How many times, as Momma Bear, as Papa Bear have you put your needs to the side? Dropped your needs over by the “side board of lost intentions” only to be remembered as you fall into bed, or as you sit on the loo with an audience complaining about being hungry, bored, tired or sore. How many times have you thought, yep I feel hungry, bored, tired and sore too, only for the thought to quickly evaporate as their needs outweigh yours? I wrote an article recently for the Irish Examiner about being an introverted mother and since writing this feature, I’ve relaxed a bit more and allow myself those five, ten, fifteen minutes – if I can get it – to regroup, refocus, to be still and recover from the never-ending exhaustion of a day with kids.
I’ve spouted the term mindfulness about throughout my posts recently without really telling you what it is or how to concentrate on it. I’m obviously no expert having only come across the term less than a year ago but I’ve found it be the best thing, or rather, concept if you will, that has eased me back into real life without panic or stress. Being a Momma Bear who is also a Working Bear has had some pretty hefty challenges which could have easily knocked me downwards if I let it. But mindfulness has kept me focused in a way that calms my mind to the storm that often swells up around me.
I’ve had some incredibly mixed emotions lately. Little Bean is almost one and I can’t help but think back over the year it’s been. It’s been good but it’s also been bad. And those bad days are standing out more. But I am ending today focusing on Little Bean and her big sister because while the year has been a challenge, guess what, we got through it.
It’s been almost two months since my anxiety “blip” which left me floored for two weeks with intense frustration, anger and anxiety that I lost control of. I wrote a letter to my Fricking Flamingo and kicked it out of the door. Before this blip I thought I was ok, in the safe zone, and had let life jump back on board making me forget about the ways I manage my anxiety.
Or rather, getting enough sleep and staying hydrated is pretty much the best any parent can hope to achieve. I have to admit, and I should be embarrassed as I say it, but my health is not at the top of my agenda. Since quitting my job and having two kids run rings around me, earning money and putting clothes on their bums is what keeps me going. So writing is my wealth but with that stupid attitude my health has taken a nose dive. Stress, anxiety, yada, yada, yada, we all know the drill. But to be good to my kids, I have to be good to myself.
I remember when I was on maternity leave with Little Miss, I felt very out of the loop with colleagues and friends. I was taking the standard 26 weeks maternity leave, which in itself is an incredibly short time. I would be back to work in, what now feels like, an instant. But for those five or six months with little contact from colleagues, I felt very isolated from work and it was odd heading in on that first day back. There was a sense of unnerving questions despite being excited to get back into the fold. Was I missed? Have things changed much? Can I still cope with the workload? Now that I’m not going back at all, feeling out of the loop is an understatement. I feel kind of blurred, like a nomad, forced to find my own way and a new center. And being dependent on myself to provide that centre is even more daunting.
I almost called this The Isolation of Motherhood as I’m in the thick of being a Stay at Home Mum on maternity leave but I’ve gotten to know so many Stay at Home Dads the last year through blogging and friends, so I’m being politically correct with my title. I wrote a post last year about the loneliness of parenthood which was about how your relationship can change when kids come along. I didn’t think I’d write about how lonely being a Stay at Home parent would be because I’ve read so much about it, I swore I wouldn’t let the isolation get to me. But it does. And I do wonder if dads feel the same.
I’ll be honest I’m glad to see the back of 2017. In a year when I should have been ecstatic at the fact that our baby was born without any issues, I was a mess. There’s no nicer way to say it really. I struggled for months with postnatal anxiety and I’m still not over the final hurdle. There are days that are tough but I’m managing a million times better than I was a few months ago. Even so, I’m starting this year with a particular mindframe that is going to keep me balanced and in control. I’m finding the positive again and I’m living to my full potential. Or at least trying.