Boundaries

For the past ten days, I have been part of an online challenge with other mothers, focused on tapping more into our intuition. I’ve enjoyed connecting with others, reflecting on the questions set for us (such as ‘what would your ideal life look like?’ and ‘what are the words that your inner critic says to you?’).

The question that impacted me the most was ‘where have you been criticised as a parent and what did you do about it?’. I reflected on the criticism I received from someone about my choice to co-sleep with Jenson, a choice which we intent to make for the foreseeable future.

I don’t think it was meant purposely to hurt me – I imagine that it was a throwaway comment that the other person made but it has stuck with me and influenced how I feel about them.

It made me retreat, trust them less, not want to spend as much time in their presence.

And that also makes me sad.

As I reflected on this in the group, the facilitator asked me what it would take to restore this relationship.

Straight away, I knew what it would take.

Boundaries

And in knowing that, I was made aware that it’s not really anything about them.

It’s more about me.

Knowing what my boundaries are and respecting myself by sticking to them.

And really when I think about it, there’s only one boundary –

I listen to myself and respect my wishes and limits

It’s so simple.

And yet so hard for me as someone who has lived so many years living for what I think other people need and hasn’t listened to my own inner compass.

So I’ve taken some time to ask myself what I need to put this boundary into practice in my life…

Listen to my body

Often I’m not sure what I want, but I’ll feel some resistance in my body if what is going on isn’t right for me.

A tightness in my throat, an unease in my tummy, a quickening of my pulse.

My body knows before my consciousness does that I’m stepping outside of what is right for me and I need to learn to listen to it.

An example of this is something that happened at work on Thursday, when I was speaking to a senior leader. We were discussing something to happen in the future and what was agreed didn’t sit well with me. My throat went tight and I went a bit hot.

So I listened to what was going on and spoke up.

It turns out I had reason for feeling as I did and, as a result we changed our plans.

Take my time

I’m so unused to listening to myself and my desires. And as such, I acknowledge it’ll take time to understand what is going on for me.

It’ll take time to listen to my body and translate what I need – whether that is to be heard, to listen to myself, to do something different, to acknowledge and communicate a need I have.

And that’s ok.

With any new skill, it takes time to master it.

So I need to give myself that time.

Be brave

The scariest thing about having this boundary of acting in the way that I need is speaking up for myself.

But it is possible.

An example of this which springs to mind was when I was going to London to meet my mum a few weeks ago.

It was a belated mother’s day present to spend the day together but I was on my knees with exhaustion. We’d made plans to visit a graveyard that my mum wanted to see and had talked about doing a number of other things together. But I knew that I needed a relaxing day without jumping from plan to plan to plan, and so I spoke up and said that.

Knowing she might be a bit disappointed that her day was being monopolised by my needs.

But I also knew that I was likely to crack if we spent the day running from one thing to the next and so I spoke up.

I said that I needed us to take a more relaxed pace.

And that’s what we did.

She heard me and, as we took it easy, I was able to be fully present with her.

I didn’t have to contort myself into the Amy who was ‘fun’, ‘up-for-anything’, ‘without a care in the world’ – the Amy I wasn’t at that moment.

And it increased my level of trust in and love for her. Knowing that she is willing to meet my needs. Seeing that she is able to hear me and meet me where I am.

No other option

It’s a scary thing to vocalise what I need instead of pushing my needs down to accommodate others.

But the truth is that this isn’t a choice any more.

I’ve ventured into the realm of speaking my truth and, like a butterfly who has burst from its chrysalis, there’s no going back.

There’s no way that I can contort myself into having no needs.

There’s no way I can live to just please other people.

And so on I will go – setting my boundaries, stumbling and getting things wrong but then getting back up again and moving forward.

And I hope the relationships that have been broken or damaged because of my lack of boundaries might be built back up.

I’m not sure if it’s possible, but I can only try.

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Wisdom from my tomatoes

Strange title of a blog post, eh? But it’s one that I’ve been pondering on my ride to work.

Thinking of the tender tomato plants I grew inside my house.

Sheltered from the wind and the rain.

Given access to water, feed and sunlight.

Protected to grow tall, stretched towards the sky.

And yet who have all snapped as they have been moved into the garden.

Unprepared for the elements.

Too delicate for this world.

And I see the gnarled, thick-stemmed plants who have continued to grow, despite being abandoned outside as saplings who were in my ‘B’ team.

Unlikely to grow so left in the garden where they have adapted.

Grown thick to protect against the rain.

Become hairy-stemmed to protect against being nibbled from garden creatures.

Bent over to not be tossed around in the wind.

I think about myself

How it is through the conditions I’ve lived through – the storms I’ve weathered of anorexia, orthorexia, people-pleasing, finding myself in the patriarchal society, stepping out, stepping into conflict, abandoning old beliefs, learning to stop numbing – that has made me strong.

I am here, who I am, because of these storms.

I think of my son

And how my job is not to protect him, lock him away, enable him to not have to deal with the brutalities of this world.

It is to provide good soil for him.

To water his spirit when there’s not enough abundance around him.

To bring him up in an environment that allows his growth – the human equivalent of sun, clean air, protection from the wind.

Love

Acceptance

Us role modelling the behaviours we want to instil in him – setting healthy boundaries, being self-accepting, following our passions.

I’m amazed by how these outdoor plants have thrived.

They’ve been knocked down, buffeted around, left out in the elements.

And likewise, I take a moment to recognise how I’ve thrived despite challenges in my life.

In part due to the conditions my parents provided for me to grow up in – secure in their love for me – and in part due to the trials-by-fire that I’ve gone through and emerged stronger.

I’ve got enough

I’m nearing the end my year of not shopping. Not unnecessarily buying clothing, toiletries, nail varnish, books, stationary. All the things that would be nice to have but I don’t need.

I’ve bent my rules a little over the year, buying ebooks that I want to read, especially when my library doesn’t have a copy on hand, and I’ve bought four items knowingly – a teething necklace (complete waste of time), a dress (lovely but I didn’t need it), a lip stain (good purchase, but I could have coped without) and a notebook which was on sale and I’ll keep for when I need one.

But apart from these three items, I’ve let numerous other ones go. Wanting to jump into a purchase but holding back and finding, after the initial urge, that I didn’t really need them.

I’ve also changed the way I buy for others, not just throwing money at things because I need to buy them a present but asking what they want if I don’t know and learning that my worth is not connected to my skill of present buying.

And while I think I’m going to relax my rules and allow myself to buy in charity shops across the year, I’m going to keep going with my ‘stopping shopping’ lifestyle.

And here’s why:

I’ve been reading a book called ‘doughnut economics’ – I’d highly recommend it. It shows how current economic theory, built on continued growth as it’s defining measure, isn’t viable for ongoing life on Earth.

We need to find a sweet spot between people having enough to survive (access to water, healthcare, education, food, social support networks) and not pushing our planet above the threshold of what it can sustain (leading to climate change, ocean acidification, air pollution).

There is a balance, and it’s found through churning out less.

It’s found through valuing what can’t be bought. Finding happiness in connection, contentment in having just enough.

And that’s what I’ve discovered this year – I have enough already. A roof over my head, enough food to eat, clothes on my back, meaningful work, a family I love.

I actually have more than enough – means to take a holiday, a salary that pays enough for me to work a reduced week and still cover my mortgage, enough to save a bit away for Jenson.

I do wonder whether this experience of mine shows just how privileged I am. I have the ability to shop, I just choose not to. Whilst others don’t have that luxury…but I am where I am and I’m trying to do my part.

I’m coming from a place of privilege but what I’ve done isn’t nothing. I’ve managed something of substance through questioning how and why I consume things…

So what’s next?

I’m always one for moving onwards and upwards, but there’s maybe a lesson for me in the doughnut economics.

Finding a life which has a smaller environmental impact whilst not breaking myself through unrealistic expectations.

Yes, there’s a climate crisis which needs us all to act. But I don’t need to berate myself for not being perfectly carbon neutral.

But I can’t help but feel a ‘what next’ and I feel in my body a discomfort with the amount I fly and the environmental impact it has, which blows out of the water any environmental kindness I’m trying to make through veganism, my move to stop shopping and the eco choices I’m moving to (such as cloth nappies).

I’m also aware of how mass farming of crops is destroying our land through the use of harsh chemicals. So I’m finding myself wondering whether buying organically where possible might be something I’m called to.

But I’m going to pause for a moment and celebrate how I’ve not contributed (much) to the consumerist machine this year.

It’s a small step, but I’m doing my part, and that feels pretty good.

What small thing could you do, friend? We all need do our part, however small, if we’re to save the world.

Re-defining success

I was speaking to my sister this morning – what a wise one she is! I was sharing how hard I was finding life right now and talked about the standards I hold myself to. 

These standards are partly helpful – they guide me to be the best mum I can be to Jenson. But they can also be unyielding and can cause me pain as I hold myself to them regardless of what’s going on around me.

So I thought I’d list out all my standards to take a step back to see whether they’re standards I want to hold onto so tightly.

So here I go!

Standards

  • Jenson shouldn’t watch very much TV – it’s a last resort when I’m running late, not something to make my life easier
  • I need to talk to him as much as possible, a running commentary of what I’m doing if I’ve got nothing to say to him
  • I should enjoy all my time with my son
  • I must speak French to him – it’s an important gift to pass to him
  • I have to be fixed so I don’t pass on my struggles – comfort eating, avoidance of confrontation, people pleasing, lack of boundaries – onto him
  • I should be able to cope at all times and never loose my temper with him
  • He needs to spend loads of time outside – there are studies about how children aren’t nearly as active anymore and I’m a bad mum if I don’t take him out

As I list them here, I feel such relief at thinking “I don’t need to hold onto these things. They’re not mine”.

And I love what I saw on twitter this morning linked to this very topic:

Screen Shot 2019-06-23 at 14.05.01.png I love the final point from Beth – re-define success.

What if the standard (and definition of success) I held myself to were to model what it means to be a person who puts their wellbeing first.

  • About TV, I’d ask whether I needed a moment for myself that morning/afternoon/evening. If so, I’d put the TV on for a little bit. It’s not going to kill him.
  • About constantly talking to him, I’d ask myself what I needed in the moment and what my son needed. Some meaningful interaction – singing and dancing, reading a book, chasing around – or some time in silence as I walk somewhere or just potter around. Both are ok. I’d know it was about balance.
  • About enjoying time with him, I’d ask what I needed to enjoy my time with my him. And that probably is an acceptance that it’s not going to be enjoyable all the time (especially when I’m playing peepo with him for the 1,000th time, that shit gets old!)
  • About speaking French, I’d continue to speak French to him – my imperfect, messy French, because it is a gift that I’m keen to pass to him. But I’d also look out for other French parents to hang out with so I don’t feel so alone in it.
  • About worrying about passing my issues onto him, I’d know that worrying about this wasn’t doing me any favours in dealing with them, so I’d speak kindly to myself and remind myself that it’s not the whole truth. I’ll pass on some of my habits that I’d rather not pass onto him, but I’ll also pass on the good. My passion, my ethical compass, my love of cooking, my book wormery, my kindness, my strength.
  • About coping, I’d know that I’m not able to cope all the time and that it’s ok. The most important thing is showing him how to get back up. How to apologise when I shout at people or am short with others and self-kindness to myself when times are hard.

I’d know that I’m doing my best. My god-damn best. And that’s all that is important.

And as I read this, I feel overcome with emotions. I feel a relief knowing that life can be different.

That I can rewrite my story.

And yes, I’ll probably fall as I try to do the above, but that’s part of it, right?

Falling down but then getting back up and trying again.

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Good boy

I’m just on my way back home from a gorgeous wedding of close friends, Jake and Ash.

It was lovely to have a few hours away from parenthood as my husband and I danced up a storm and didn’t have any parental responsibility for an afternoon.

But despite being away from my little poppet, I was still thinking about him.

More specifically about the phrase ‘good boy’.

I’ve heard Jenson’s nursery workers use that phrase when praising him for something he’s done and I’ve heard others tell him that he’s a ‘good boy’ for similar circumstances.

But it sticks in my throat when I hear someone say ‘good boy’ to him and it’s not something I say to him when he’s shown skill or kindness or compliance.

Because I want to know that he is intrinsically good.

Regardless of his skill, kindness or compliance with my desires.

Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t mean I’ll give him a free pass to do whatever he likes or that I don’t acknowledge what he’s done well.

If he does something out of line, I’ll say ‘that wasn’t nice’ or ‘be gentle please’.

And I say ‘bravo’ (I speak to him in French, this isn’t a reflection of my gentleman’s english!) or ‘bien fait’ – well done when he’s done something well.

I say the behaviour is out of line instead of saying he is out of line for doing something I disapprove of.

And I say the behaviour good instead of telling him he is good for doing something I approve of.

It’s semantics, but I think it’s important nevertheless.

Because I want him to grow up knowing that he is good.

Regardless of what he has done or not done.

Words do not do justice to the strength I feel for these words and the intensity of desire I have for him to know that he is good.

Because I believe this is a foundation – the belief that he is good – which is key for him to stand strong in life.

To feel able to follow his heart instead of hustling for the approval of others.

To not overly question his decisions but to trust his instincts.

To be happy in his own skin knowing that he is ok just as he is.

Part of me thinks ‘is this really important enough for me to raise this with his nursery?’

It’s just semantics.

And it’s not the only thing that will decide whether he has good self-esteem or a knowledge that he is fine as he is.

It’ll be Gregg and I showing him that we love ourselves, trust ourselves, believe we’re intrinsically ok.

It’ll be us respecting him and giving him enough freedom as he makes decisions for himself.

It’ll depend on us engaging in dialogue when he questions our boundaries.

Not to bend to his will, but to show him that he has a voice, is important, is intrinsically worthy of love and respect.

But stopping the ‘good boy’ comments seem like a good start.

And my gut tells me to raise it with his nursery.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts, dear friend.

Trust myself

I’m on a weekend away with my husband’s extended family. I suppose being married to him, they’re also my extended family, which is lovely to think about as I adore them.

But in the lead-up to coming away, I was feeling the same anxiety I always have in the lead-up to going away. The kind where I feel like eating the entire contents of my cupboard to squash the intensity of the feelings inside.

And yesterday, I asked myself why this was – what was the reason behind how I was feeling?

And I realised that in the past a weekend away would have been a weekend of squashing myself.

Bending in each and every way to make sure I chatted to everyone, tried to make everyone feel included, people pleased at each and every turn.

Even if this wasn’t anyone’s expectations of me, this is what I did. I didn’t know how to be any different.

It included me going along with the crowd consensus even if the activity suggested wasn’t what I wanted to do.

And I’d have ended what should have been a beautiful weekend feeling depleted and sucked-dry of the little energy I had started the weekend with.

Or perhaps the weekend would have surprised me and I’d come away feeling recharged and energised from the conversations I’d had.

Either way, I’d always feel anxious in the lead-up to time with other people.

But yesterday, I reassured myself that this wouldn’t be the case.

I know myself better than I ever have done before.

I love myself and am able to look out for what I need in any given situation.

I advocate for what it is that I need.

But this is still new – loving myself and allowing myself what it is that I need in any situation – and so I am aware that I’m still building up trust in myself.

Trust that I will listen to myself.

Trust that I will be aware in the moment when I want to make conversation to fill the silence in between. And instead of peddling, hustling, finding things to say and questions to ask, I’ll allow myself to hold the silence.

Trust that I will do whatever it is in that moment that I want to do.

And that’s exactly how I find myself this morning.

Having listened to myself, I’m now alone in the house having some peace and quiet – time for reflection and quiet and stillness – while other people are out and about exploring the area, visiting crazy model villages and walking in the countryside.

I listened to what I needed and said ‘no thank you, I’m going to stay inside and have some time to myself‘ when people were making plans for the morning.

And so while I still felt the anxiety in the lead-up to this weekend, I know that it’s ok.

Because I recognise that trust takes time to build up, even trust in myself.

And I know that I will get there.

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Shoutout to my ex(es)

I was cycling to the train station this morning, listening to ‘Shoutout to my Ex’ and smiled thinking about all I’ve learnt from past relationships.

It was a bittersweet moment, mostly sweet, now that I’m over a decade past my last relationship outside of my marriage.

In my first significant relationship, I remembered how I listened to my boyfriend telling me how I wasn’t thin enough, well dressed enough, didn’t have nice enough hair, how my friends weren’t good enough, how my French wasn’t perfected enough.

How I wasn’t enough.

When I look back on this relationship, I think it was emotionally abusive and when it ended, I remember thinking how I would never let someone treat me in the same way.

I was worth more than being with someone who was essentially trying to change everything about me to fit into some sort of ‘acceptable’ version of myself.

And it’s something I’ve never gone back to. Sure, I’ve told myself frequently that I’m not enough (something I’m working on) but I’ll not stand for anyone else saying these sorts of hurtful things to me.

My other significant relationship taught me to put myself first.

Not in a selfish, stampeding over others way. But I truly believe that everyone’s job is to look after themselves in relationships so they can be the best person they’re able to be for the other person.

With this relationship I put his happiness first. I bent backwards to accommodate him and his needs – some very serious needs since he suffered from clinical depression.

I crushed myself into a little ball within myself so that there was more space for him.

I didn’t state my needs and stand firm with the expectation that they should be met to the same extent that his needs were being met by me.

I remember the first time I said ‘I love you‘ to him was when he was going through a period of bad depression. We were lying on his bed and he was so low he couldn’t even speak.

I cared for him so much and wanted to fix him. But that wasn’t what my role should be as his girlfriend.

I look back at that moment and internally cringe at what my younger self was setting herself up for. If I could have a re-do, what I would have said was ‘I really care for you and love you, but you’re in no position to be in a relationship right now. You need to focus on getting yourself healthy. And when you’re there, come look me up.

But I’m glad for that experience looking back because it taught me to put myself first when it comes to my significant other.

Without doing that, I’m good for no one.

I met my husband, Gregg, not long after breaking up with this final ex, and because of this experience of putting myself last, I was forthright about what I wanted and didn’t want.

And to my surprise, Gregg was into it.

He was ok with me being clear about my expectations, setting out what I wanted and what was acceptable for me.

And whilst this relationship isn’t perfect, it’s a pretty awesome one.

So I’m giving a shout out to my exes.

Thank you for what you taught me and for how that’s taken me to where I am now.

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I showed up

I arranged a meet-up for likeminded mamas who wanted to gain more balance in their lives this Saturday just passed. (I wrote about what it’s for here).

As I was waiting for strangers I didn’t know would show up or not, wondering if this was the biggest mistake for how I was choosing to spend some precious alone time on a Saturday afternoon, I spoke these words to myself:

Whatever happens today, I’m showing up.

I’m choosing to gain more balance in my life.

I’m deciding to take action so that my life is not just work, Jenson and mindless zombie staring at a TV screen in the evening.

And so I showed up and, with the three other mothers who came along, I got real value from our time together.

I heard stories of different couples and realised that I am not my best self with Gregg a lot of the time –

  • Grumpy if I have too little sleep
  • Unbearable if I’m hungry
  • So bent up on ‘alone time’ that I can argue over Jenson like he’s a commodity (“you had 2 hours of alone time yesterday, I want exactly that time to myself today”)
  • So that was a great realisation, something I can be aware of and perhaps try to change.
  • During our time together, I also explored where I wanted to get more balance in my life and here’s what I decided:
  • I committed to planning a date night with Gregg over the next month and promised to spend a few hours each Wednesday evening doing something I enjoy which isn’t sitting in front of the TV like a zombie. It most probably will be blogging, cooking, painting my nails, learning something new, exercising, having a bath, calling a friend for a chat…something that nourishes me.
  • I also got a glimpse of what I could work on over the coming weeks and months – regaining more intimacy with my husband (sorry family, if you’re reading this!), committing to spending less on coffee, having slightly less sugar in my diet, reconnecting with my emotions…
  • In those two hours, I understood the power of meeting as a group of women instead of as a group of mums – supporting each other, challenging each other, gaining new perspectives on things.
  • And although we shared our struggles and threw in some funny stories of our lives, I felt the same thing that one of the participants shared – how it felt different to a usual mum meet-up because we were focused on outcomes.
  • We weren’t merely saying what was tough in our life and getting emotional support, we were each challenged to say ‘so what next?! What am I going to do about this?!’ in whatever big or small way.
  • It felt so good to meet up with other mums and I can’t wait for our next meet-up in four weeks time.
  • Noticing

    This morning I FaceTimed my beautiful, brave sister who has just moved to Australia to pursue an adventure of living over there this year.

    When I asked her how she was doing, she told me that she was feeling a little bit homesick today. Not an unexpected feeling for someone who has moved the other side of the world and had a life in Bristol which was surrounded by more friends than I would know what to do with!

    We’re so alike in some ways – our voices, our dazzling looks 😉 , our values – but in others, we couldn’t be more alike, with her having a massive group of friends and me preferring the company of one or two people. Me driven by doing and her happy to just be. Her more chilled, me more intense.

    Anyway, enough of that detour into the difference between me and my sister!

    I’ve been thinking about that conversation on-and-off today and wish in that conversation I’d said to her ‘I’m really sorry to hear that you’re feeling homesick. Do you want to talk about it and is there anything I can do?’

    Instead, I peddled on with the conversation, distracted by what she had shared. Almost like a voice in my head saying ‘make her happy but don’t talk about the homesickness! Gah, what will I do if she’s not ok? How can I solve this?

    Distracting thoughts. Thoughts coming from love for her, but mostly due to my discomfort with things not being perfect and easy-breezy fine.

    I’d do anything for my sister, but in my early morning brain fog my brain didn’t work fast enough to notice what I was doing – avoiding my emotions. Letting my fear of not being enough for her in that moment run away with me, my awkwardness at her not being 100% and naming what was going on for her.

    But I’m noticing it now and I know that there will be a day, hopefully in the not too distant future where my brain will engage and I’ll be able to notice in the moment what is going on.

    And when that day comes, I’ll say ‘I’m sorry to hear you’re feeling homesick and I’m noticing that I’m jumping to wanting to solve everything for you so that your life is perfect…but life isn’t meant to be perfect and I know that’s not what you’re asking of me. So what can I do? What do you need from me?

    One day I’ll notice in the moment and until then I’ll try to be kind to myself and remind myself that I’m doing my best.

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    Almost a year

    It’s been almost a year since I became a mum. Where has that time gone by?!

    And as Jenson’s birthday approaches, I wanted to take some time to reflect on how these 11 and a half months have been for me…

    Sleep

    Ha, the first thing I think about because it’s the thing lacking the most in my life with Jenson on the scene!

    How I wish I knew how easy I had it before Jenson came on the scene. Eight hours of interrupted sleep each night – on the weekends, I’d be well into the double digits of hours slept. Even when pregnant and I’d find myself waking at 3 or 4am, I’d have the time to myself to do whatever I wished. And the ability to snooze the evening away after work.

    I go to bed most nights at 9pm and in truth I’m mostly in bed by 8:30pm, because otherwise I just don’t feel at my best.

    But despite the early wake-ups, I can’t help but have a smile on my face when I see my cheeky chap beam at me first thing as if to say ‘good morning!’. He really makes the wake ups worthwhile.

    But I’d love a few more hours of rest!

    My worldview

    I didn’t know that parenthood would change me so much. Sure, I thought that my priorities would change, but I didn’t think that it would change my whole worldview and leave me feeling adrift with the uncertainty of how I fitted into the world.

    Hungry to do more and have more of an impact but not knowing how. Something I’m still pondering on now.

    But things are more important than they were before Jenson came on the scene.

    What we’re doing to our planet – the path we’re on which could ramp up to global annihilation.

    The pain we’re inflicting on other living creatures through our drive for cheap and tasty food – dairy, meat, fish and eggs.

    Our education system which doesn’t allow everyone to thrive.

    Our social security net which is getting smaller and smaller with so many people left behind.

    All the things I wrote about when Jenson was 8 months old (in this post here) is still true today.

    Work

    Before having Jenson, I wanted to climb the ladder, have a greater impact and (let’s be honest) get paid more money. I wanted a role such as Head of Organisational Development or perhaps was open to even moving sideways into another area and had started to believe that I could become the head of an organisation at some stage.

    But this has changed for me since J-dog came on the scene.

    With everything so stretched in my life right now, I can’t think of anything less appealing than taking on more responsibility.

    I don’t mean that I want to do interesting work or stay in my role as it is forever. In fact, if there’s one thing that hasn’t changed with my relationship to work, it’s needing to be constantly challenged and to have the opportunity to do new and stretching things.

    What I’m talking about is not wanting the greater volume of stuff to process. Huge volumes of emails, days spent in meetings and therefore having the pressure of working in the evening and at weekends.

    That has no appeal to me.

    I want to live.

    I want to have a balanced life where I’m able to come home and forget work so I can be fully present with my family.

    And maybe I’m doing myself a disservice by thinking that the two things are impossible, but I sort-of think that a greater workload comes with the territory when you move into a senior leadership role.

    So, for the moment at least, my focus is on enabling myself to have opportunities for interesting scope within my role. Stretching myself and putting myself in the way of fascinating people and interesting possibilities.

    And other things have changed with my relationship to work too – the hours and days I work. Before having Jenson, I thought that I’d be happy to go back to work full-time, but that hasn’t been the case.

    I want more time with him.

    Additional time where I don’t have to worry about doing the laundry or making food for the week.

    Just time where we can be together, meet up with some friends who have babies the same age as Jenson and enjoy each other.

    I’m lucky that I’m going to be able to compress my hours and return to work four days a week in the New Year. With my husband doing the same, we’ll be able to have a day each with our main man, Jenson, and significantly reduce the astoundingly high nursery bill.

    Stepping into myself

    Becoming a mum has propelled me forward in ways that I didn’t expect.

    Some ways, I was expecting – like the desire to get my shit in order. Dropping the people pleasing so he doesn’t learn any of that. Embracing who I am and loving myself fully so he knows it’s ok to be happy and confident in yourself. Showing how I feel so that he learns that it’s ok to express a variety of emotions in a healthy way.

    But I just didn’t expect how much further it would go.

    I feel like I’m on the precipice of something amazing within.

    Learning to accept and embrace all that I am. Stepping fully into my power and expressing myself without fear. Embracing conflict instead of shying away from it. All whilst simultaneously letting go of my notion of ‘self’ a little bit.

    I don’t really have words for it. But I feel that something is coming.

    Conflict

    Up until now I hadn’t felt conflict in caring for my son. I’d adopted a mantra ‘family first’ to prioritise what I did in life and how I decided what to do.

    I said ‘no’ to opportunities at work because it would mean cutting a family holiday short.

    I let invitations pass me by when it wasn’t at the right time for Jenson.

    I supported Gregg coming home late each Wednesday so he could have the release he needed in playing football with friends.

    Gregg supported me in continuing to coach people because it was important for me to do something I loved so much.

    But this nursery thing – leaving Jenson crying and bereft – has me conflicted. It’s the first time that it feels like family isn’t first.

    What is first is my desire to have enough money to be able to have holidays, to have mental stimulation from my role, the ability to be able to eat out and have some spending money, to attend one of my closest friends wedding in Australia when it takes place – all things that would be stretched thin if we went down to one salary.

    I know that Jenson would be fine without all those things – all he needs is Gregg and I to be present and to shower him with love.

    But I want more and, even though I’m part of the family, it feels like everyone’s needs aren’t being put first.

    I’m finding it hard currently to be at peace with these conflicting needs – of wanting to put family first but also wanting to have a life that I want.

    And I think there will be a lot more juxtaposing needs and beliefs in the future – this is just a sign of things to come…

    So it’s been wonderful, challenging, heart-warming, tough, brilliant, crazy, centring. It’s been the out-of-this-world best and most difficult year of my life.

    And I wonder at this moment what the second year of Jenson’s life will bring…

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