The year of being present

Thirteen days into the new year and I am finally writing about my resolutions for this year, but it’s all part of the plan, I promise. In fact, this year I decided to focus on something other than the physical (although God knows I need to start exercising again).

This year I will try to be more present, live in the moment and be more mindful of all I do.

That means that there will be no writing or reading or catching up on blogs and the internet while the kids are awake. And that’s the reason why it’s taken me so long to find time to sit down and write. It’s not easy but I’m getting better at it, slowly. I don’t believe we ever stop learning. All our life is a learning process and the second you think you’ve got it all sorted, there comes another change or challenge and the learning and readjusting has to start all over again. Which is a good thing.

A year ago, I was lost in the midst of the nauseous fog of early pregnancy. It was around this time a year ago that I stopped working and, for the first time in my adult life, spent more than two weeks at home. Dear friends, I’ll admit it hasn’t been easy. Once the pregnancy was over and I could finally breathe again, there was a baby to take care of. I have since been trying to learn how to be a mother of two and if I have to be honest, I’ve been struggling with the whole thing.

A month ago I felt very unwell. My body just shut down. There were days when I couldn’t move or control my limbs. The pain I felt at other times was unbearable. I was scared something was terribly wrong with me and started thinking about the possibility that I might be leaving my children while they were still so small. It sounds morbid but I felt that bad. After getting the all-clear from my blood tests, the doctor suggested I might be suffering from post-natal depression. I had my doubts, especially because I never experienced most of the symptoms typically associated with this condition. Eventually, I started feeling better and felt fine by Christmas. My doctor now thinks it was a nasty virus that debilitated me so much and that the fact I was already tired didn’t help.

You might be wondering where I’m going with this. Well, those couple of weeks were like a slap in the face. I was forced to (literally) sit down and take a long, hard look at my life and at the way I was living it. What I came away with was the realisation that I had been trying to reach an impossibly high standard which I had imposed on myself, all the while ignoring my own needs (because, in my mind, that’s what good mothers do). Not a good combination, I’m telling you. I was getting terribly upset if the floors weren’t washed or swept everyday, if I went to bed or left the house while there were dishes that needed washing, if I had a backlog of more than one laundry wash or if I didn’t put away every single toy or scrap of paper by the end of each day. This happened everyday because most of my time is taken up by a baby who needs to be fed or cleaned or held or played with, a six year old who needs to be driven to and from school and various activities and demands my full attention the rest of the time and a husband who is still patiently waiting for the woman he married to resurface from all this madness. What’s worse is that I was spending a lot of time online during the day, checking Facebook and Twitter, reading blogs and articles, replying to emails which were not urgent…you get the idea. What all this translated into was a very irritable monster who would snap at everyone (except Robin) and whose body bailed out on her when it had had enough.

 Not only that, but I wasn’t spending any quality time with my children or husband because my mind was always elsewhere. I also stopped doing yoga, which was the only form of exercise I had been doing, I haven’t dyed my hair since the beginning of summer and I hadn’t been writing at all. So, at the end of the day, the house was still a mess, my family felt they didn’t know me anymore and I was stressed and very unhappy with myself. Which is why things have started changing around here. I am working on not being such a control freak. A couple of days ago I even went to bed without clearing the table from the dinner dishes and guess what? They were still there in the morning, there wasn’t an apocalypse and I got them out of the way in a couple of minutes.  I am also keeping away from the computer during the day unless Maia is at school and Robin is napping (like right now) and I am spending more quality time with my family. I haven’t got down to starting yoga again or dying my hair but they are on my to-do list.

My aim is to teach myself to enjoy life as it unfolds, to take in as much of the girls’ childhood as is humanly possible, to live everyday to the full and be truly present and mindful in all I do. It’s a tall order but there’s a whole year till I have to take stock again.

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