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.
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.
Oh, what a week, full of confusion as past buried issues have been bought to the surface when my half brother contacted me out of the blue. This year I turn 40, so it’s been a long time that these skeletons have been banging around in the closet. I’m still reeling from the experience if I’m honest and lets face it, I generally am honest, I try hard to be that way and fundamentally, that forms my character, it’s how I want to be seen and it means I can live with a certain amount of comfort without looking over my shoulder. But what shocks me about the meeting with my long, lost half-brother (I always had the notion there maybe one or two or three or four perhaps floating about…) is the amount of information, personal details and private thoughts and feelings that I told this guy, who pops up with his own past, history, biases and nuances and a few dishonesties to boot. These dishonesties have been going through my mind and have rattled me substantially. The guy, I will call him that as the reference suits him, wants to find out every iota of information about our biological “father’s” family and it’s a family connection that I have lost touch with over the years and it’s a family that he has not grown up with or met previously. Our father abandoned both sets of families when we were small babies and our family (the first) have not heard from him since. The guy has kept in contact periodically with him and had a stint of living with him as a teenager. But our father never once supported us financially or emotionally and left my very young mother financially desperate when he walked out on us all those years ago (39 to be precise). So speaking with him is interesting as lots of holes are filled but there are a few facts that have been skewered in the interpretation, which is understandable perhaps. There are three things that I’ve pulled him up on and each time he proclaims that miscommunication has happened but it’s the information that came out late at night as both our tolerance levels were starting to wane. This guy has an interest in NLP (neuro linguistic programming) and has used it in a fraudulent way. He was telling me how he first builds trust and then puts in some anchors and then the manipulation (not his word) begins, his pleasure was derived from seeing if he could ‘pull-it-off’ and not, he tells me, from the financial gain…(I kid you not), financial gain was just a consequence. I can’t believe he’s telling me this on our first meeting and further more I can’t believe I’ve just divulged so much about myself and my family in such a short period of time. Am I his next pawn? Is he conducting a new experiment? Is he researching for his ultimate deception? I hope not. But the amount of digging and internet research and interviews he’s conducted is phenomenal. I hope he can be trusted, but trust takes time to build and he’s not allowed the space for this. He’s run in with all systems ablaze, questions firing and loaded with stories of deception. Intense and inquisitive are how I would describe him as I sit here and wonder what are his motivations. He told me he wanted a better relationship with his dad. Maybe this is his truth and if it is, good luck to him. Perhaps the fault is that he has had no one to guide him, but that belittles the role of his mother and I don’t want to do that. In truth, I have no idea but our encounter has left me slightly unsettled.
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.