Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ordinary Days

Sometime ago, I came across this youtube video 'The Gift of an Ordinary Day' by Katrina Kenison. I'm sure for many, it is something they've already seen, but it is something so worth watching and taking the time to listen to, especially for mums of little ones. At the time I came across this video, Lachie was probably 6 or so months old, and the ongoing sleeplessness and what felt like almost constant breastfeeding, was beginning to take its toll! I was over-tired and drained and feeling like a long, interrupted sleep was all that would get me back on track. This video is quite literally life-changing. It is all about cherishing the here and now, so much what I want to do more of. And it's from the perspective of a mum whose kids have grown up and moved out - who better to get advice about enjoying your children than from someone who has passed through all of those phases and now can sit back and reflect on the two boys she has raised and loves.

The video got me thinking about how I will feel about this time of my life, when I am 40, 50, 60, 70+. Will I look back on this time and think, 'God, it truly was awful and something I had to endure', or will I think 'If only I could have my beautiful, soft skinned, 5kg bundle of baby back for one more cuddle'? Something tells me that at the age of 60 or 70, I will fantasise and reminisce about the wonderful moments of cuddling Lachie on the couch and in bed, feeling his amazingly soft skin and smelling his delicious hair (why don't adults smell as good?).

When I was at uni and doing placements at nursing homes, I remember being really confronted by little old ladies with dementia, sitting around holding plastic dolls. At first, I felt really uncomfortable about this, as though the women were being tricked or made to look foolish. But as I watched these old women, I was fascinated. They were cooing to the dolls, stroking their plastic cheeks, kissing their plastic foreheads, gently rocking themselves and the babies and whispering into their little ears, what I can only imagine were whispers of comfort and love.

My supervisor told me that these women, who otherwise would just sit and stare, could spend hours each day tending to the dolls, patting and rocking, pretending to feed and nurse them, putting them to bed and washing them, re-enacting all those hours upon hours of caring that they had in-fact done in their earlier lives as 20&30 something-year-old women. They were literally absorbed in the occupation of caring and as such, they were receiving wonderful, therapeutic value out of it.

This made me look at the hours of caring for Lachie in a completely different way. I started imagining as I was breastfeeding him to sleep for the fourth time at night (!) that somehow I had been given this hour back from long ago; that I was, in-fact, an 82 year old woman, and someone had said to me 'you can have one more precious hour with the 6 month old version of your son - enjoy'. Imagine being given those moments back, at the end of your life? Wouldn't you cherish them and relish each second, knowing that you will never, ever get this moment back and knowing how incredibly special it is. It was a lovely, fun game of pretend that got me all goose-pimply (and teary too, if I'm being honest) and I lay there with my milk-drunk bubba, breathing extra deeply, taking in all the smells and feelings of the moment, imagining that this was a wonderful gift being given to me. It's something I draw on all the time, particularly when I'm feeling especially over the hours it can sometimes take to get Lachie to sleep or settle him through the night.

Simplicity Parenting

I am currently reading the book 'Simplicity Parenting' by Kim John Payne and I am so excited to find a book that resonates so strongly with my philosophy on parenting and the need to get back to basics when it comes to the day to day basics of being with our kids. I have felt for sometime that pressure to 'hyper-schedule' myself and Lachie, to have atleast one (if not three or four) 'important' goals or jobs for each day which I can tick off mentally in order to feel like I've somehow achieved something and given Lachie the best 'developmental opportunities' for the day. But so often I've also felt torn because I know that Lachie is not at his happiest when he's pushed and pulled from one event to the next, constantly on the go and expected to be 'busy'. I've also observed mum's who spend much of their time and resources on endless lessons, sessions, toys, appointments, books and devices designed to 'stimulate, educate, advance, promote' etc, etc (you get my point!). And these same mum's lament that they don't have the time to get the things done in their day that they want to do or spend any time on themselves or their own relationships. Often these kids too are fractious, tired and overwrought, and unable to get 'into the flow' of spontaneous, creative, imaginative play, the type of play that I have such wonderful memories of from my own childhood. This book is a great reminder of the simplicity that kids need to foster these wonderful creative, imaginative moments, and a reminder too of the dangers of buying into that belief that kids need lots of stuff and input to 'be their best'.