The stories I tell myself

I had the most inspiring conversation with my chief executive yesterday. It’s left me with so much to ponder that I’m left thinking about it (and feel called to talk about it) at 3am as I’m awake feeding and holding my son.

I’m sat here in appreciative thanks and gratitude that I’m in a role where I get time and insight into someone I see as deeply inspirational and wise. That I have the opportunity to learn from his wisdom and that I even get some of his time is not something I take for granted. It’s a privilege.

He’s the one who let me borrow the book ‘presence’ which I wrote about recently. And he is the one who yesterday articulated what I’ve sensed myself for a while:

The only thing that will hold you back is the stories you tell yourself

  • The story that I’m not good enough
  • The story that I can’t lead because of so many reasons – my call to explore and share my vulnerability, not having a ‘business’ background, not being the finished product
  • The story that intrinsically being who I am (female, with a big heart, someone who cares, with a background of sometimes poor mental health) sets me up to have less impact on the world
  • The story that I’m 34, it’s too late for me to start something big in life
  • The story that I have to choose between being a great mum and making a difference in this world
  • The story that I’m only as good as my most recent mistake
  • The story that people will realise that I’m an imposter
  • The story that I’m only as good as how much people like me
  • The story that the deep work I do here will hold me back professionally
  • The story that being vulnerable and real is weak
  • Uncovering and vocalising these things – areas that have more or less weight in my life at different times (sometimes on a minute by minute basis) – shows them for what they are.
  • Just stories.
  • Stories that could influence and impact my life. Or stories I could realise are not reality and gently let go of.
  • It’s what I’m doing as I receive coaching on a fortnightly basis. Uncovering these stories and letting them go.
  • And it’s what I’m offering to the wonderful people I have the honour to coach myself.
  • We all have stories we tell ourselves – it’s only these stories that have the power to hold us back.
  • Four months in

    I’m sat here in the dead of night (my greatest blogging time since the arrival of my son!) thinking about parenthood. The four month sleep regression has hit my household with force, coupled with potential teething, and things are pretty tough.

    Not a ‘I can’t cope’ tough but a ‘this is really unpleasant’ tough. I’m tired, it sucks being up in the night so much and am feeling slightly buffeted around from the tremendous highs of love that I feel for this little guy and the deep lows of feeling stretched beyond my means and super crabby from lack of sleep.

    And here are some of my mid-night thoughts about it all…sorry if it comes across as ranty, but here it is!

    You do what you can do

    I spend a lot of time walking around with Jenson as that’s when he seems the happiest. Able to stare at the world and take it all in, he’s pretty content this way. I think that I’m setting myself up for years of having to be constantly on the go and already feel the pavement pounding in my knees. But as a good friend recently joked, he’s not going to be 16 and still need to be walked to sleep. You do what you can do to get through the current situation and that’s ok.

    Parenting books are bullshit

    Well, not all of them. I’ve read a lovely one that’s called ‘the kind sleeping book’ and is really helpful in thinking about sleep in general. But the ones I read before are irrelevant and unhelpful. They peg babies into generalised groups and is about as helpful as sweeping statements like “all men are bad at X” or “all HR professionals are ‘people’ people”. Nope, babies are individual and you need to treat them as such.

    Intuition is key

    How I parent is as individual as how I decide to dress or what beliefs I hold. As much as all babies are different, all parents are different. So there’s no manual that can tell you what to do. You just have to use your intuition.

    For example, you’ll know if you read my blog about how Jenson has struggled to put on weight. He’s in the 9th percentile (9th lowest weight grouping based on all baby weight) but is as bright as a button, feeds lots and isn’t overly sleepy or lacking in energy. I’ve been worried by his weight but I know in my gut that he’s well. I know that he’s very vocal and if he was hungry would be constantly crying as he did at the start when he had a tongue tie and couldn’t feed enough.

    So I’m learning that I need to trust my intuition because there’s so much in the world, so much contradictory information, that could cause me to worry if I don’t trust myself and follow my gut.

    Sleep when you can

    I can’t really sleep in the day because Jenson usually naps while I’m I’m on the go, walking somewhere around town. But with sleep becoming rarer and rarer in my life I’ve started to go to bed earlier. And when my bedtime creeps to 10:30 or later I invariably regret my decision to watch one more episode of whatever it is I’m devouring.

    To get through the next few months, especially the return to work with a baby who is still co-sleeping, I’ll need to put my sleep first. Even if that means I do little other than just be.

    Opinions aren’t facts

    A friend of mine, as I was telling her about not feeling able to be physically affectionate to Gregg as much as I used to be, indicated that I should be putting more effort in with him.

    And I should.

    But I didn’t need to hear those words from her or feel judged during a really trying period of life. As my good friend Charlie said to me yesterday, it’s still so early on, I am allowed to feel ‘touched out’ after a day of carrying, cuddling and holding Jenson close to me in a sling.

    This time will pass and we’ll get back to where we were in time. Yes, I should make more effort with Gregg, but I know he understands the pressure I’m feeling and it’s ok if I can’t be the perfect wife at this time in my life.

    Selfishness is ok

    I’ve dragged myself out of the house sometimes when I’ve felt I would have preferred a day snuggled up or when Jenson was napping. And when I’ve been around friends and family who have taken Jenson off my hands for a bit, I’ve been on edge, hoping they’re ok and coping with my little diva prince.

    I also probably let people visit far too soon when Jenson was born. Time when I was trying to get my balance as a new mum and was still feeling vulnerable and unsteady and needed to just cocoon.

    During these first few months, my one regret is that I haven’t been selfish enough. I haven’t said ‘no’ enough or put my needs and those of Jenson first.

    It’s strange got me to think “I wish I had been more selfish” but is also really telling of how hard it is to be a new mum.

    Even at 2am, one smile from Jenson makes the world right

    Being a mother is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. The simplest thing – play, feed, burp, change a nappy, sing to, kiss and cuddle, sleep, repeat – but also the hardest.

    It’s all made worthwhile though when I see his cheeky grin at 5am, when I hear him coo or take a new step in the world.

    I’m head over heels for him and no sleeplessness or challenging times can take that away from me.