Friday, 3 April 2015
When in doubt, choose Joy
Some days I feel like I’m doing it all wrong. I’m exhausted. I’m working too hard. I’m not working enough. I feel like there is no time to be gentle, or social, or kind. I get shouty, I give too may ‘uh-huh, in-a-minute, just-a-second’ replies to my kids. And then the day is over. The house is quiet, and I feel terribly alone.
Those days are hard to find joy, I know.
Loneliness is one of the benchmarks of lone parenting and it’s a hard one to describe to those who aren’t in the tribe.
It’s hard to explain how it is possible to feel truly alone in a house full of sleeping people. The crushing weight of responsibility you feel when there is another bill, another job to do, or something that needs fixing that you don’t know how to do. And in the moment it needs to be done – there is nobody to call. Nobody coming home at 6pm to open a bottle of wine to go with dinner, and give you a cuddle and listen to all the crazy things you’re thinking before you divide up the jobs and tackle them as a team.
I know I am not the only lone parent who has days like these, because nowadays I work with many parents like me. Not to mention, I have a whole bunch of amazing lone parent friends too. I know that we need to talk about the tough stuff and be real with each other, because it’s only in the honesty that we can find the joy and the laughter again.
Lately I have had to refuse to meet my friends because I have too much work to do, or no sitter, or no cash. This is not a sob story or a pity party – it is a simple fact of being at the helm of a single parent family, sometimes there simply isn’t enough of me to go around. If you’re a lone parent, I know that you will have been there too. You know how isolating it can feel.
It is inside these moments of challenge, where you’re peering out of the trenches, thinking ‘dear god when will this END?’ that I’ve found my gratitude practices have literally transformed my experience of life. This week has been pretty terrible financially, and as a result I’ve had to grit my teeth, put my big girl pants on and just deal with the messiness of life.
It’s also been pretty epic for me and my kids. Big stuff is happening in our world. Sprout is starting school, I am launching new business products, Sprout and Bean and I have been out adventuring in the forest celebrating Spring Equinox with our favourite people. This is the good stuff. I don’t want it to be swallowed up by the teeth gritty me who has to be in charge. I am braver than that. I am happier than that. I promised myself to remember those things, for the three of us.
So just to be sure that I’m noticing where the joy is in our lives I’m going to share with you my gratitudes for the week that just passed.
1) Sleeping with beautiful Bean on the sofa for an hour. At two and a half, he is so feisty and bold and full of adventure that naps rarely happen any more. Feeling the weight of his sleeping body and the warmth of his cheeks against mine while he breathes slowly and softly on my chest. Such a gift, and one of those moments I sink into. They fill me up and renew me, from the inside out.
2) Dressing four year old Sprout in his school uniform for the first time, practicing for when he starts reception class full time after Easter holiday. Seeing his pride and excitement about being a grown up boy, with his own identity outside of our home. Knowing I’ve done what I can to help him take this step with confidence.
3) Sitting in my kitchen with the adult colouring book I was given for mothers day. Colouring in beautiful mandala patterns instead of watching TV, drinking in the silence while the boys sleep in the early evening and the sun sets behind the garden wall.
4) Careering around in the blazing sunshine with my kids on Spring Equinox. Watching Sprout go porridge jousting (don’t ask!) and Bean playing among the daffodils.
5) Being asked what love is made of by Sprout. Telling him it is made of happiness, only to be told that his happiness lives in me – so I must be made of love. Absolutely gorgeous (and a moment to hang on to in between the strops and stresses of a normal day!).
I am not made of stone, and the teeth-gritty days happen to me just as often as they do to other parents, I’m sure. But I will always, always be glad of the opportunity to be a parent in the midst of it all.