and a world that I couldn’t have predicted.

It is a world where everything has added significance, an importance beyond the immediate. I feel the weight of my mistakes heavier but the joys lift me higher than ever before. Even my skillset; that that in which I am strong I become stronger and that that in which I am weak becomes blaringly obvious.

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