The promise of spring

A few people have asked me if I mind going back to work just when summer arrives. You see, I’m sharing my maternity leave with my husband and he’s taking 6 months off from July onwards to look after our son instead of me taking the full year off.

I have to say, I’m not sad about ‘missing’ summer at all. Because I’m so glad that I’m out and about with my son and get to experience all of spring in it’s splendour. It’s the season I love the most.

There’s so much promise for me when I look at the spring season starting to unfurl. Trees sprouting little buds of leaves, cherry blossoms coming into bloom and the sun appearing earlier and setting later.

Unlike many people, I don’t get fed up of winter and the cold, because I get to enjoy the frosty and festive lead-up to Christmas when it starts to get dark and cold and once New Year has passed, I can already see the early signs of spring starting to appear. The slightly later days and early birdsong you hear on a mild winter day holds with it the promise of spring.

I’ve been thinking over the last week about how the experience of spring gives me hope on a wider level and reminds me that whatever is going on in my life, new possibilities are always around the corner. As much as there are seasons of hardship, there are also seasons of new beginnings never too far away.

When Jenson is going through an unsettled spell, I know that it will pass and he will soon be back to smiling and being content.

When I’m frustrated that I don’t have enough time to devote to taking on lots of new coaching clients, I know that there will come a time when I have my evenings and weekends back to be able to do so.

When I feel sad with the lack of community as I shared in my last blog post, I know that things will change and I’ll one day find my tribe of people in Brighton.

I’m so grateful for this season and all the promise it holds and hope you enjoy the beauty of spring too, dear friend.

Intuition

I’ve not been great at trusting my intuition, instead I’ve always tended to trust people in positions of authority. I think our education system, culture and my personality has meant that I tend to trust others and this has often manifested as trusting others more than I trust myself.

This is a tricky one to untangle but I think the crux of me trusting others more than my own intuition is this:

  1. I make assumptions about small things in life – where a restaurant is, what time a party starts, how long it will take me to get somewhere – but for the big things in life where others are depending on me being right (things at work, finances, facts), I will make sure I’m 100% certain that I’m right before offering my thoughts. So when someone else puts their opinion forward with conviction, I assume that their view is right (I mean surely they wouldn’t put their views forward if they weren’t 100% certain they were right?!). But I’ve become aware that this might not always be the case – they may not be right.
  2. I also used to think in absolutes – that there was a ‘right’ answer to everything. But my thinking has changed and I know that there are multiple answers to everything and I believe that one person’s right might be another person’s wrong.
  3. I’ve never liked confrontation very much or disagreeing with other people. As a coping mechanism – to not have to disagree with anyone – I’ve tended to let go of my opinions in favour of other people’s views. But I know that this isn’t how I want to live.

And so I know that I need to start listening to my own intuition more. And now is exactly the right time as a mother navigating the many and varied polarised views about parenting. There’s so much that I need to form an opinion on at the moment – feeding, whether to use a dummy or not, sleeping, how much stimulation he needs, the types of nappies we use, weaning, nurseries… So many decisions that need to be made and so many people weighing in with their opinions about what is best.

In order to trust my intuition about these things, I know that I need to address some of what I’ve explored above – getting better at confrontation, reminding myself that there are very few absolutes in life and practice living by the very eloquent words of the hiphop artist Chipmunk (is he still around?!) in the song Champion:

“opinions aren’t facts take them in and let them go”

And I also know that I need to trust my intuition about how to start trusting my intuition – I hope that makes sense! There are so many books, blogs, videos and people who have their own opinions about so many things. They can drown out my own instincts about what is best for me and my family. So I’m going to have a hiatus from reading, watching, following all these things in order to get some quiet and space to understand what is right for me.

One of my coaching clients made a really great point when we last spoke – how it’s better to start making small incremental changes instead of going for 100% perfection. And so I’m also going to take her very wise advice and work on trusting my instincts with trying to get my son, Jenson, to fall asleep by himself in the daytime.

And that’s what I did yesterday.

I put Jenson down in his bed when his eyes were red-rimmed and he was milk-drunk tired. He is used to sleeping on me and let me know he didn’t like this new arrangement by crying. I set my timer to 5 minutes – a time I was comfortable leaving him to grizzle (as long as it wasn’t the distressed cry that I recognise and would always respond to). But before the timer was up he stopped crying for a few moments and sat peacefully by himself before starting to grizzle again. And on this went for about 15 minutes until he went to sleep and had a 30 minute nap.

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I’d felt nervous about trying this but it showed me that I could set my own parameters – only leaving him when he was grizzling – and that my intuition that he was able to sleep alone was right.

And oh the things I did in those 30 minutes (I wonder how I spent my time before he came along!) – made and ate lunch, hung out the washing, wrote most of this, responded to some e-mails, sat in quiet for a moment. It was totally worth trusting my intuition for me to find some alone time in the day and for Jenson to learn to soothe himself – a skill I think is really important for him.

I know that this approach is not for everyone – some of my mum friends aren’t even considering leaving their little one to self-settle if it involves them crying until they are much older. But that’s what intuition is about, right? Knowing that we are individuals who will have different views, opinions, needs. And trusting ourselves that we will make the right judgement call…and that it’s ok if once in a while we get the call wrong.

It’s all about learning.

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Axis shifting

It’s been almost four weeks since my son came into this world and everything has been dominated by him pretty much. Blogs awkwardly typed in as he napped on my chest, conversations with half my brain focused on him, hours spent staring in amazement at what I created, endless conversations about what he’s been up to (“I think he’s making eye contact with me now” “he discovered his fingers today” “he sat by himself for a whole 30 minutes!”). 

I was writing a thank you card to a family friend for the kind present they had given Jenson last night and in it I wrote “parenthood is going well – it’s very different though and it feels like our whole universe has been shifted on it’s axis”.

I wasn’t really thinking that hard about the words that I was writing, but when I re-read the letter, I think that the axis shifting sums up these past four weeks. My life axis has shifted.

The same universe exists, with a small new planet orbiting around – planet Jenson – but instead of me being at the centre of the solar system, he is there. It doesn’t mean to say that any of the other planets, moons and suns stop spinning around (apart from those which may drop out of orbit for a while – ‘planet full night of sleep’ ‘planet full day spent lying on the sofa watching netflix when poorly or feeling very lazy’ 😉 ) or that they are any less important to me and my life.

But something has changed and I’m just starting to realise the magnitude of it.

My life has changed for good. My axis has shifted.

And sometimes I might need a moment to just acknowledge that. Especially on days like today when I am feeling a little under the weather. Or on days where I have slept less than usual. Or just on day that feel harder than usual.

Everything has changed for the immeasurable good and sometimes what seems like the impossibly difficult.

My axis has shifted.

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