By myself

I’ve come away on holiday for the first time by myself since being a mum. Despite feeling anxiety about leaving Jenson, I knew it was right to have time by myself.

I need it to be at my best.

And I’ve already had such breakthroughs and moments of clarity with the time I’ve had by myself.

I’ve started to read a brilliant book called Soulcraft which is enlightening and mirrors what’s going on for me in my life (here’s a few lines that inspired me):

“the wanderer must move beyond her dependence upon others and upon her social roles. She will no longer adopt, in whole or part, other’s identities or ways of belonging to the world. She will no longer sacrifice her one true life in order to make herself or others comfortable. She knows what she has to do. She must leave her old home and step out into the wild night of her life”. 

Amidst the joy of this holiday, I’ve also been challenged by a difficult interaction with someone in my life. And while it isn’t spoiling my time away, I’ve been thinking about my reaction to what’s going on.

What I should do.

What might allow me to not sacrifice my one true life whilst also being kind to the other.

This morning, I did a meditation – it’s one with drums (and one that I’ve enjoyed lots recently). But as I laid there, listening to the rhythmic beats as I usually would, I was struck anew by all the sounds going on in the background of the track that I had never heard before.

The clinking and clanking of what sounded like someone eating cereal or stirring a cup of tea.

And as I laid there, I also heard the sounds of people around me. Others walking, talking, banging doors.

It reminded me that, whatever is happening on the surface, there’s always a cacophony of things going on beneath.

The interactions I have with others and with myself are layered with rich textures.

Assumptions made based on past experiences, hurt from other things going on that seep into interactions, illnesses colouring views.

And in knowing this, I’m able to be even more detached from the situation.

I’m able to step back and see that what is going on is impacted by a lot of stuff under the surface.

And while I knew this already, it was good to be reminded.

So the question remains, how do I react without sacrificing my one true life whilst acknowledging the complexities of the situation?

One to ponder on…


Thanks to Sara who supported me and bought me the coffee I enjoyed whilst writing this ❤️

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The other side

I’ve had a difficult time over the past three months. It’s been the most challenging time that I’ve experienced in motherhood and I’ve felt my sanity balance on a knife edge at times.

But it’s also been a time of immense growth and I’m appreciative of what it has taught me.

How my struggles have stretched and shaped me.

And as I’m coming out the other side, I’d like to reflect upon what I’ve learnt and am still learning.

I must come first

I always thought the analogy about putting your own oxygen mask on before putting anyone else’s on was trite. But I’ve realised that I’m good for no one when I’m on my knees with exhaustion.

So I’ve started to prioritise my needs.

I’ve made plans to get away to have some time of solitude every month and Thursday evenings are for me to have time alone. I’ve so far tried an African drumming circle, gone for drinks with friends, had dinner with my parents, spent the evening working late to do some things that I don’t usually get the chance to do in my working day.

Being free to do things as an adult, not a mum or carer, has been life changing. It’s brought me so much joy and has refreshed me for the week ahead. I don’t know how I coped without this time before.

Now that I’m over the worst, it’s hard to keep finding the discipline of time alone.

Since I’m not at crisis point, time to myself can seem less important than getting on with life. Making sure I’m pulling my weight at home. Being there for Jenson.

But then I remember that for 18 months, I gave more than my fair share to this family.

So it’s not about an even 50:50 split, but about communication and asking for what I need so that I can thrive as a mother, wife and woman.

Asking for help

I’ve asked my husband over the past months to step up with the caring of our son – we now share the bedtime routine and co-sleeping so the other can enjoy a night of disruption-free sleep.

And with me no longer taking the caring role with everything, I’ve let my husband care for me more and I’ve felt closer to him than I have in a long time.

I was so busy caring and coping before that I’d lost what it was to be a wife.

What it was to be vulnerable and gentle and soft. Cared for, desired and with desire

It’s not been easy.

We’ve had more disagreements than we have had in a long time.

I’ve pushed him and pulled him into me.

I’ve been more vocal about my needs and have confronted him when I’ve felt hurt or ignored or misunderstood.

Instead of burying my feelings deep inside me, I’ve spoken up.

But it’s been good.

Because instead of feeling complacency – a foreboding of the death of a relationship – I’ve felt fire.

And that has kindled us in a way that I haven’t experienced in a long time.

I’m not an island

I’ve also asked other people to step up and help in our lives.

Friends have rallied around to babysit Jenson and give us some precious time alone.

When Gregg’s parents or my own parents have come to visit or had us to stay, I’ve asked them to look after Jenson so I could rest and find moments of solitude. I’ve taken time for myself without worrying that I was being ‘rude’ or ‘inhospitable’.

Because I recognise that this time alone is what I need and their love for Jenson means that time with him isn’t a chore.

I remember writing on this blog, at the start of Jenson’s life, how important it would be for me to ask for help. How I longed for Jenson to know that he doesn’t need to be strong, independent, self-contained. 

And I find myself reflecting back now and seeing that my desire has come true – I’m living how I want him to.

In community.

Asking for help.

Accepting the support of other people even though I can’t always give back in turn.

New season

I’m finding myself in a new season in life.

Connecting with the beauty of nature and the spirituality of the world.

Not through any religious beliefs, but through an awakening to the ancient wisdom of the planet and the inherent spirituality I feel as a human being.

I know that what I’m saying is quite vague, and that’s because I can’t quite articulate it myself.

All I know is that I feel connected to something bigger than myself.

And with that, I’ve felt a love for myself and a self-compassion that I’ve never felt before.

I’m finding myself able to say ‘no’ to invitations that aren’t right for me.

I’m looking at my body in a way that I’ve rarely been able to in the past – with true love and acceptance for all that I am, complete with stomach rolls, a slight double chin, my wrinkles and grey hairs.

It’s all me and all worthy of love.

Over the past month, I’ve danced with joy.

I’ve cried with sorrow.

I’ve started to reconnect to the wild Amy who has been tamed by society but is bursting to break out.

And this feels like just the beginning.

Taboo

I feel like I’ve broken one of the biggest taboos in the world – speaking about how motherhood isn’t always pretty.

How I have regrets for the child-free life I left behind.

How I know that I could have been happy without a child, even though I love Jenson with all my heart.

We do women a massive disservice in silencing the truth about the brutalities of motherhood.

It’s exhausting.

It’s relentless.

It’s the best and the worst experience.

And yet we only speak about the beauty, and at most, laugh about the witching hour before bed or whisper to our friends in secret ‘I’m not happy’. 

And I’m so proud of myself for having spoken up and started to challenge the taboo.

I’m so proud that I’ve been loud in saying how hard it is.

And I hope that others have felt permission to be truthful and honest, even if only to themselves or to me.


And so while this time has been one of the trickiest in my life, it has brought more growth than I could ever have imagined.

And I’m looking forward to seeing where this next season in life will take me.

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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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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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