I have been in bed sick for a few days - since Mother's Day actually. Hence, no Featured Thursdays today on account of being tucked up in bed for half of the week. It wasn't a bad virus at all (nothing of the projectile kind thank god) - just a sleepy, dizzy kind of thing that kept me off my feet. It did not stop the toddler from body-slamming me every time I managed to drop off to sleep however! There's no sympathy or understanding from that age group!
I have been pondering a few thoughts while I was bed-bound with so much time on my hands. What else was there to do really?
In particular, I've been thinking on those things that I have learned as a Mum in my time. I don't often get a chance to mull things over for myself - I really don't. As I sit typing this, there is now a mountain of housework facing me in the wake of my illness and I am going to ignore it all for the time being. (And good on me too!) That's my life though really - mountains of work and not much 'me time.' I know we're all the same.
Anyhow, I thought it might be fun to itemise an A-Z of my own Mothering life lessons and mantras; a small glimpse of the things I have learned and continue to learn, through the blood, sweat and tears (as well as joy and happiness), that is buried beneath this busy role known as Motherhood.
A is for Ask: One of the hardest things I ever had to do, was learn to surrender myself over to the huge responsibilities of Motherhood. Following the difficult birth of my first Daughter, I was in no state to tackle the duties before us both. For the first time in my life, I had to ask for help from those around me. It was a huge moment for me and a poignant life lesson. From this I learned that people are only too willing to help out and that I would not fall apart or suffer a shocking personal fail for asking, needing or wanting the assistance of others.
If this is you now - drop your 'pride' guard and send out the distress signals to others. You will be so surprised by the love and assistance that comes your way.
B is for Be Strong: Motherhood can be a tough and sometimes lonely journey. If you feel overwhelmed by your circumstances or responsibilities, seek the help you need and the sooner the better.
C is for Confidence: One of my favourite sayings is 'Fake it until you make it' and it's one that has served me well throughout life, Motherhood included. Don't be afraid to try out new things or take that first step towards something that makes you falter or feel afraid. After a while, you grow and discover that you can do the things that make you feel fearful initially. Be a leader even if you don't feel up to the challenge and one day you may discover that you have become one yourself.
D is for Don't Stop Doing the Things you Love: Being happy in life is all about doing whatever you feel is the path for you and managing to stay on it. Parenting might give you a wobbly way around this path but don't let it be an excuse for dropping your dreams altogether and choosing a less than fabulous, alternative route.
E is for Energy: Without health, you can't look after yourself and you can't look after your family. Thank you recent illness for again reminding me that sometimes I should slow down and remember that!
F is for Fun: Fun is an integral part of Motherhood and parenting. Having said that, I have known plenty of Mums in my time who are not having much fun at all. Look after you first and your kids will benefit. Make sure you take the time out to have fun with your kids. Childhood is short so jump in and enjoy these precious years before they've moved on without you.
G is for Guilt: Motherhood and guilt are intertwined and there's really no escaping that fact. Try not to let it creep up on you as best you can. Don't compare yourself, don't judge yourself and don't be harsh on yourself. We're only human after all.
H is for Homelife: Make it a happy one and one fit for memories. Keep alive, or start your own family traditions. Something as simple as a favourite cake that you bake regularly can mean so much to your child both now and in the future. Make sure you are making memories that will be cherished throughout their lives. Remember your Grandmother's home cooking as a child? Yes, that!
I is for Interests: Keep yours alive! If you like gardening, reading, walking, shopping - whatever you loved before kids, continue to cultivate it on the side to maintain happiness.
J is for Joy: Find it in something small, each and every day. You don't have to wait to win the lotto to experience this profound emotion.
K is for Keep it Real: If you're having a bad day, only do what you can to preserve your sanity and remember it will pass. They happen to us all. Just do the basics and that is more than enough until your wits and strength have returned.
L is for Live in the Moment: Grab every chance you can get to be present in the now. If there's a crazy game your kids are playing and they want your involvement, drop whatever you're doing and go and join in! Despite having young kids still, sometimes I regret not doing this on so many occasions. A missed chance is often lost forever.
M is for Meet-ups: Meet up with other like-minded Mums and cultivate friendships - particularly if they also have a child or children around the same age group as your own. Nothing provides confidence and support like another woman in the same life situation as you.
N is for No: Teach your kids that No really means No. It will save you so much stress when they learn that they must back down on their nagging campaigns immediately.
O is for Opportunities: Sometimes things will crop up before you on your path and you will be invited to come along for the ride. Not so much a Mothering thing at all really this one, but a general life thing too. Seriously consider interesting opportunities that present themselves to you. Like the Confidence tip, just say yes and worry about the fruition of the project later! Good luck! Think of all the successful women who have sprouted wonderful businesses, just by becoming a Mum.
P is for Patience: Kids are slow-coaches, stubborn, headstrong, difficult and petulant - do I need to tell you? Of course not! Patience on your part is something that comes with the Mothering job and it's something that is quite a blessing when, (and if) you ever manage to master it!
Q is for Quiet time: Make sure you are getting this, whether it's time away from the kids entirely or by teaching them to back-off a little so that you can catch your breath. It's the only way to re-charge and come back fresh and capable again.
R is for Read: Keep up with parenting websites or books where you can find many fantastic solutions to child-raising problems, support and advice. Join breastfeeding groups, walking groups and the like. If you don't read up on opportunities around you, you may be missing out on something really good for yourself.
S is for Stress: All Mums will feel this and regularly. Try to exercise, meditate or do whatever you need to do to relax.
T is for Tips: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received as a Mother? For me is was the gem, Look after yourself first.
I have had to apply this so many times as a Mum, when things just became overwhelming. It may mean pulling back from social events for example, when you are feeling just too worn down to continue. Do it, don't feel bad about it and know that it is the right decision for your family too. Kids would rather have a calm and healthy Mum (and Dad), than the frazzled alternative.
U, V, W, X and Z are for Miscellaneous: Confused? Okay, some letters are just too difficult! What would you add here, from your own personal experience?
Y is for You: Finally, remember to put yourself in your family's memories. How will you feel if you look back on your family photographs only to find you're not in many of them? Get in the picture at every opportunity. I wrote this post previously on the subject of being a presence in your family's memories.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received as a Mum?
Do you have some Motherhood mantras of your own to share?
What would you add under those Miscellaneous letters? (They were hard!)
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Featured Thursdays will return here next week.