One thing I am learning and becoming all too aware of as my daughter grows is that motherhood is messy. It’s messy in a literal, physical sense where there are always sticky hand prints around, or toys in the wrong places, or mud trekked in through the house via the soles of little shoes. I am ok with that side of messy. Yeah, I have to clean up the same thing a gazillion times, but still, I can cope with that.
There’s the other side of motherhood that’s messy though and not so easily cleaned up-the emotional side. Ever get those days when everyone just falls apart? Voices rise, tears fall, harsh words come gushing out, doors slam. The mess is nasty, and hard to sort through. It puts cracks in relationships, builds barriers and everything is stressful.
We have had so many of these messy days lately. Developmental changes have brought new challenges for both of us as we try and figure out how to live harmoniously with each other, with our needs and our personalities. Miss E has been fashioned by God’s good hand into a very independent and strong character. All the qualities that are such a difficulty for me right now as her mother, will, one day, stand her in good stead as she ventures off into the world alone. But it’s getting from here to that point that is proving difficult. It’s a fine balancing act and a skilled dance as we figure this whole thing out together, and often we get it all wrong. We fail to understand each other. We fail to communicate with each other in loving ways. We fail to choose loving reactions. Yesterday was one such messy day.
On these messy days, I am thankful for two gifts: GRACE. Grace to try again. Grace to start anew. Grace to change. Rich, abundant grace. Where would we be without it? NATURE. Our happy place. A therapy for the soul. A place we can go together to ease the stresses and rediscover our way on this journey. There is colour therapy given via the flowers and the greenery, music therapy from bird song, the wind, water passing by, raindrops falling. There is peace, time to reflect, time to reconnect. Grace and nature: our balm to soothe away the strife. How do you cope with the messy days of parenting? How do you reconnect with your child?
Being a parent is one of the hardest things you will ever do, but, in exchange, it teaches you the meaning of unconditional life.
Recently, I have been doing a lot of soul searching, a lot of praying. There have been some areas of our relationship that could be better, areas of your behaviour that seem to have been getting progressively worse, and I had no answers as to how to fix them. There is only one thing to do in such situations and that is to pray for wisdom and understanding. I realised in these times, that my behaviour and feelings have a huge effect on you. I learned that I should first look inward to see if there is anything I need to change before expecting you to change or thinking the issues we are facing are in anyway separated from me. And as I looked inward I saw a lot of stuff that needed to be cleansed from my life, dealt with and shipped out of there. I saw a woman who was filled with resentment for the terrible pregnancy and the fact it so impeded me from bonding with you, resentment for the ill health for months after that stopped me from doing much more than feeding you and caring for your basic needs again hindering bonding, resentment for the fact that just when it looked like your daddy and me were getting a break from all the stress we had gone through from the start of our marriage and could look at reconnecting the pregnancy came and took that away.
I love you with all my heart, I truly do. There was, however, this huge wall to break down. Now that I have faced the problem and am tackling it, our days are much smoother, and that crazy behaviour you have always displayed that drove me near insanity? It’s pretty much gone 🙂 Amazing, huh? I am so so sorry it has taken me 15 months to sort myself out in the inner self. I am sorry this resentment has lived in there further blocking us from having a free and open relationship. I am sorry you have missed out on so much due to the fact I have been so ill. I am sorry that we did not get to connect while you were on the inside. I will never understand why things were how they were, but I cannot change the past. All I can do is ensure the present and future are beautiful as possible. I can leave that past hurt, frustration and resentment behind, walking through the door that leads us into a more loving, gentler way of being together.
Please forgive me for my shortcomings as a woman and as your mother. Please forgive me for the frustration I threw your way due to the fact I had not taken a long hard look inside my own heart and soul. Please forgive me.
I love you, little one. I am thankful for the gift of you in my life. I am thankful for the changes your presence has caused. I am thankful for your love for me. I am thankful for the lessons you teach me, and I will strive all my days to be a better mother for you.
All my love and sincere apologies,
We cannot train our babies not to need us. Whether it’s the middle of the day or the middle of the night, their needs are real and valid, including the simple need for human touch. A ‘trained’ baby may give up on his needs being met, but the need is still there, just not the trust.
Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.
For her birthday, one of Miss E’s little friends got her a Suttons grow your own sunflowers set (Not entirely sure that was the correct name!). We planted the sunflower seeds in the pot and followed the instructions. Eleven grew, and, as happens with sunflowers, very quickly needed new homes. My husband and I aren’t very good at following through with tasks like repotting plants and often things die. And, for a while, it looked like these sunflwoers might be facing the same fate. I was determined they wouldn’t and finally we remembered to get compost and pots.
I could have done the task while Miss E was having a nap, and it would have been quicker and cleaner, but they are her sunflowers, and I wanted her to have the experience and start learning about plants and caring for them.
checking out the flower pots
Miss E took this taskvery seriously indeed. She is currently developing her skills of transferring objects from one container to another, and so this gave her the opportunity to transfer to her heart’s content. She was very serious and engrossed throughout apart from when we were patting the compost down around the sunflowers after placing them in their homes. Then sh ewould break out into giggles and pat down the soil with a “bat, bat, bat!”
Miss E did need a change of clothes at the end of us as the compost clung to her and my kitchen floor needed sweeping, but the sunflowers got repotted, and we had a lovely time together.
Hello Dearest One,
Today it has been one whole week since you went into your own room. Until then you have slept with your cot right up to our bed with the panel off to make it an extension of our bed. You let us know you were ready for your own space, so last Sunday we moved your bed into the bedroom that has been waiting for you since before you were born. Instead of a cot you are in a big girl bed. You have a cotbed, so we took all the sides off and put the mattress on the lowest bed setting. Why? Well, firstly, we want you to be free-free to make you own choice about being in your bed or not. We do not want to trap you in a prison where you must stay until we come and get your, scream for our attention or find some other way of getting out, which you are very capable of! This way, should you wake up and want to be out of bed you can slide out quite easily and play with something, and you can crawl back in if you wish as well. Secondly, for safety, we cannot be with you 24/7, and you like to climb, you have already climbed out of your cot when it was a bed extension, and that once you were ok, but next time you may not be. Next time, you may sustain injury to your head or neck from the fall. So, this way you are at a safe height to the floor with no dangerous falls to be had when unsupervised.
I wondered how you would take to your new surroundings even though you made it clear you were ready. I should have known you would be fine! You love it. You love your little bed, you love your room, you love being able to use the headboard to stand up and dance on your bed and flop back down again. You have used your spatial awareness to figure out where the mattress ends and the floor begins and you no longer get so close to the edge that part of you is dangling off. Since moving into your new room it would seem you also think you are too grown up for daytime naps! You have shunned these for a whole week in favour of a super early bedtime! You used to go to bed between 5:30-6:30pm; now you ask to go to bed between 4-4:30pm! This leaves me wandering around the house feeling a little lost til Daddy returns from work.
I am excited to support you in this latest step towards your full independence, but I miss you. I miss coming to bed and seeing your little self curled up beside my side of the bed. I miss hearing your sleepy breathing as I get ready for bed. I miss waking up to your cute smile as you lift your head off the mattress. It’s joy and sadness rolled into one. Don’t grow up too fast baby girl. Slow down a little and let me catch my breath and savour the moments before you take off again on your next adventure.
With All My Heart,