Marvellous Multifaceted Mammas

Have you ever stopped and wondered quite what marvellous creatures us Mammas are? The many dimensional, multi-faceted nature of us?

Me with my Batt Pack – who is in the driving seat?!!

We give birth to our babes and from here on in the job description is ever changing, becoming deeper and broader as life marches on. We soon become experts on our new babes – the ones who know them best, as we tune into and learn their language. We have never before been taught ‘baby’ and it is an exhausting minefield of utter, bewildering, yumminess. We are the feeder, the burper, the waker of the baby who is still sleepy and the one trying to get the resolutely unsleepy baby asleep. Our CV expands as we become the laundry pro, expert at whitening whites with unmentionable stains. We change nappies almost more often than we do anything else, we wonder why we don’t have shares in Pampers and how on earth the women who came before us managed when the nappies had to be, horror of all horrors, washed! We tune into and can spot the difference between cries – hungry, sleepy, bored, cold, icky nappy, and we race to relieve the babe of the misfortune.

We learn patience, patience in abundance. Babies cry and sometimes they cry and cry and cry and you cry too as, having tried everything, you simply don’t know how to soothe them. There are times when our babes drink just that little bit too much milk and puke it all back up again. Your heart sinks as you know this will impact their sleep and of course your lack of sleep. Talking of which, we learn to live on the torturous edge of sleep, rarely better than just the wrong side of enough sleep. We are exhausted, depleted and we can’t think straight and yet there is no sick day option – life continues apace and you soldier on.

You feel the full range of emotions as a Mamma, when you are in the depths remember the highs that await!

Our weightlifting role begins as soon as we are responsible for the Baby bag and the unlimited list of all that is required in there! Let alone holding the baby – who knew that  arms could ache so much holding such a little thing? Why were car seats made to be so awkward to lug around? We become adept at tricky jobs like opening the front door with your baby in the baby bjorn, food shopping in hand, they get grotty as you faff,  the panic in you rises, and somehow you maintain a steady hand as you get the key in the door with relief!

As our magical creatures grow we dive into the messy world of feeding – solid food, cutlery, spillages always, food up the walls, tomato soup all over your face spat out in force because they don’t want another mouthful. We pour our heart and soul into creating healthy, nutritious meals, we freeze the meals, labelling them carefully for the freezer, defrosting them with enthusiasm for the next meal. So much of this food is rejected we wonder why we bother, we try cheeky tricks like a spoonful of sweet yoghurt, then a spoonful of chowder – but babes catch on quick and soon the mouthfuls of chowder are spat at us too! We are chefs with no kitchen staff, often battling with the taste buds of our babes – “broccoli? You LOVE broccoli?!”.

Ok so I think this feeding time was chocolate cake – rarely an issue with chocolate cake feeding!!

As our baby start to move around we hone our watchdog skills – we can avert disaster at several paces. We catch falling glasses, remove trip hazards, just in time, keep hands away from hot cups of tea. We develop Ninja senses that we never knew we had. We are impressed with our new senses but also exhausted from being in a constant high state of alert! We astonish ourselves with how many ‘No’s’ we can say – we never thought we would be that Mum who says no constantly or ‘Be careful’, ‘Don’t touch’, ‘Don’t run’ – all these limiting statements that we know clip our child’s wings – but never before have we been presented with so many potential life-threatening dangers for something that is so incredibly precious to us. With no qualifications we are also Chief Nurse, needed for every ailment, with responsibility to decide whether we can deal with it, or the pharmacist or the doctor. Always at the ready with a plaster (which some kids love and others consider the height of all evil), a cold press, vick, savlon, and of course a good old fashioned, miracle working cuddle.

One of the joys of many kids is that they can cuddle each other too – makes my heart sing!

Then come the playdates and the constant attention and referee work that is required to monitor proceedings. If we have a friend over too, we will of course barely say anything to each other as we both try to navigate the quagmire of toddler relationships.

The Referee job continues apace, especially if we have more babies. In many cases it would be easier to install security cameras so you can press rewind and pause to see exactly what happened in the toddler dispute and interject fairly! To add to this role of Referee, we are also Judge and Jury – we have had no training in either role but the situation needs sorting fairly and yet rarely will your babes consider the solution to be fair. As they grow and begin to talk, our revelling in their new found communication skills is short lived as the questions begin. So many, never ending questions and you need the answers – you need more answers than Google “because I said so” is never good enough. Our teaching skills that we have been honing since the day of the birth are put to excellent use from here as you teach right and wrong, teach all subjects across the curriculum of life and fuel their fires. As their need to explore and adventure grows, we put on your Detective hat and explore with them. We are the chief Entertainment Officer and PA, expected to deliver fun classes, playdates and enriching 1-on-1 time, all the while knowing that our babes’ patience is short and if the entertainment isn’t up to the job, they will soon let us know about it!

One of our family cycles, or rather me running behind the older 3 with baby Liberty in tow!

Oooooh did I mention that we are also the Personal Dresser of our children. When they are babies we lay the outfits out carefully, they are of course puked on fairly soon after so several outfit changes are needed per day. We are still 100% personal dresser for a while longer as we buy them their first shoes and  dress them as the cutest toddlers known to man. Then one day, some babes begin to reject our choices, deciding instead that the colour clash option is essential, their favourite jumper will be worn daily and their wellies will go with well, everything! We marvel at their growing independence but struggle with being sacked spontaneously from our personal dresser role!

Testing the boundaries and having a whale of a time of it!

As they grow and go to school we become the taxi driver, back and forth between school and clubs and playdates. Our babes are often fractious at getting into the car, as are we considering the length of time it has often taken to get them out of the house! If they fall asleep enroute, they are also fractious when we get them out. School can seem like a rhum deal to them and another job of ours is to persuade them quite how wonderful school will be. Whilst we look forward to the headspace that school gives us, we dearly miss their company when we have been used to being by their side 24/7.

Now that is just a fraction of the many roles that we have – they bloom and blossom as our children grow, some roles take a back seat whilst others like become more intense. Of course there is no pay for this job of ours, infact it is a job that costs us a small fortune as we finance everything that our little ball of energy needs. Add to that no training, no days off, no financial bonuses, no tips, no reviews so you can each regularly make a new agreement as to how to better work things out.

We are the Marvellous Multifacted Mammas – and all that is before any life and dreams that we have for ourselves – that of course has to be fitted in around this mega Mamma job. What do we get in return? LOVE LOVE LOVE in abundance that enriches us beyond measure and a lifetime of fascinating, utterly beautiful, bonding growth. Those inky grey newborn baby eyes that dreamily gaze at us during the nighttime feeds; the way they light up when we walk into the room; the dreamy feeling of their arms around you when they hug you tight; the way they make us laugh our socks of with the funny things they say;  catching the first glimpse of each other at the end of the school day; the feeling we get when we make them roar with laughter; watching them bloom from babies to children, to teenagers and beyond; watching their independent, free spirits bloom; teaching them new talents and watching them grow with pride; the fact that they ground us utterly in the present moment and ignite our inner child; that general overwhelming feeling of love.

This feeling – pause and soak it up whenever it comes your way Mammas!

Mamma you are an incredible force of nature and through the work you put into your babes, you are creating a brighter future for this beautiful world.  So every time you doubt yourself, you feel tired, you wonder how you are going to cope, please know that you have got this. You were born to do it. Promise me, you will pause for a while right now and truly HONOUR the amazing role that you have – BIG yourself up. There is no other job in the world that has less pay but is more rewarding. You are the LIGHT for your babe – you light the way for them and this is such a privilege. I celebrate all that you are and hope that you recognise the glorious impact you have and honour yourself wholly. You are a truly, utterly, marvellous human being!

My rainbow tribe, born to create the future and make this world a better place!

To be Joyful…

I love the term Joyful. It makes me smile, just hearing the word.  The Oxford Dictionary definition is: “Feeling, expressing, or causing great pleasure and happiness”. To me, it seems like the ideal state for a Mamma – to be largely either personally feeling or expressing, or causing your children to feel great pleasure and happiness. When we fully experience the beauty of pure joy, it feels electric.

I have always had a positive nature and recently I was slammed for it – for my choice to be happy despite the odds. I was called inauthentic as a result which, for a time hurt and baffled me. Ah and then the catch 22 – what other way is there, to respond to a claim of inauthenticity, other than to continue being 100% me?! Of course, that is what fuelled the negative comments in the firstplace. I realise now that it is truly none of my business what people think of me. If I am happy with who I am and my intentions for others are good – it is all good.

The experience raised a question about the whole Joyful Mamma thing – does the name mean that I am joyful all the time? Are you kidding me?!! The only way you can recognise and feel real joy is when you know it’s opposites like agony and sorrow. I know these feelings only too well, my gorgeous Mamma died just after my wedding and just before I found out that I was pregnant with my first born. I experienced the full range of negative emotions during that time of my life and my world felt heavy and arduous. Believe me, I know the opposites of Joy. In my experience, the gift of pain is that it sensitises you in a world intent on desensitisation.

When we feel the opposites of Joy, we often make these uncomfortable feelings more comfortable by numbing them out or repressing them. I became a total pro at this but the lesson I have learnt is that by numbing out the negative, I am naturally more numbed out to the positives. I don’t choose that trade off. I now know that I grow as much through the negative as I am lifted by the positive. I want to feel it all and whenever and wherever I can, I choose Joy. I believe that you will be exactly as joyful as you decide to be.

Remember that Joy is our birthright! This intrinsic state of joy that we are all born with is also known as our Buddha State. No matter what happens to us, this state lies within. Always there, never faltering. Knowing that my intrinsic self is joyful brings such inner peace.

Many years ago I read with delight the Buddhist philosophy that ‘everything passes’. Everything passes but the Buddha State remains. What liberation! Why hold on with attachment? See the situation for what it is and recognise that it will pass. The negative emotions that can flood us so quickly – anger, sadness, frustration,  take hold and then dissipate – they all do – that is why they are called e-motions and not e-standstills!!

After my Mamma died, I was often unable to fully immerse myself in joyful experiences. For me it was because I was still grieving and to feel anything close to happiness seemed disrespectful to her memory. It was also because I felt as though to really acknowledge the joy would be akin to tempting fate and would somehow bring about something negative – I would almost be worrying through the happy times, waiting for the next catastrophe to happen. This is of course very common for mothers of young children because kids tend to walk into several calamities during their day! When you are bracing yourself and expecting these calamities to happen, it is hard to slow down and focus on all the good stuff. The only response is to embrace the present – no amount of worrying can change the future or the past and it will certainly impede your enjoyment of the present.A quote by Eckhart Tolle resonates with me here, “Accept-then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it…This will miraculously transform your whole life.”

Our life is our prayer. It is our gift to the Universe. The memories we leave behind when we leave this world will be our legacy to our loved ones. We owe it to ourselves and everyone around us to be happy and to spread that joy around. One more day that you don’t feel JOYful as a mother, is another day that you can’t. It is never too late to start, but always too late to wait!

What is it to embody Joyful Mothering?  To be connected with your life in the present moment; to spot and soak up all the joy on offer to empower you and your children and enable you to be better prepared when times get tough; to be able to pause before you react and then react in a more loving way; to recognise the big picture and far reaching impact of your Mothering – to truly bask in the glory of this incredible role and responsibility and see it as life’s ultimate gift.