Present to yourself, gift to the world

Meditation, Motherhood

In this podcast, I love what Jillian Lavender says about taking time for yourself, in her case specifically to meditate. She says something like, let’s turn on its head this whole idea of carving out some time for some self-care (yes, self-care, irritating term, but it is self-care nonetheless so let’s go with it) being selfish. It is not selfish, she says, it is the most generous thing you could do for yourself and for your family.

Yes, you are taking yourself away from them for ten minutes, or fifteen, or however long you can stretch to, and it often takes some mathematical maneuvering to find the time, particularly if you have very young children, but things have always changed when you get back. Your perspective has always shifted.

Having small children is stressful, it just is, the end. I’ve got a five year old, three year old and a one year old. The three year old is almost always having tantrums, the five year old isn’t far behind him and the one year old – well the poor soul is suffering so much with cutting teeth, and has been since soon after birth. It means he wakes about five or six times a night, and because he’s breastfed, it’s the only way I can comfort him. Some days, I just find it all really stressful. Let me be clear, the glory hours far outweigh the drudgy ones. Having children is exploding stars and love and joy; but it’s a headwreck too. I’m not sure how other mothers do it, but I find all the constant screaming and shouting really challenging (ahem, to say the least) and the problem with it is, my monkey beast comes out, every time, and I just want to shout and scream back. My son threw an apple at me last night and guess what? I threw it back. I feel terrible about it, it’s not cool behavior for an adult.

So back to what Jillian said, in my case it’s true: I think meditating is the most generous thing I can do for my family and for me, because when I am consistent with doing it, it makes me a better person. It just does. Better, stronger, calmer, less tired, less snappy, less of a dick. It also gives me the extra gift of deeply appreciating the smaller moments, the fleeting pearls of mothering these beautiful tiny children that I know I will wear like a precious, treasured necklace when they are grown.

Dances with wolves


‘Stop using your wolf voice Mama,’ said my eldest this morning. What a great way to describe my asshole voice – the one that comes out when I have been unable to control my temper.

My son was having an epic tantrum. He wouldn’t tell us why he was so upset. I ran downstairs, dripping wet from a snatched morning shower, to crying so heart-wrenching I thought something truly awful had happened. Like, he’d lost a piece of Lego or something.

I did that thing that is the opposite of the story from Aesop’s Fables, The North Wind and the Sun. Do you know it? I think about it weirdly often. The tale really struck me as a child. Basically, the wind and the sun quarrel about who is strongest. The wind, as is its wont, was blustery and forceful, convinced it would be the one to get a passing traveller’s cloak off. He loses it and blows as hard as he can, but all the man does is pull his cloak even tighter. Then – you guessed it – the sun gently shines. It glows and winks and burns brightly. The man throws his cloak off.

So, yes, I did the opposite of that. I kept saying, ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong?’ whipping myself up into a foul and impatient mood. Eventually I forced him to tell me through blackmail – you know, this one: ‘If you don’t tell me now X will happen’.

He answered. ‘Daddy poured milk on my cereal’. Wolf voice came out in force. ‘Are you (insert nearly a swear word here but I managed not to say it) joking me?’ His eyes widened. The milk and cereal were forgotten. There was a frigging wolf in front of him.

I think about that Aesop’s fable a lot as an adult because I keep having to learn the same lesson repeatedly. Being taught it once just doesn’t cut it. If you are forceful and shitty – with your children, with anyone – things will backfire on you. If you can tap into some level of light within yourself, and let that illuminate your reactions, then your children (your spouse, your boss, your friends, whoever) will automatically shine back in response.

You’ll get some time to feed the wolf before it bites, too.