"The only thing you are supposed to do is to live a wholehearted life. Whatever you do: do it wholeheartedly. Whatever you want to be: be it wholeheartedly."
You Are Enough
Guest post by Melissa Robbins // My name is Melissa. I'm a human, wife, mother, personal trainer and life coach. I'm just trying to make the world a little better, happier and healthier.
I told my crying, overtired baby that I wasn't a great mom today but tomorrow I'll be better.
It was a "shot day" for my 15 month old son, so off to the doctor we went. Afterwards we dropped him off at his grandparents like we do every Tuesday. When I picked him up that afternoon I was thinking that I really needed to give him some one-on-one attention ... then I got an email for a last minute webinar so I watched it while he played. I put him in his high chair, fed him dinner and took a call from a friend I wanted to catch up with. Before I knew it he was having to visibly show me it was time for him to go to bed. Most days I'm patient and attentive but on this day I told my crying, overtired baby that I wasn't a great mom today but I'd be better tomorrow. And you know what, I'm still a great mom. I'm still enough.
I don't doubt myself. Do I think I do everything perfectly? No, not even close. But that's not what I think makes a great mom, or a great anything for that matter.
I don't know the true definition of perfection but I do know what it is not. Perfectionism is NOT the same thing as striving to do your best and it is NOT self-improvement. Perfectionism is really just the quickest path to anxiety, depression and life paralysis. I struggle a bit (or a lot) with bouts of depression in the winter. And typically by February I'm really having to work hard to keep myself peaceful and healthy, so this winter I've found my cure... I'm still running and walking outside even though I don't like the cold. And here is the best part, it was doctor prescribed!
To equip the stroller for these winter excursions I've got all the goods: a wool seat cover to keep him nice and toasty, all the winter clothing he can fit, and even a weather shield to encompass the entire stroller. Someone actually scolded me for taking my child out in the cold for my own selfish reasons. For the record, not one part of his body was bothered by the cold. In fact, when I took him out of the stroller his back was sweaty. This exchange did not for one second make me question my parenting. It did, however, make me question our society.
We live in a society that has a really, really long list of unwritten rules. Bylaws that we live by because we are "supposed" to. The way you are supposed to live, work, look, be and the things you are supposed to have. What are the consequences of breaking those rules... nothing.
We are paralyzed by the fear that everyone else may not approve. We're missing the mark. In my opinion (and I think it's a good one) the only thing you are supposed to do is to live a wholehearted life. Whatever you do: do it wholeheartedly. Whatever you want to be: be it wholeheartedly. In the spirit of this holiday season I urge you to take a vow with me. Vow to give up the ever illusive perfect life and start living wholeheartedly. I promise you that I will always support you in that. There will be days that you did it all really, really well and then there will be days that you put your crying, overtired baby to bed and tell him you weren't a great parent today but tomorrow you'll do better. And you'll still be great.
You'll still be enough.
Sweat & Smiles,
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Ahh, summer! A time for sunscreen, barbecues, pool trips, and toes in the sand. And books. Don't forget the books. What's summer without a reading list?
Here's my list (so far):
1. Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay
Why am I reading this: I like unusual books, and this one is written as a series of letters from an aspiring writer who has a serious book obsession.
2. ToddlerCalm: A Guide for Calmer Toddlers & Happier Parents by Sarah Ockwell-Smith
Why am I reading this? Because of this line right here: "It may be hard to parent a toddler, but it is so much harder to be a toddler." Part of the journey of life requires us to walk in other people's shoes (ie empathy) but we often forget to walk in the littlest shoes. I'm on a mission to make sure I'm doing the best job I can as a mama, and to me, that means always working on being better. "Better" is not an endpoint, but a continual journey as I learn to love and raise my boys better and better each day.
3. The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith
Why am I reading this? Well, I've opened this one yet. It's in my kindle so I know it's coming soon, and I cannot wait. I read The Cuckoo's Calling, the first of the Cormoran Strike series, and was mesmerized. The Silkworm is the next in this series.
4.The Paris Wife by Paula McClain - Again, this book is loaded in my kindle but not yet started.
This book is about the love between Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Hadley. It won the GoodChoice awards for historical fiction, and I just so happen to love historical fiction so I am excited to read this.
I just know this list will triple in length by the end of the summer!
What books are on your "to read" list? Comment below, I'd love to hear from you!
"Mama, will you play with me? Mama, stop typing. Please play sand with me."
Those sweet little words from a three year old revolutionized the way I view time. What am I doing with each second? I'm certainly not living in each moment the way a child does. He lives in each moment with reckless abandon; after all, the present moment is all he experiences. Children live in the present, the here and now.
His words made me stop. I froze. I thought about time and the way I use it. I want to be more like him.
It's one of the very few things that money cannot buy. You can't hurry it up, slow it up, get rid of it, or get more of it.
But you can waste it, squander it, cherish it, savor it, soak it in. You care in control of how you use it.
You cannot ignore time; our lives are set by it. We awake each day by a clock; a clock dictates our work day, our eating schedules; we make plans with a clock at the center. "I'll meet you at 6 at the pub." "Your doctor appointment is scheduled for 10:30 am." The clock rules our lives.
But only if you let it.
Why not... try something different. What if YOU controlled the clock? What if you told the clock how it would work for you, not the other way around? How, you say?
By never wasting one second. Time cannot be your enemy when it is your friend. And it all starts with a simple mind set change. Rather, than see time as a cruel master driving our day, what if you looked at time as a gift. A beautiful wonderful gift from God. And beautiful wonderful gifts are not enemies; we cherish those gifts and make sure no harm comes to them. The same goes for time.
It is a gift.
Last night when I got home, my sweet boy ran up to the door and said "Mama, I was hungry so I made a snack, and I wanted to play so I got out the playdough all by myself." He was SO proud of himself. Even though his "snack" was 6 brownies and his activity of choice invloved playdough bits everywhere, I was so proud of how independent and smart he is. The look on his face was priceless. I could've chosen to be mad about the fact he ate his weight in brownies and made a huge mess, but I used the moment to let him know how proud I am of how big he's getting and how sweet and smart and kind he is.
A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a poem called "Dust If You Must" by Rose Milligan, which was published in 1998 in UK's magazine The Lady. Most of us mamas have heard the sweeter poem about how "dusting can wait because I'm putting my baby to sleep." However, Milligan's poem is much darker. But it struck me. Shook me, even. Milligan's simple little poem has been creeping into my mothering.
It's not just about mothering however. It's about life. What do we do with each moment? Do we take it for granted? No matter how big or how small each moment might seem, let us encounter each moment with the spirit of a child. Live. Really live in each moment.
Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
To paint a picture or write a letter,
Bake a cake or plant a seed,
Ponder the difference between want and need?
Dust if you must, but there's not much time,
With rivers to swim and mountains to climb,
Music to hear, and books to read,
Friends to cherish and life to lead.
Dust if you must, but the world’s out there,
With the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,
A flutter of snow, a shower of rain.
This day will not come round again.
Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
Old age will come and it’s not kind.
And when you go - and go you must -
You, yourself, will make more dust.
You’re who I want to be. Every day I get the chance to be you. Every day I get the chance to be the most involved mama, the most gentle and loving mama who doesn’t yell or lose patience. Every day I get the chance to make gourmet meals, invent the most fun, educational games, and clean the house with the enthusiasm of Snow White and her forest friends.
But every day I fall short on one of those dreams. My house is clean and the kids are bored. The house is a disaster zone and the kids are happy. Amazing homemade food and DIY house products are whipped up, but then kitchen is a mess. I wish I could have it all. But in life, I realize, no one can have it all. Our time is so limited and just by the nature of choosing one activity, we are simultaneously choosing not to do something else. Seems obvious. But when you try to balance it all… it frequently leaves me feeling like a failure. The thing is, I’m not a failure. Nobody is making cook each meal from scratch and clean the house top to bottom and homeschool our kids and and and and. No body…except me. So how about I get my crap together and stop blaming myself for not accomplishing the impossible and focus on the possible? How about I set reasonable goals and stop obsessing over it all? How about I just enjoy the time I have with my kids while they are still “kids” and let the dust stare at me.
I now think that “having it together” is a frame of mind. Is my mind a peaceful place? Not when I obsess over what I cannot do in one day. I’m going to get my thoughts together and be a happy mama.
Because that’s who I want to be: the happy, joyful, carefree Mama that I know is inside of me.
I've started and stopped this letter more times than I care to count.
Sometimes I miss the old me. I'm still obviously me, but I miss aspects of the old me. I know I've changed. People change. People grow up and mature, at least, they should mature. But that's another topic.
If I'm being honest, then I must say that I miss the carefree version of me before I had children. I miss not having to worry so much. Having kids changes you. That's hardly a new revelation. Everyone knows that. It changes everything: your body, your mind, your emotions, everything.
As a mama, it's all too easy for my mind to go to a dark place. When I listen to the news or read a story in the paper, I think in terms of "someone's baby." "Someone's baby" got in an accident or "someone's baby" did this or did that. People are not just people anymore. People from here on out are just someone's baby. That's it. At some point everyone on the planet was a just a crying baby in need of some lovin'. And for me... that was the end of a carefree existence. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. It just is the way it is now. It does open up new ways of thinking: empathy. Motherhood (and fatherhood) rips open your heart and makes you vulnerable in a way that cannot really be described. It's more than wearing your heart on your sleeve... it is ripping open your heart itself. What is love if not to be made vulnerable to pain or to sadness. Exposure and allowing yourself to be vulnerable is a true sign of love. If you're not willing to be open to being hurt, it's not love. (I do not imply physical abuse, if you or someone you know need help, go here.) Think about it... a baby cannot be born without pain. Even growing old with someone has the risk of pain of losing the other through death, even at the end of a long happy life. Love cannot happen without the openness to being hurt, because if we really love something, we are putting ourselves in the way to be hurt. But life without love, is sad and lonely. Love is worth the pain and sorrow that it's absence may cause us. Yes, that is it. Love does not hurt us. It is the threat of losing love that will hurt us.
But sometimes I miss being carefree. Having the weight of (someone's) world on your shoulders is a responsibility indeed, and it shouldn't be done lightly.
This was deep and real and raw. This is the reason I've started and stopped this letter so many times.
I cannot go back. I have opened myself up to unconditional love. It's scary. But I'd do it all over again.
Thought of the day: motherhood makes you more human. Caring for a little one allows you to truly love another unconditionally and selflessly.
Little man has a cold and I wish I could have it instead of him. My mama used to say that when I was sick but I never truly understood it until now. Real love is so very different from what the movies and tv show. Real love is sacrifice driven by the desire to will the good of another. You often hear of a "mother's love" but I never really got it until now.
Oh, how I love my little man.
Dear Grandma & Mum,
You were both such a huge part of my childhood, which helped shape me into who I am today. Even after you both died, you still helped to shape and guide me. I don’t know how to explain it…. But Mum, after you left, I would think “Would Mum like this type of music? What would Mum think if she saw me doing this?” So, in that way, thank you for being such important influences in my life. I wish I could bring Dana over to your houses for dinners. Dinner at your houses were both so different, but that odd mixture is who I am.
I hope you are up in Heaven, finally at true peace, watching over all of us.
I love you both.
I never saw your first smile or heard you take your first breath, but I held you inside of me. I never got to see your face with ice cream dripping down your chin, but I fed you life from inside.
I know you're in Heaven watching down on us. But sometimes my mind gets a little trippy when I think about that if you were here, your little brother wouldn't be. Did you have to go to make way for him? What does that say about your life ... or his?
We love you so much, my sweet baby. And one day in Heaven, I'll receive the gift of seeing your beautiful face.
Dear Internet Friend,
We "met" in an online group dedicated to our due dates. For nine months we were virtual buddies going through the crazy rollercoaster of pregnancy. We shared many "Is this normal" questions or "what should I do if" scenarios. It's funny how close you can get to someone you've never met. We were bonded by our callings to become mothers, a special sisterhood. Now our "babies" are actually more toddlers and our daily communications have dramatically slowed down, but I want to thank you for the support during one of lives most special (yet terrifying) times. The horrible morning sickness was slightly easier to get through knowing it was normal and somewhere was another mama going through the same thing. Misery loves company? Yes. But I believe it's more than that. Motherhood is the point of entry into a very sacred sisterhood, and finding those sisters is very special indeed. It's like finding someone who not only can sympathize but can empathize, and that is a very big distinction.
I hope you and your bundle of joy are doing well.
No mama likes when their baby is sick. But every mama likes to have an arsenal of tools and tricks to help make baby feel better. Of course, there are the tools to help with the physical pain: pain medications, saline spray, humidifiers, etc. But what about the emotional pains of being sick? Two of my go-to's for healing emotional pain during an illness is breastfeeding and babywearing.
Babywearing to the rescue! When my youngest developed an ear infection, nothing made him happy. His favorite toys? Nope. Favorite snack? Nada. He only wanted me. As soon as I popped in my carrier, he was content. His ear infection obviously wasn't cured by babywearing, but his emotional needs were met. Once his love tanked was filled up with the closeness he desired, he could rest easier knowing Mama was close. And that rest is what he needed to fight the bug... that and some medicine.
Wife & Mama with a passion for peaceful parenting, natural living, homeschooling... and my daily café au lait.