The magic of finding flow and dropping struggle in parenthood

I’m done with pushing. I don’t like it, I don’t want it, you can have it back thank you very much.

I’m talking about the energetic pushing. (Not the physical pushing – though definitely not into that at all!) The powering through, or powering over, a situation. Not my jam anymore. The results of this shift into flow and out of struggle have been pretty awesome too. Like for example, our struggles with THE READING LADY. (YES ALL CAPS.)

The reading lady might as well be THE CHURCH LADY

My daughter recently started seeing a speech therapist for reading challenges. We were referred to a woman by an Occupational Therapist my daughter loved. But from the get-go the speech therapist rubbed me the wrong way. It’s the kind of thing that you can’t exactly pinpoint though now I can see it: she was a pusher! She was someone who embodied powering through and over challenges. (Plus, she just wasn’t nice!)

So of course since I’m working on finding flow and not PUSHING I instantly decided not to see this woman again and found someone else, right? Oh no, of course not.

Yes, for several weeks we got up SUPER early for a butt-crack of dawn appointment with this woman, who pursed her lips when my child dared to let her eyes wander off the written page, and gave warnings when my daughter played with the shaving cream a little too long as they practiced making letters.

It’s no surprise to hear my daughter started to push back against going to these early morning, super-not-fun sessions! I couldn’t blame her. I didn’t like the lady either! So why exactly were we there??

And then I remember I’m done pushing and forcing. As fate would have it our reading lady was gone on vacation for a bit. During that time I found a new therapist. I ignored the part of me that said “oh but why can’t you be grateful for the person you found” or “yes she is grumbly but she knows her stuff!” or “What if you can’t find someone as good? What if you end up with someone worse?” and alllll that nonsense we tell ourselves. As soon as I shifted my focus asking for divine assistance to help me connect with someone who would serve the highest good in this situation, friends provided not one but two recommendations for therapists who were closer, kinder, and weren’t described as being at all like Dana Carvey’s church lady.

Fast forward to today: we LOVE our new therapist. My daughter looks forward to her appointment! And interestingly enough, the new therapist did mention that she observed my daughter doesn’t always keep her eyes on her, but that she also observed that she is retaining the information even though she appears distracted. The therapist was fine with this but wanted to let us know in case a teacher complains that my daughter isn’t paying attention in class. Fascinating difference right?!

OH, and my daughter is soaring with her reading.

No pushing! Finding balance and flow!

Now it’s time to graduate from kindergarten so to speak and apply this concept to the mother of all struggles we’re currently facing: bedtime routine. (DUN DUN DUN!!!)

Have you found the flow and dropped the struggle in any area of your life? How’s it going?

Just Follow the Joy on Facebook & Instagram for more joy and inspiration!

She’s got the moves like Jagger (or maybe not . . .)

I’d like to think that the truck full of young males headed to a landscaping job, sitting idle next to me at a stoplight, were cracking up at my dance moves because they were wowed by them and impressed by this forty-something’s swagger.

But I’m pretty sure they thought I looked like Elaine from Seinfeld.

“Mom, this is why I ask you not to dance.” Thanks a lot, peanut gallery!

A pool float that plays sea chanteys?

That’s what my five-year old wanted to get my hubby for Father’s Day. Sadly no such thing exists (that I’m aware of) BUT if one gift ever summed up her dear-dad’s personality that would be it!

He settled for a sentimental photo gift and a book about octopuses but who knows. Maybe by the time his birthday rolls around we can pull together a custom sea-chantey-swan-float.

Yo ho ho, I raise a glass of grog in honor of all ye dads out there! Happy Father’s Day, mateys!

Shonda Rhimes can keep her Year of YES. 2017 was my year of NO!

This past year was like the cleanup after a hurricane. (Which incidentally I also lived through.) If 2016 was the hurricane, 2017 the now what? after the hurricane.

After the real hurricane–Irma–I was surrounded by so many blessings. I saw them everywhere I looked. My house was still standing! The flood waters stopped short of entering my front door! (Barely.) The palm tree went down, sure, but it missed hitting our roof! And electricity, blessed electricity I so-take-for-granted–it eventually came back on!

That’s the thing about living through a hurricane. If you survive it mostly intact, it has a way of distilling what matters. For instance, living in a home with more than one room becomes a wonderful gift. (My daughter still to this day wants to play “hotel” because nothing was as amazing as having her mom and dad with her 24 HOURS A DAY, EVERY DAY, DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY, IN THE SHARED SPACE OF ONE HOTEL ROOM. She’s most definitely not an introvert like her mother, who to this day does not know how she survived the experience without totally losing her ish.)

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The year 2016: when I finally got tired of my own bullshit.

If 2017 was cleaning up after a hurricane, the year 2016  was the hurricane. I could say it was a year of deep surrender, unveiling of truths, healing wounds and rediscovering joy.  But really it was the year I owned my bullshit. (See Elizabeth Gilbert quote.) After that epic year of owning my shit, in 2017 it became very clear to me that experiencing joy was not compatible with duties that sucked the joy from my life. Shonda Rhimes may have had her year of yes, but 2017 was my year of no.

Yes, this past year was all about Does it bring me joy? No? GOODBYE FELICIA. Does it take time away from my ability to experience joy? SO LONG, WON’T CATCH YA LATER. Are my choices leading to burnout and fatigue, therefore limiting my energy to create art and experience joy? DON’T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU ON THE WAY OUT.

This of course was more complicated than I’m making it sound. In one stretch of weeks this past fall I remember collapsing while sick (likely due to lack of sleep) and crying in a puddle of tears. I CAN’T DO IT ALL, WOE IS MEEEEEEE! Well of course you can’t do it all, foolish woman! I had the startling realization that there was still a LOT more no to be said. I faced some major Catholic guilt…”but i promised these people I would volunteer with this project! I can’t possibly quit!” Yes you did, and now you must pay the piper and admit you over-committed. Suck it up buttercup! Time to say no!

I said no. . .and I survived. It felt good actually. I nurtured my yin — the feminine energy fueled by rest, introspection, creativity, and deep glorious sleep. I asked for a sleep mask for Christmas and I wear it with glee. I go to bed early, really early. I even (GASP) went off coffee for a long while so I could rid myself of the addiction to caffeine. It wasn’t needed now that I wasn’t trying to do more in a day than was humanly possible! Such joy and freedom in saying NO. For calling bullshit on the inner dialog that said “this is how it is, I work fulltime and have a child and blah blah blah here are alllll my excuses for why I should be permanently frazzled and fatigued.” Facing the truth–that my time is precious indeed, so how can I use it to fuel joy?–was LIBERATING and EMPOWERING.

Where does this leave me as I say goodbye to 2017? The trash has been taken out. The roles and responsibilities have been winnowed down to essentials only. Now I need to step into my truth. No more excuses. No more distractions. 2018 is where it becomes manifest. Ultimately it will mean living my truth. Time to take the plunge, baby. 

Are you ready? I am. Well, mostly. I’m sipping a coffee as I write this (some habits are hard to break) BUT I did sleep soundly for eight hours with my beloved sleep mask. No more excuses, no more hiding. Let’s do this.

Holiday self-care: visions versus reality

Me every year before Christmas season:

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This year I’m going to make healthy choices for myself to stay grounded. Like, stick to my calming decaf teas instead of coffee, which my body tells me feels so much better.

 

Me yesterday:

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GIVE ME ALL THE COFFEEEEEES.

Before the holidays:

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I’m going to buy gifts early and ship in plenty of time to reduce stress!

Me this week:

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OH CRAP OH CRAP WHY DON’T I HAVE PRIORITY MAIL BOXES! I’LL TRADE MY FIRSTBORN AND A COFFEE FOR ONE RIGHT NOW!

 

Me before Christmas:

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We will make homemade hand-crafted thoughtful teacher gifts made of love and unicorns

Me two days before the last day of preschool:

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PEACE OUT, MAKING MY THIRD RUN TO THE STORE TO BUY GIFT CARDS!

 

Merry Christmas everyone. May you stay sane amidst the chaos and find time for self-care. (Real self-care. Like, time to breathe deep and tune out the noise. Coffees are optional. Though I am totally drinking one as I type this.)

 

Florida-girl sees snow for the first time. (Age 5.)

“I bet the lake is frozen and the alligators are all at the bottom wrapped in blankets!”

There aren’t any alligators in Michigan. It’s too cold!

“I bet the alligators all got on a plane and said, let’s go to Florida!”

Indeed!

“Are there penguins in Michigan?”

No. It’s cold but not that cold.

Upon seeing snow outside the airport, before grabbing a handful to make a snowball: “Are there any snakes in the snow?”

Thank goodness no! [YOU MIGHT HAVE GROWN UP IN FLORIDA IF YOU CHECK FOR SNAKES BEFORE PLUNGING YOUR HAND IN WATERY SUBSTANCES.]

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p.s. My website was down recently because it is December and my mind is all about making cookies and buying gifts before I have to upgrade to expedited shipping.  Oops. We are now back up at www.mourningdovemotherhood.com 😀 Thanks for your patience!

The man-cold experiment

In not-at-all-surprising news, I got sick with a bad cold. (My last post was literally about how I need to practice more self-care.) Sigh.

I’m working on more rest, less doing in my daily life, so I figured practicing this while sick would be a good place to start. In fact, what better way to demand rest than to treat my cold like it’s a man-cold. 

Man-cold instructions:

  1. Lie down in the bed under the covers and don’t move all night. 
  2. Demand others tend to dinner. Preferably making your favorite comfort food.
  3. Declare yourself off-limits for childcare duty.

It’s that simple and here’s the crazy thing: it basically worked! Childcare tasks were the hardest to shake because the child finds me wildly entertaining and demands me as her playmate. (#onlychildproblems.) I fixed that by suggesting she and daddy play “science” which they both love because they make volcanoes explode and get messy, so win-win.

At bedtime my husband did get a tad snippy: “you WILL be helping with bedtime routine right?!” I said yes, assuming that’s how it goes the next time he gets sick. 

Who knew it was that easy? Ask and ye shall receive! 

Now might be a good time for some self-care.

Some lessons are worth learning over and over (and over and over and over) again.

This past weekend I thought, here we go again. It was my semi-annual, perhaps quarterly (at least!) reminder that my essential self-care needs cannot be messed with. To mess with them is to create an imbalance that ripples throughout the whole household. As the saying goes, if mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. 

I’m talking about sleep, time alone, and writing.  My three essential self-care items that keep me from turning into Cruella Deville.

IT SEEMS SO SIMPLE, RIGHT? And yet, there I was again, yelling like a shrew at my family this past weekend. All sleep-deprived and self-righteous. (I always become the self-righteous martyr when I’m parenting from an empty cup…look at me, sacrificing for ALL OF YOU, NONE of you whom seem to appreciate my greatness! LOL. NOT A GOOD LOOK FOR YOU, SARAH.)

After a long and difficult weekend I finally faced the music that I was spent. Done. Overcooked in fact. I needed to fill my cup, and fast. I collapsed and slept. A LOT. So much that I took a day off of work to keep sleeping. (It turns out I was really sleep-deprived from short nights with a sick kid last week. Huh.) I sat and watched some old Will & Grace episodes. (Season two, amazing 90s sweaters and longish boy hair cuts. But I digress.) I felt better. I created some art, something that I hadn’t done a lot of recently, spending most of my energy on administrative tasks for my Etsy shop.  (Note to self: balance those tasks with the actual creating of art!)

I was finally back to the woman I was always meant to be! Rested and replenished and once again liking the people in my household.  How had I let this get away from me, once again? Well, over-dependence on caffeine was most certainly one culprit. (I started weaning off coffee last week and this weekend I felt the full extent of my tiredness, no longer masked by delicious highly caffeinated Cuban coffees.)

Coffee aside, you know what else I blame? The damn patriarchy. This idea that somehow demanding time for myself on the weekend is indulgent or not becoming of a mother who works all week and only has weekends to really hang out with her kid. What, you are paying a sitter to watch your kid on the weekend TOO? What kind of monster are you?!

It’s all rubbish of course. Once again I’m back to reminding myself that not only can I not pour from an empty cup, but little eyes are watching me. What do I teach my daughter about taking care of herself, putting herself first, when I don’t do the same for me? And when I DO take time for myself pursuing my passions, I can show her what it means to be a nuanced, multi-faceted woman. Powerful stuff.

You may have heard other speak of self-care as a radical act, and that it most certainly is. I’m thinking it might be so radical that it goes beyond the idea of mere replenishment and recharging (though it is those things, too). I’m beginning to view it as a form of embracing the divine feminine. JUICY I KNOW!

I don’t have time to dive into those thoughts today, but I will tomorrow. After a full night’s sleep and with time to myself to write. Win-win-win!


What’s on your essential care list? Extroverts, I’d love to hear what your list looks like! 

Say WHAT?!

Offspring (age 4): “When we go to the library everybody is going to say, “what’s that smell?”

Me: (Hesitate –but curiosity gets the best of me.)  “uh, what smells?”

Offspring: “You! You smell like a turtle and a hamster fighting in a trash bag.”

SAY WHAT. I BATHED TODAY KID. I EVEN USED DEODORANT.

 

Even the dog is like, say what. Exactly Parker. (He contorted himself into this position all by himself. Looney toon household I tell you.)