Being a single mum is tough, no doubt about it and I’m sure I’ll have no arguments from anyone on this one. As I’m sure it’s equally hard being a single dad with the full-time role of caring for the kids, but as that’s not our situation, I will take a moment to lament on the tribulations of being a single mum. Both mine are pre-school aged (2 & 4), both boys and both high energy, which is lovely, if I’m peering in through the window at their antics; ‘gosh, they’re funny, so much exuberance etc’. Then I would peer away and smirk ‘but sure glad I don’t have to look after them’ – WAIT A MOMENT – gasp. They are wonderful boys and I am trying really hard to be calm, cool and collected and remain a ‘positive’ force in their lives and not completely screw them up for life by ruining this ‘nurturing’ relationship I am so desperately trying to implement….but, like I said, it’s not easy! Distraction is the key to success when I’m feeling overwhelmed, let’s get in the car and go…somewhere, anywhere, but not too far, or else as you know, the whining starts. I remind myself not to get bogged down with the stress, the constant attention seeking, seeking for approval, it’s endless, probably (or hopefully) worthwhile in the long run s it’s developmental – age related, but relentless from day to day, in the moment. Ah, breath, centre and RUN!! Take 2: breath, centre and RELAX. If I actually stopped the internal dialogue and realized it was what I was feeding my thoughts that made moments unbearable maybe I would have a different experience. Whatever the case my hat does dip profoundly to those care-givers out there doing it solo. A tough road and hopefully a road less traveled..but I know it’s a well traversed path and one which our society is supporting more and more. I know there is support out there and others in the same boat, maybe a community of ‘single parents’ gather to look after each other’s children, have playdates, celebrate their new found freedom or their drowning in the onset of reality, depending on the amount of time out on their own I suspect as to the stage of their acceptance. I feel the weight of stigma, the weight of ‘how do you cope’, the weight of ‘they couldn’t make it work?’ and ‘how will it affect the kids?’ Even if most of those statements are in my head. What I miss is adult conversation and I guess it’s a good time to reach out to others and invest in interests outside of day to day living and mere survival wishing I was in my 20s not 40s. Next time you meet a single parent, give them a wink and a smile and say – ‘well-done, you’re doing a great job!’, you might just make their day and, who knows, you may have unknowingly given them a hand up out of their darkest hour in their day.
How confusing has my life been to date. I have been following my arse about but with my head so severely turned I’ve not allowed myself to notice what is in front of my nose and that is the world around me and what’s more my needs and desires to live the life I want to live are right here within me, not behind me or in front of me but here where I dwell, where I am, where I have landed from my past and in the present waiting the future. I have realised that my downfall was my lack of acceptance of self. I have been so busy trying to be somebody, or be what I thought I should be that I have done a gross disservice to myself and neglected what is most important and that is to allow myself to sit comfortably in the who I am. The acceptance that ‘hey, I’m alright just the way I am’. I am OK, I am enough, it’s all good exactly the way it is right now at this moment with the skills I have, the talent I have, the children I have, the home I have made for myself, my relationship to myself, it is exactly the way it should be and I am more than OK with that. I have been diving into self-help literature, raising happy kids books, becoming an empowered woman webinars, business start-up help forums, I have even seen a psychologist to realise that hey, I’m all good. From my research I can tell you it has come to a head in what the books, the divine inner wisdom have been telling me and that is just write, just do yoga, just be a mum, and schedule your time to fit in these things – full-stop. Stop wanting more, stop chasing your tail, you are fine just the way you are, no more and no less. I have spent the better part of my life beating myself up emotionally and mentally and now the time has come for a deep level of self-acceptance and nurturing that my creativity and sense of abundance has been craving. A recent yoga workshop with Bryan Kest from LA made sense, as I sat with tears streaming down my cheeks, with my emotions just below the surface of the skin ready to explode, I had only been in the class for 5 mins until I released not noisily, not obscenely, I just let go of the façade. I made up my mind in the car heading there that that was precisely what I was going to do in the class, allow myself to heal, say here I am I will give myself the 3 hours of yoga as a gift to my inner well-being and just let go of the hurt. I didn’t expect to cry, I didn’t expect to find meaning in his words I just longed for it. With over 30 years of teaching experience, however, he certainly knows what the soul needs to hear but yet, I can’t tell you exactly what he said. The main things were that yoga is not a religion, that yoga would never tell you what to do, it’s not dogma, it will ask you to just notice what you are doing. Gold! That intimacy is really listening, listening to your lover, listening to yourself. Beautiful! That we must touch ourselves gently, that we must be kind to ourselves. The man seemed to have peered into my head, into my own dilemmas and gave me the answers I was looking for. Accept the way we are, not go beyond what we can do, don’t go too far, go to your capacity, push the boundary but don’t go beyond. The man touched my soul unbeknowingly and told me it was indeed OK to be me.
Bryan Kest is currently touring Australia until the end of August.
There are few things that have recently dawned on me during this yoga process and if I’m honest, they are thoughts that have been rattling around my head for years and have been observed but perhaps not acted upon, therefore, it’s my goal to see the manifestation of these thoughts followed through with appropriate action. As B. K. S. Iyenger says ‘yoga is skilful action’, not just a meditation on self or navel gazing, which is a subtle action but my dedication to yoga for now will be dynamic action until the action of yoga itself becomes naturally more subtle. Therefore a reflective mind will lead to powerful action on the reflection.
This year, on top of all the impeding ‘other’ things that I was to get on with, I signed myself up to yoga teacher training with NRG Yoga on the Sunshine Coast. As a full time mother of toddlers and a partner of a swim coach who rather spontaneously signed a lease to run a dilapidated pool, I knew that this year was going to be huge. I also turned 40 this year. A monumental birthday in my books and one that I pinned 101 expectations on and, of course, it came up short by about 95% of them. So why have expectations at all? I now equate birthdays with vast disappointment, yet if I was to approach a birthday with an open mind and loving heart (as all good yogis should) I may actually enjoy this process of aging but then my habitual moaning and groaning post birth-day would have to die, my gut feeling would be a slow and resentful death as old habits tend to die hard. I would have to replace the negative banter with something positive and I’ve realised attachment to this dialogue although it goes nowhere and serves no good becomes a strong identifying crutch in moments of need. Sometimes giving into negativity, which now feels like an old ‘friend’, is easier than changing one’s mindset which from experience is an uncomfortable process. It ultimately leads to freedom though and is best in the long run but at the moment of truth sometimes it feels like a small amount of concerted effort in the short term is too much to do right now, after all there is too many other things ‘to do’. This is a narrowing of the mind and yoga is a gateway to broadening the mind.
“EXPECTATION CRIPPLES”, I see scrawled in my yoga journal, “disappointment prevails from unmet expectation and most expectation is unmet”. This is surely a step in the right direction to dispel expectations from my internal dialogue. How very wise, but it leads me back to my original question, if I know that expectations lead to disappointment why am I so plagued with them? Why do we do it to ourselves? Another insightful truth about myself has dawned on me. I have created an army of distractions to protect me from achieving what I need or feel is of importance to me. This is a bizarre thing to do, but I’m sure I’m not alone in doing it. I have the feeling it’s tied in with self-esteem and acts as dry fodder to the flame of negativity that burns the prana (life’s energy) of the spirit and mind. Through these distractions my expectation is again not met and I’m therefore left disappointed leading to more negativity and so the circle continues.
My brand-new intention for yoga teacher training then, is to get to grips with my distractions. There are a festering amount that I cultivate and nurture daily just like the worm farm out back that I feed our left-over scraps to. These disappointments at not achieving what I had hoped to seem to accumulate around my birthday, as yet another year slips by. These worms of distrust, if left to their own devices, will eat holes in my dilapidated mind, so just like the pool, it’s time for a re-vamp to bring in light, energy and a fresh beginning. I’ve prescribed myself a cure: positive mantras and meditation to take myself out of the norm of day to day life. This is needed to re-wire the internal chit-chat of the mind. Just by getting on the mat and showing up daily I will help myself take the path perhaps less trodden in general but surely is a super highway to freedom and I believe ultimately FREEDOM is our life’s goal. Through action will come the internal power that yoga can unleash.
It’s the new year and happy new year to everybody reading these posts and going by the comments left, it’s mostly my mum! Well this year saw us knee deep in sand as we camped on Moreton Island. Which I must add was divine, the campsite was positioned perfectly on the beach front and we basically camped under trees on the sand a one minute stroll from the waters edge. It couldn’t be any more perfect BUT the catch is about to come. Getting there! We are novice 4wdrivers (it’s not even the right way to write it, but there you go, as I said, novice). We also decided to go with our camper-van to make everything a little more comfortable, our home away from home. But, little did we know that we would be towing our beloved van through the sand via the interior route of the island and away from ‘the terra-firma’ sand of the beach. Also we had to factor in tide times, now I did this, I actually printed out the weeks times before heading off. What I didn’t know, however, was that the ferry would be departing late and therefore arriving at the peak of high tide and in the dark! We have two toddlers with us don’t forget and my trusty little Nissan X-trail, which did wonderfully towing the trailer on the road just didn’t have the gusto to pull us through the sand. It did fine driving on obscure tracks without the van but occasionally bottomed out, as I’ve discovered is the terminology, it has a low clearance and as the ranger told us is really an all wheel drive meant for the city. It’s actually a 4WD but once the notion is in people’s mind it’s hard to convince them otherwise. What struck us was the culture of 4WD’ing. It’s a lifestyle choice, as is camping or fishing or boating. If you want to enter into the fray you have to be up with not only the lingo but have all the material stuff and KNOW-how to use it. It helps if you can tinker with your car and ‘know how’ to baton down fly away tarpaulins at a moments notice with the best of them, because, anyone who has gone camping knows that EVERYONE in your immediate surroundings is watching your every move. This can be un-nerving if you’re not use to it. If you haven’t been camping before you would not realise the loss of personal space you experience. You live life outside basically and that means in the company of complete strangers. We were very lucky there were others there with small children and our children mixed well and got on well with sharing toys etc. So this saved us those ‘I’m bored’ moments and besides the people watching that inevitably goes on living in the nature always offers something of interest. Our boys love ants, crabs and sand which is just as well as it was all throughout our camper van continually; all day long. Fortunately for us we also came prepared with our toilet tent and portable loo, this made life so much more comfortable and meant that when it got really busy at the camp site, and it did, we didn’t have to be inventive about where we squatted in the ‘wee’ hours of the morning or at night when most were gathered around their campfires. Most folk were nice about helping us novices out of a sticky situation but some were just plain aggressive. One young guy told us to get back on the ferry and go back from whence we came if we were stupid enough to come with a car like that wanting to tow a camper van. We obviously ignored him and had ourselves one of the most amazing holidays of our lives. We had a combination of beach, surf and lagoon conditions, nature and harmony and family unity and best of all we had loads of adventure and who doesn’t like a good adventure to make a holiday worth remembering. We are now in the market for a 2nd hand 4wd with enough grunt and ground clearance to make us the ones offering to tow those poor bogged out buffoons on our next visit to Moreton.
Wow, what a minefield! Least of all the feeling of subservient rolling over and please scratch my tummy sort of display we have to do before each start of year. (Therefore the Cavadoodle reference in the heading). “Please take my child, please put him into a good class with his correct age group (this is actually harder than it sounds) and please give him some caring and supportive teachers, not those wicked wenches that you’ve actually put him with on the list!!!!!” This week has been full of this cowedly, doggish behaviour that I’m feeling rather sickened by the whole experience. I would like some time to produce some work myself but I would like the boys not to be wound-up stressed little tykes from their childcare experience, which, let’s face it, if you prescribe to the train of thought of these young years being their foundation/formative years, then as a parent, you would feel this dilemma tenfold. As I do. But children are resilient I hear you say, but should they be at the age of one, I would retaliate. Is childcare even for them at that age? Isn’t that why we should be relying on extended family? The village concept of parenting. If I had a job to go to, I don’t think I would be stressing as I am over the dilemma but I was hoping to spend some time building some things, setting up MY foundation so to speak. We are embarking on a new business venture and I have some personal projects, in the form of writing, that I want to get stuck into, so either I have to be extremely disciplined at saying yes, they will go to daycare or I could say, as I have been, I’ll work around them…and that sometimes ends in repressed tears and early nights of retreating to bed with exhaustion. But ultimately I give my kids love which I’m not sure the childcare will do. I know my eldest will do just fine, as he has been at his one day per week sojourn, because he’s into other kids at his age (later part of his two’s). But the youngest is still attaching. Anyway you now get the gist of my angst. I will breath through it as I try to explain how the better childcare facilities work, the ones with large waiting lists. There is one word which best sums it up and that is MONEY …. which brings power and influence and position and FUNDS! Which if you take the d for dogmatic out makes fun’s but we are talking about childcare and the D remains firmly embedded in the psyche. You have to pay your way into choice, you have to pay your way into the better facilities and if you can’t, you just better beg or roll over and whine, your kids future depends on it. I’ve learnt quite a while ago, there is not justice for all.