When I loved myself enough…

My friend, Sarah, bought me a beautiful book for my birthday. It’s a short read – only taking me 15 minutes to read cover to cover, but it has really inspired me.

It’s called ‘when I loved myself enough‘ (as the title of this post suggests) and lists all the things that the writer did once she started loving herself enough.

Saying ‘yes’ when she wanted to and ‘no’ when she wanted to.  Realising the abuse in forcing someone to do something against their will, including herself. Collecting ribbons to remind herself of the gift that life was. Respecting all the parts of her, from the harsh inner critic to her bravest self. 

It has inspired me and reminded me of something that a previous coach I had said – that loving yourself is an active choice, not a mindset shift, and so growing in self-love isn’t about me wrapping my head around this as a concept.

It involves doing. Or more so, it involves acts of self-love.

And so here is the list of self-love that I’ve done since reading the book – acts that I’ll continue to do…

When I loved myself enough, I let myself properly recover from being poorly instead of dragging myself into the office the moment I could function.

When I loved myself enough, I let myself leave a party when I was ready instead of waiting until it was a socially acceptable time to go. 

When I loved myself enough, I took time away to be by myself and write. 

When I loved myself enough, I allowed myself to write my own rules in life instead of taking the well-trodden path of others.

When I loved myself enough, I focused on my own needs instead of always focusing on the needs of other people.

When I loved myself enough, I expressed my own opinion even when it differed to other people.

So here are the steps I’ve started to take, the acts of love I’ve put into practice and I feel it’s just the start.

In a way, it’s a challenge I’m setting for myself – to love myself enough to live a life of greater courage, greater truth and greater self-love. As I continue to write about it, how it feels to love myself, I hope you enjoy it and I hope it inspires you to live a life in which you love yourself enough too, dear friend. 

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TV

My husband laughed at me last night because I decided I didn’t want to watch Ozark, a TV show on netflix which is just a bit too high pressure for me. A show where twists and turns are around every corner and near misses are part of every episode.

I’ve found myself pulling away from these types of shows recently – I couldn’t face series two of Stranger Things, recently stopped watching ‘Power’ (another adrenaline inducing show). I really can’t handle these shows anymore or don’t want to.

I’m not sure which.

All I know is that I find myself wanting to watch TV shows that are about connection, don’t leave me feeling jittery or amped up.

So I thought I’d share my favourite two with you…they’re not out of the box finds, ones that you’d never have guessed (or some strange Swedish intellectual series) so this is as much an ode to the two shows I love as it is a description of them:

Grey’s Anatomy

I starting watching Grey’s pretty much from the beginning and it’s been a love affair ever since. I love the characters (my original ‘TV friends’ as I call them to my friends). I love the powerful women – there are so many of them – and I love the storylines, which mirror the social and political themes of the day. Racial violence, domestic abuse, transgender transitions, homosexuality, gun ownership, illegal immigration…they’ve covered it all.

There was particularly powerful episode recently when the Chief, a black female woman, sought treatment for having a heart attack.

The symptoms women have when they’re having a heart attack are often different from men (they’re more likely to experience nausea and vomiting, and pain in the jaw, arm or back), yet it’s the ‘male’ symptoms that are more widely know (pain the the chest, difficulty breathing). Women are also less likely to taken seriously by a doctor – our pain is seen as less severe and we’re less likely to be believed because we’re ‘overreacting’ or ‘being dramatic’ which was reflected in the show and nearly resulted in her death.

I love that, by raising this issue as well as a myriad of other relevant social issues the show has most probably saved lives.

This is us

Oh my gosh, this programme is like food for my soul. It’s such a beautiful programme about a family, skipping back and forth through different generations and storylines to explore different themes that the characters are going through.

Dealing with bereavement, struggling with addiction, finding their way through infertility, jostling to find their place in the family, coping with anxiety.

It is beautifully written, more beautifully acted and feels like I’m watching the highlights of an actual family through their lives (albeit a family who don’t really seem to work much and whose dialogue is a bit too flawless!).

It’s one of the only shows that I sit down to watch and soak up instead of half-watching it while cooking and cleaning…

I also love how the show feels like it’s an actual reflection of society. There are lots of beautiful, slender people in it, but (and I’ve noticed because I’m sensitive to these things) the cast has an over average number of ‘real’ bodies on it – people with bumps and curves. It surprises me because it’s such an anomaly and makes me hopeful that in the future we’ll see more of society reflected on the screen so that ‘thin’ isn’t the predominant body type on TV.

So there you have it – my two favourite shows. It’s lovely to write about them and think about all the reasons why I love them.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my thoughts too!

For a million days

My parents brought back a book for Jenson from their travels to Canada earlier this year and I love it. Possibly more than Jenson does. It’s called the Alaska Lullaby and it’s a story of how much a parent loves their child. It sums up pretty much how much I love Jenson.

I love him in a heart bursting, tears streaming down my face, smile splitting way. With wonder as he gets steadier on his feet, amazement as I see his little personality shining through.

I love him with patience as he grumbles with teething pains, with back aches as I bend down so he can walk, with greater regard for his needs than my own as I spend my ‘blog time’ searching for a little shampoo bottle he’s absurdly attached to.

There’s one line in the song which I love in particular –

I love you in a million ways, I’ll love you for a million days

It pretty much sums up all that it is a mother’s love.

And although I don’t believe in the ‘God’ of any organised religion, there’s something about love which I can’t help but think has an enduring God-like power. Perhaps that’s what Christians mean when they say ‘God is love’ – they’ve attached a persona to him, but what if God is love? And when I say this, I don’t mean that it’s part of her/it/him, but that the presence of love is divine? And so when I’m able to tap into this all-consuming, unconditional love for Jenson, I’m able to feel the divinity that is love in its fiercest, truest form.

This love is something that I feel has the power to echo across the years, like the clanging of bells across the decades. Because, although I won’t be around for a million days (if I was, I’d be around for nearly 3000 years!), that’s how strong I feel this motherly love is.

It feels like an enduring love.

It’s a love so strong that it’s guiding my future and is driving me to find space in my current role (and potentially a different job in the future) to address some of the injustices that will impact him – our education system which privileges performance over passion, environmental policies which prioritise a quick buck over a sustainable world for our future children, a financial system which benefits the few despite needs of the many…I don’t know how this will manifest in my life, but I feel the urge to do something because this love isn’t passive. It’s active.

The beauty about this sort of love is that I can feel the love of others around me, enduring through the years. I know I’m enveloped in the love that my grandparents had for me despite them having passed away. The pride my grandad had for me and the comfort of my grandma’s love.

And I can feel the love that my parents have for me despite the hundreds of miles separating me from them.

This love is all there and I can’t help but feel it will be there for a million years, as will my love for my son.

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Change

I’ve just finished reading a truly beautiful book on the physiology and anatomy of love. It’s called ‘a general theory of love‘ – check it out! It may sound strange – love doesn’t sit easily in our minds as a physiological response – but love stems from the limbic part of our brain. From there flows connection, affection, love in all its bright and shadowy forms. The book is written by three doctors and looks at what love (or the absence of love) does to us in our childhood, explains the evolution that led is to become social creatures and explores our fundamental need for belonging.

I’ve found it really reassuring from an ‘attachment parenting’ viewpoint since that’s the parental style I most identify with. It’s a parenting style which includes things like co-sleeping, extended breastfeeding and responding to my son when he cries in all situations to give him comfort. But this isn’t a post about parenting, I just thought I’d mention it for all the parents out there who might like to read it!

So, what do I want to say about this book…?

Well, it’s been really helpful following my post last week where I acknowledged how difficult and arduous it has been to get to where I am with my personal journey to greater courage, truth and love.

You see, I felt frustration with how long it’s taking to change my inner patterns to respond to myself more often with patience, not anger. To look at myself with grace when I’ve slipped up. To have a default setting of unconditional love towards myself.

And this book explained from a physiological perspective why it is taking so much time. You see, when we’re children, our brains have plasticity. Our brain is able to morph and learn and grow (hence why the first 1000 days are so crucial to a child – it’s this period of time where they are able to more easily change the ‘nature’ settings – a propensity for moroseness, for example – by being nurtured to have greater levels of confidence, self-assurance and acceptance).

When we’re older, however, changes around how we view ourselves – our default settings – are harder to make as our brain has less plasticity. Our limbic brain where all the emotions come from isn’t as easily changed.

And so it takes more time – sometimes years – to rewire our brains.

Knowing this allows me to have greater patience on this path I’m on. I’m able to see that things will change in their own sweet time.

Knowing this also allows me to feel less like a failure. It’s not down to a lack of effort or ability that I’m struggling with shedding what holds me back. That I still hold on too tightly to the opinion of other people, that I find it tricky to cut myself some slack, that I sometimes talk to myself with anger instead of love.

It’s biological.

And while it doesn’t make the process any easier, it allows me to accept that this is where I am and to trust that things will change over time if I keep on keeping on.

It also gives me greater faith in the process I go through with those I coach.

There are people I’ve been working with for a year or so. I’ve seen amazing progress in their lives – some have changed their relationship with food, increased their confidence or have fostered greater love for themselves – but some still have progress they want to make. And this knowledge has allowed me to have more assurance that my role is to support them and trust in the coaching I’m doing with them. Although it may take time, they will get to where they long to be.

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Commitments

Happy Sunday everyone! Life feels a little bit unordered as I’m staying in beautiful Wales (photo below!) and so I’m not really that sure what day of the week it is and am enjoying living life without constantly looking at the clock, preparing for the next day or squeezing in bits of time for Jenson, Gregg or myself alongside work and house stuff.

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I thought I’d share with you today the three things I’ve committed to do over the coming months and years. It’s nice to share these commitments with you, dear friend, so that I’ve got a greater incentive to keep them up. I hope they’ll be good food for thought for you too!

Speak my truth

The first one is a commitment to speak my truth. Even when my voice shakes or I feel petrified at speaking up, I’ve committed to speaking up more about what I need or my thoughts about something. It’s led to some really interesting, wonderful results:

  • Telling my dad that I was exhausted and needed his help when him and my mum came to stay. Instead of pretending to be superwoman and focusing on them having a lovely time with Jenson, I reached out and he supported me by coming over early when they stayed to hold Jenson while I could rest and just potter around for a bit.
  • Saying to the people who we are staying in Wales with, who I don’t know very well, that I was going to have an hour tucked in bed, reading. Usually I would feel obliged to socialise, to check that everyone else is having a great time to the detriment of my own needs. It was lovely to have some time of rest and warmth in bed and no-one seemed to mind – it was my fear of what they’d think of me that was stopping me getting what I needed.
  • Voicing to my manager about how I feel caught between my role and my status at work sometimes. Her response, that I should keep on going as I was, means that I feel more at ease day-to-day and less preoccupied by my fears of treading on her toes as I’m ‘below’ her but often work at a higher level.
  • Speaking up about the direction of my role at work has led to some really interesting conversations about the future. It feels great to speak up and potentially be the creator of my own destiny.

Connect to my heart

Since I had the realisation that I struggle to love myself, I’ve been trying to connect more with my heart centre, where this message came from. I purposely want to quieten myself to listen to the wisdom of my heart more often and so I’ve committed to doing this regularly. I’ve got plenty of time to do this as I rock Jenson to sleep in the evening. All it takes is slowing my breathing and stilling the chattering of my mind so I can hear what my heart is telling me.

  • That I am enough just as I am
  • That all will be ok
  • That I am worthy of love and acceptance

Words of love that nourish my soul.

Power

I don’t know if I shared this with you, but I’ve also realised how much I give away my power to people. Not my power at work or at home that I have due to status as professional, wife, daughter or sister, but my internal power which is my anchor. The sort of power that you can feel in your stomach area that you use to stand strong and that you might muster before an interview or a situation where you need to bring it.

During a recent coaching session I realised how much I gave my power away and so I’ve committed to doing that less. Being less agreeable, apologising less (when there’s no reason for saying sorry), stopping myself from trading my power for others’ approval.

I’ll perhaps write about this more in the future, how I’m keeping my own power instead of giving it away.


So there you are – the things I’m currently committed to working on. I’m aware that these areas are long-term, stumble-and-get-back-up-again, tricky stuff. They’ve been with me for so long – giving away my power, ignoring my heart and staying quiet but it doesn’t mean that they have to be with me for the rest of my life.

So here I go, starting now and keen to see what the future brings.

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Creator of my own destiny

I had another amazing coaching session yesterday morning with my coach. Honestly, if you have something you want to make progress on, I’d really encourage you to get a coach. I can do a free coaching trial session for anyone interested or can link you up with a coach (potentially a free trainee one) if you think that we know each other too well and you wouldn’t feel comfortable working with me. But I’m not here to talk about coaching…I’m here to share what happened in my session. So here I go!

I’ve noticed in myself that I have a propensity for taking on too much of other people’s stuff. With almost a saviour complex (albiet a well-meaning one), I often feel responsible for other people’s happiness. From trying to avoid my parents having arguments when I was younger to taking on responsibility for people enjoying themselves at social events, to trying to bend myself in half to get people to be happy with what I do at work. It’s how I’ve always been.

I want to change but don’t know how.

When talking to my coach about this situation, I couldn’t see how I could be anything other than the two polar opposites that I described as this:

At one end, caring so much that I take on everyone’s stuff and at the other, not giving a damn about anyone or anything. 

We talked about the assumptions I make – that people want to be rescued, that it’s my responsibility to change stuff, that people aren’t able to make changes in their own lives…and it surfaced a thought I’ve been having for quite some time about how so much in life – our education, job hierarchies, the way society works – seems to breed a false impression that we are unable to change our own lives.

You’ve probably known people who hate their job (or you may recognise this in yourself!). They find it boring or think they’re underpaid or are frustrated by it on a daily basis. But they don’t do anything about it. They stay there stuck, moaning, unhappy, resentful of what they have to do.

But it’s not like they’re imprisoned in their job. They could do something to change their situation. They could look for a new job, talk to their manager about changing some of the things they do, start proactively changing how things are done, volunteer to get involved with other stuff at work to mix up their day, cultivate gratitude for what their job does give them (a pay-check, stability, nice co-workers, ability to pay rent/buy food for their family).

I’m not saying this from a privileged place, never having been unsatisfied at work myself. I know how hard this can be. I’ve been stuck in a job for what seemed like far too long whilst I searched for a new one that suited me better. It sometimes seemed agonising but I kept on looking, got some coaching to figure out what I wanted to do, kept on applying for new roles and, in doing so, I took control of my own destiny.

It paid off when I found a role – about six months down the line – that satisfied me more than I could have ever imagined.

In the same way that I did, I believe we can all take charge of our lives and shape them to our liking. We might not get there perfectly every time because of our circumstances (my new role didn’t pay more but was more mentally satisfying) but we can take small steps to improve where we are with every aspect of our lives – our relationships, health, work, money.

We are the creators of our own destinies.

And that is when inspiration struck me and I could see the middle way which was not taking on responsibility for other people’s happiness nor hardening my heart to others. In the following two phrases I outlined how I want to live my life:

I want the best for you and I know you can go out and shape your own life. 

I want the best for me and I know I can go out and shape my own life. 

It brought me such clarity. I want the best for others but my job is not to shape anyone’s life (not that anyone has ever told me they want me to!). My job is to shape my life.

With this knowledge I feel freer, less burdened and hopeful for myself and others. We all have the ability to take steps towards creating a better life for ourselves. It’s up to each and every one of us to look for opportunities and seize any chances that come our way.

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What he’s teaching me…

My little peanut is almost eight months old. I can’t believe it! He’s nearly been out in the world for longer than he was inside me growing. At times these eight months have seemed like a life sentence (sorry Jenson, but it’s true!) with sleep deprivation, inexplicable crying and endless rounds of nursery rhymes and distraction techniques to soothe him. But at times I look back and think “how can he already be two thirds of his way through his first year?!”.

One thing is for sure – he’s my biggest teacher. One I didn’t know I needed and couldn’t have planned for when he made his appearance known to me.

I was lying in bed yesterday morning, looking at my sweet boy as he slept next to me and I thought of all the things he’s teaching me…and here are the three things that spring to mind most keenly.

Patience

Oh I’ve had to be patient so often with my little one in these first eight months. When he’s up at 5:30 on most days and I want to shout to the heavens “why will my baby not sleep past daybreak?!?”. When he’s crying and I can do nothing to settle him. When I’m feeling a bit under the weather but have to bring it for him. When I cook a lovely meal for him only to have it rejected. When he wanted to be held in my arms to sleep for the first six months of his life.

Patience, he’s teaching me to have a bucketful of patience.

I’m sure there will come a day when I snap at him, yell with frustration and scream to who-knows-what about what a difficult life it is to be a parent, but for now I feel like my little guy is teaching me slowly what it means to have patience. The importance of taking a deep breath, the ability to look at the bright side of things I’m finding challenging (never have my days been so long with the early starts!), the joy of having him which makes up for all the inconveniences of parenthood.

He’s teaching me to go with the flow and let go of every notion of control I had before.

Presence

I’ve always been a planner. I’m first in line (or maybe a high second place) to plan my sister’s wedding when she meets Mr Right. I know where I’d like to be in 3 years time. I’m always looking ahead.

Too much sometimes.

And I quickly discovered that my little boy is the medicinal tonic to my future focus. He calls me to stay firmly in the present with him. Especially when I’m on my phone – how he hates it when I’m glued to the screen!

He drags me firmly into the land of now as we explore the world around us. Time speeds past as we examine our reflections in a doorknob, splash around in the bath, laugh at games we play together. When we’re together, there’s no thoughts of work or relationships or anything other than being with him.

And it’s beautiful.

Sometimes it’s frustrating too (see above for the patience he’s building in me!) as I want to gallop away to plan future stuff. But for the most part, being called to be present with him is a reprieve from how I’ve learnt to (dis)function and it’s brought so much peace to my life.

Some people pay hundreds of pounds on a retreat and in yoga or meditation classes to learn how to stay present…but I’m learning it from my baby who seems to be a natural, my own little mindfulness guru.

A different path

Becoming a mum has shown me what is truly important in life – my family, having a job that stretches me, being able to travel and explore this world. But it has also thrown so much up in the air for me as I question how I can contribute more, how I can leave this world in a better state for my boy and those who are growing up with him.

I can’t just go to work and return to be with him. It’s not my path to just do my job and return home to pour everything into my son. I feel the call to contribute more.

The weight of responsibility of being his mum has made me discover the responsibility of being a citizen of the world and has started me questioning what this means to me. Whether it’s playing a part in reforming local government and politics, the medical system, the environment or the education system, I feel something developing. A path just out of sight beyond my vision that I know I’m going to tread at some point in the future.

He has shifted my priorities and shown me a new path I never thought possible.


So here’s to my boy as he’s on the cusp of eight months old. I can’t imagine my life without him.

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Radical

I’ve been writing a few blog posts recently but they’ve not been flowing as they usually do so I’ve taken a bit of time out and hope you will forgive me, friend, for my lack of presence here.

I’ve got a window of time to myself as Gregg and Jenson play in the front room together and so wanted to quickly write about ‘Dietland’, a programme I’ve been watching in the evenings and have thoroughly enjoyed. It’s an adaptation of a book about a story of an overweight woman who finds her voice and acceptance of the body she is in as she awakens to the patriarchal messages which has caused her body shame – the need to be thin to be desirable.

I’m aware that it’s not a perfect show – the cast are mostly model-esque and it gets a bit ridiculous as the show progresses. But I really and truly enjoyed how it made me question so many parts of our society that so often go unquestioned. Why we make judgements based on woman’s looks. Patriarchal power and what it would take to have a balanced share of power. How women (have to/choose to?) alter their behaviour to be more palatable to men. All areas that interest me.

And this quote (or at least it went something like this), oh, how I love it:

“What’s more radical than a woman who accepts her body”

I’m aware that I have quite a conventional, slender body. A few curvy areas and a body that has been marked by motherhood, but as UK size 12, I’m quite ‘acceptable’. And I’ve done so much work to love and accept myself and my body exactly as I am. But I still get doubts when I look at myself at times and find myself lacking. I still tend to base part of my worth on my size. I still for some reason feel more desirable when I’m smaller.

Is it because I was told (by society/myself/peers) that my body is what matters over everything else?

Is my worth as a woman judged primarily by what I look like?

Could I radically accept my body? And if so, what would that look like? It might lead to less waxing and shaving and tweezing (a topic that made me pause and think when a friend blogged about it herself recently). It might lead to letting my grey hair grow instead of covering them up with dye. And it might lead to me getting rid of some clothes that fit me but are uncomfy.

But it’s so hard to unravel what I do for me (I like my hait a uniform colour, but is that because I’ve received the message that ‘grey=ugly’ externally? Many men don’t dye their hair when going grey) and what I do because of external messages I’ve received?

So I’m left loving considering what it would be like to radically accept my body as it is. I’ve got a cobbled together, mostly functioning acceptance of my body and so I have experience of the freedom it is to love myself unconditionally. Living like this but ramped up – fully accepting, fully loving, never doubting – sounds like bliss.

And so while I’m not able to totally unravel what that looks like, I’ll sit with the idea, ponder on these thoughts and see where it takes me.

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Cambodia

We’re just preparing to leave for Siem Reap Airport to leave Cambodia and set off for three and a half weeks in Vietnam. This first week has flown by and I’ve been surprised at how much I’ve loved this country that we tacked onto our trip almost as an afterthought.

So I want to spend a few moments reflecting on this experience with you, dear friend.

What we’ve seen

We arrived in the capital, Phnom Penh, and spent 2 full days looking around it. As many visitors do, we went to visit S21, the school where thousands of people were tortured into giving false confessions about crimes they had committed and were subsequently executed. To think that humans are capable of such atrocities, such hateful acts of violence and cruelty, is unthinkable. I don’t understand the lure of power that pushes men and women to act in such ways and it’s difficult to imagine that similar things are taking place around the world today.

After this we went to the Killing Fields, where thousands of people were killed en masse under the Khmer Rouge. Some people survived the brutality of this regime and their stories were shared on the excellent audio guide. One of these stories has stayed with me. A lady had just had a baby when the Khmer Rouge came to power. She was put to work in the fields and, on no more than a few bowls of watered down rice soup a day and hours of toiling in the fields, was unable to produce enough milk for her baby and was only able to feed him at night after 12+ hours of gruelling work. And sadly, but not surprisingly, her baby died. I cried for her – the distress she must have felt at not being able to do enough for her child, how she’s still haunted by her past to this day – and it put my challenges breastfeeding Jenson into perspective. It’s been a bit of a struggle but I’ve had access to support, time to rest up, the ability to switch to formula if needed, a supply of supplements…everything I could wish for. I’m so very lucky and I have nothing to complain about.

Travelling with a baby

Jenson has been such a delight on this trip. Sure, it’s not like a trip without a baby – I watched one film during the 17 hour flight and was stretched beyond my means when we arrived in Cambodia having only had 10 hours sleep over 2 days and was faced with a baby who was wide awake.

But it’s been as I had hoped. Jenson loves being out and about in Asia. He has smiles for everyone we meet and is content to be in his baby carrier as we explore everything around us.

He’s also been happy to have naps on the go so we’ve been able to have dinner out each night and have been up at 4am to watch sunrise over the temple of Angkor Wat. He’s been a real dream.

It’s also been amazing to see him take his first bits of food over here. A bite of some watermelon, a nibble of some vegetables (all safe stuff, before you start worrying, mum!). Seeing him grow and develop and take more and more stuff in on our journey.

Highlights

There have been so many amazing things that we’ve been lucky to see. Here’s just a few of them:

  • Cycling around the red dirt roads of rural Cambodia
  • A visit to the houses on stilts and boat ride on the Tonlé Sap lake
  • $4 massages!
  • Delicious noodle soup for breakfast
  • Exploring the temples of Angkor

So many things that have opened my eyes and brought a smile to my face.

The people

Oh how I’ve loved the Cambodian people I’ve met. They’ve been through such atrocities less than a generation ago and yet they are truly warm, welcoming and always seem to have a smile of their faces.

And they have been beautiful with Jenson. I can’t count the number of people who have asked to take photos of him or have held him whilst we’ve eaten dinner or had a massage! They are such wonderful people and they have made this time here so special.

Right, got to dash to the airport so will stop here! It’s been an incredible start to a trip of a lifetime.

Love is…

As I’m lying here awake next to my sleeping son, Jenson, curled around him at the most awkward angle so he can sleep soundly I’ve been thinking about love.

Pre-Jenson, loves was so simple. Well, not simple, but less complicated, less selfless, less of a daily choice. With hours of free time at my disposal and having so much more sleep, it was also more resourced. My capacity to give and show my love to others was greater. But things are different now and my love for others and myself looks different.

When I started to write about my new relationship with love, listing the attributes it holds, I noticed that it started out sounding like part of the bible that I remember from my childhood:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

I suppose this is describing a perfect love. One which, being an imperfect human, I do not reach. Because I can be so easily angered these days and my patience is quite often threadbare-thin when I’ve been up since 4am with a wide-awake baby.

But it does describe the love I call upon as a parent more than the love I needed before. I have more patience, I let go of the times Jenson screams for no apparent reason, I keep on going with rocking him and singing to him even when he keeps crying, I beam at him when he wakes me up at 4:30am, I put him first.

But what about my love for Gregg, my husband? With this all encompassing motherly love, I’ve felt my love for him and for other people be squeezed out. Not enough love left to give when it’s supposed to (or at least that’s what I thought) be a never ending source. It’s not that I don’t love him, but I have less love to give.

What’s going on with that?! I mean, I know I love him and I love other people but I feel so drained and empty from all the love I give Jenson. As I’ve shared before, sometimes even reaching out to give my husband a cuddle or a kiss seems too much because I’m so worn down from pouring all my love onto a little human who doesn’t like to be put down by himself, doesn’t want to sleep away from my arms and loves to be sung to, treasured and interacted with for a large proportion of the day…

The old Amy would have said that I just needed time to replenish myself. Space to blog instead of snatching moments when my husband has him at the weekend or he’s asleep in my arms. Time to process and be kind to myself. A nice long bath by myself with a good book. But that’s not practical at the moment.

And if we lived closer to our families or close friends, it would be possible to get some time just as a couple. It’s the price we pay for living in a city we love, far away from family.

We could ask friends in Brighton but Jenson is so demanding (sorry Jenson if you read this when you’re older – it’s true! You are a demanding little pickle!) that it doesn’t seem easy to ask that of others. An hour looking after Jenson is an hour of actively bouncing him, singing, stopping him cry…although it could be an hour of him playing calmly under his activity gym – it’s so unpredictable.

I know this is a phase in early parenthood which will pass. Too soon I’ll be thinking back to and missing the moments when Jenson would sleep in my arms. And along with the tiredness and strain, it is true that I’ve found a very new and beautiful love that I never knew I had inside me.

It’s just more complicated, that’s all.