Adjusting to Motherhood

I wrote about my start to living an eco-baby life a couple of months ago. It is still going really well, and I am continuing to pick up tips and tricks and apply them in my own way, as I adjust to my newfound role as a mother.

The journey of motherhood is one that never ends. Having someone that all of a sudden depends on you to survive can be a lot of pressure, and a lot to get used to. The feed, sleep, play cycle can get very repetitive and leave you with little time for anything else.

I was recently made aware of the term “Matrescence”, the developmental transition to motherhood; the idea of a mother being born. This thoughtful article by Lauren Hughes, a Child Health Nurse, explains the term is used to describe the emotional, physical, mental, social and psychological process a woman goes through when she becomes a mother. Lauren describes it as a “change that launches us into a new phase of life with an evolved and expanded sense of who we are.”

There is a lot going on in a mother’s life before, during and after pregnancy and so much to adapt to, as well as new concepts and rituals. Unfortunately a somewhat negative term that is commonly used as an excuse for apparent vagueness is “baby brain”, when the mother (or father) has a lot going on, and may be unable to find the words for adult conversation, or make questionable decisions.

Baby brain is a stereotype that new parents (including me) fall victim to. When I’m having a conversation and can’t find the words, it must be baby brain. When I forget to shut the front door behind me, it must be baby brain.

Stereotypes aside, a lot of mums might struggle with their new identity, or be confused and unsure where their old self has gone, as the term Matrescence acknowledges. There are books and other resources that focus on this topic in an effort to normalise it which can help us to recognise that people adapt in different ways, whether rational or not.

Right now I think it’s ever important to make time each day to do something for myself, even if it is for only 10 or 15 minutes. Time is so precious when you have a little one on your hands, and so much of it is spent helping them grow. Your priorities may have changed but you are still the same person.

As I watch my baby boy drifting in and out of sleep, I know that I wouldn’t change a thing. Seeing his eyes light up and his gummy grin as I read him a story, sing him a song or turn on his mobile is simply delightful. Life has certainly changed, and I am embracing everything that comes with this amazing adventure, while remembering to continue to do the things I enjoyed doing before, in smaller doses. Not because I have lost my sense of self but because I am not my main focus anymore.

Blissful thinking

Almost one month in to 2021, and not much has changed. Australia was fortunate to have been in a pretty good place with managing the COVID situation across multiple states towards the end of last year, and as we entered 2021, things were much the same, with border closures and restrictions in place depending on the area you lived. It almost came as a shock that on New Year’s Eve my husband and I were required to wear masks when we went out to dinner but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do, and we understand the importance of these kinds of mandates. After all, it was not so long ago that we were in a more challenging time, similar to what much of the world is still experiencing right now.

The year ahead

With desperate hopes for an effective vaccine and a fast rollout, the world is in limbo. It amazes me how adamant some people are to get on with their daily lives, as if nothing is happening, lining up immediately behind one another to purchase a coffee or cramming into the grocery aisle.

People everywhere are wondering; when will things go back to being how they were? Or maybe they have already come to terms with the fact that nothing will ever be the same, and they don’t care, or just don’t want to think about it. I could say something about ignorance and bliss right here, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

As I said last year, I think it will be a very long time before anything is back to the way it was pre pandemic and as common as it may be to say it now, many of us are getting used to the new normal. We have just about had one whole year to become accustomed to the situation, so there is no excuse, right? Sadly, this concept of normality applies to climate change too; it seems that anything we don’t have a practical solution for falls into this category.

Time to refresh

This year brings no change to my working situation; I’m still at home, which I am happy about. But it is not easy making plans for the year ahead. Of course, we can stay at home as we did last year, and I am a bit of a homebody so wouldn’t mind this too much, or we can plan to get things done on the weekend, falling victim to our pre-pandemic lifestyles. It’s like a trap; we are so used to being all go, go, go, when the best thing we can do right now is stay put.

I have been thinking and reading a lot on the topic of wellness lately, which the more I think about it, the more I realise it is something that resonates with me. I want to take the time to learn yoga and meditation; to learn how to properly switch my mind off. I have just started using natural oils on my skin and am absolutely loving them. By ensuring my meals remain healthy throughout the day (breakfast of bircher muesli/granola is my all-time fave), and fitting in plenty of exercise, this is working well for me. Maybe that is what I should continue to focus on this year; health and wellness as a way of helping me to relax and unwind.

Change is refreshing, and with so much happening around us every day, now is a good time to take time to focus on what really makes us happy. Take the plunge and do something you’ve always wanted to; It doesn’t have to be a drastic commitment or promise; maybe a simple change of heart or new perspective on something is all that is required.

So go on, have a think about what you could do for yourself that will also have a positive impact on the people and/or environment around you and make it happen.

Consumed

Most of you will agree that feeling underprepared is not a great feeling.

Unprepared, underprepared, unawares, however you choose to say it; it essentially means the same thing – not quite prepared and maybe even caught by surprise.

Whether it’s an occasion, an event, a sporting game or a meeting – being underprepared is not ideal for anyone.

Staying on top of things

It happened to me recently. Of course, it happens often in day to day life, but I usually try to stay on top of things as best I can. I was finishing up a meeting with a co-worker when he began asking about my next meeting, that I had been called to attend at last minute notice.

I answered his questions as best I could, he was curious and wanted to know what the meeting was about. He smirked and joked that I hadn’t done my homework. I smiled and looked down because I knew that that wasn’t entirely true – I knew the focus of the meeting, but I hadn’t completely readied myself for the discussion that would follow.

I had done all the pre-reading earlier in the week, but it was a lot of new information and some of it was still sinking in.

I should have almost expected to be called in to the meeting, then I would have been more prepared.

But I wasn’t.

Realisations

And did I stuff up in the meeting? I don’t think so, no. I may not have had much to say but I took a lot of notes as this is how I tend to absorb information.

Lately, I have been thinking that this is something I need to stop doing.

There is so much advice out there about being present and living in the moment. I need to learn to trust myself, trust that I know what is going on and be comfortable in knowing that I don’t always need to take a mountain of seemingly unnecessary notes.

If I am asked a question after a meeting, I most often go from what I remember anyway, I rarely refer to my notes.

So, I’m going to stop taking as many notes in the meetings I attend.

Once I am clear that I do understand what is going on – because I understand people and relationships to some extent, I will just sit back and listen. I think when I allow myself to do this, and to be fully immersed in discussion, I will add more value.

I mean, I don’t take notes when discussing what my friend is up to on the weekend or when I ask how her work is going. I just remember what she says and offer expressions and/or advice. Sometimes I forget, and that is okay.

We don’t always need to remember everything.

I almost makes me nervous – not to take notes. It has become the way I work – it’s just what I do.

But I need to let go of my fear of missing something. Because realistically, I am missing what’s happening right in front of me. I am missing the passion, the fight, the belief in what people are saying and really this is not what I ever wanted to do.

I never thought the day would come when I would say this, but I think my notes are consuming me, and I really need to stop and allow myself to live in the moment.

The black and white of feedback

Feedback is an important aspect to life. It contributes to our personal and emotional development and allows us to see things from a different perspective.

The other night my mum suggested that sometimes I rely too heavily on people’s feedback, which I thought was a bit harsh and not entirely true.

Sure, it’s great to hear when you are doing well or how you could improve, but it is also likely that you will already have some kind of an idea of what the response will be. You’re either doing well, or you’re not. It seems pretty black and white.

Receiving feedback can be tricky. And you can show your true strength with your reaction.

If the answer is positive, you might nod your head and ask about other areas you can develop. If the answer is not so good, it is the perfect time to ask why.

Use the answer to develop your attitude, your skill set, your humour, whatever it is that has been constructively criticised.

Whatever you do, don’t overthink it. You are as strong as you allow yourself to be and if you let feedback get to you, it may be harmful, if not only to your self-worth, which is actually a pretty important thing.

Imagine going to work every day, sitting opposite your boss and not talking because she suggested you work on your sentence structure when writing reports and you disagreed. Or maybe she suggested that you introduce yourself to external clients in a different way.

How is not asking for more information benefiting you?

Make an effort to understand where these concerns are coming from. You can even give her some feedback of your own if that’s what you need to do!

But maybe you didn’t even ask for the feedback you received. Maybe your friend told you that you were terrible at keeping in touch and that she wasn’t going to even bother anymore. Hopefully you get better at contacting each other and in the meantime, your emotional intelligence is under some pretty extreme development.

The hardest part about receiving feedback can be accepting it. But this is where you can prove people wrong and demonstrate exactly why you aren’t what whoever thinks.

Who really cares though?

We all have it in our human nature to care about what other people think to a certain degree but if you know you are doing the best you can, just keep on doing that and others will learn that you are not going to react.

They will realise that this is who you are and that you’re not going to change because of something that someone else says.

Feedback should be used constructively but there is no need to depend on it, even if you are trying to improve.

As soon as you feel comfortable and proud of what you are doing, you shouldn’t let other people get in the way to tell you otherwise. And if they do; it will be quite obvious to you and everyone around you that they are wrong.

The vivid lens of travel

I love that travel really makes me think.

I’m glad we went to America when we did this year because it helped me see things for what they were. I had a fantastic three weeks away with my favourite travel partner – my husband. Our trip was action packed and we saw so many magnificent things.

On the plane over there I thought about my core values in life. After some time, I came to the conclusion that happiness, honesty and direction are what keep me going. If one of these is lacking, I feel off centre, and spend a large chunk of my time trying to regain my balance. I know that by putting in the effort and going after what I want, they can all be achieved.

In this post I’m going to break these values down and look at how taking time from day to day life to explore somewhere new affected my thought process and overall mood.

Happiness

Traveling generally makes people happy. While traveling, we are constantly learning, challenging ourselves with our surroundings and keeping ourselves busy. We are trying new food, seeing how different cultures interact and opening our minds to somewhere completely new. It is a feeling of freedom that you don’t get at home, because at every corner, there will be something new and untouched. One of my favourite things to do is to try out as many different restaurants as I can because this is the perfect way to get a sense of the culture. And who doesn’t feel happy while eating a tasty local feed? No matter what the cuisine, each suburb, town or country has their own unique flavour that stays with you for a long time.

Honesty

Travel reveals an honesty to both yourself and to your travel companion, and in discovering what is around you. There is nothing more genuine than spending every waking hour (almost) with one person and learning more about them. Finding mutual ground can feel as though it might be a struggle but, this can be avoided by removing all barriers and opening up. We all have our moments, whether we are tired, hungry, cold, hot or confused, sometimes we are not the best version of ourselves. When you have found that travel partner or group that allows you to discover a new world in your own time, is when you have allowed yourself to experience a form of honesty that doesn’t happen at home.

Direction

Traveling makes you think about where you are headed to next. Usually, you go with some sort of a plan about what you want to see, what you want to do, and how you are going to do it. You may also be left considering your direction (or lack of) back at home. What are you doing with your life and how is it helping you achieve our goals? Are you happy? Is there anything immediate you can do to change your situation? Being in a new environment allows for a fresh perspective on something that you may not think about back at home. Are you happy in your current situation? Are you satisfied with the amount of time you spend with your friends and/or family?

These values have become increasingly important to me over the last few years, and I have been able to appreciate them through the vivid lens of travel. Without happiness, there would be no energy to put into my goals. Without honesty there would be no clarity. Without direction there would be no vision.

So think about what is really important to you and how this can be brought out because active thinking can help you in more ways than one.

Whether the best way for you to consider your core values is through travel or something else, I encourage you to find out as soon as you can.

The Alter Ego

I think a lot of us have an alter ego that, when unleashed, allows us to become a different version of ourselves.

If you have a full-time job but always hoped for something different, you may create an alter ego for a persona to develop within your limited space.

Alter egos can be the ideal way to release a new character that you feel is trapped within. To be someone that you’re not usually, to relax, to feel different and have fun.

Your alter ego may do something that you think about all the time but that you don’t feel comfortable actually doing.

I recently read about a famous alter ego in The American Way, on a flight from Las Vegas to New York. ‘Awkwafina’ was someone that I had never heard of before. It was a fantastic article about the alter ego she created for herself to help her get out of an ordinary job and to unleash a creative side of hers.

Some theories suggest that alter egos belong only to those who have a high level of self-worth but who feel that they are not revealing their full potential by only showing the world one side.

Alter egos can be a wonderful outlet for people who are often considered ‘fence sitters’. Alter egos make decisions; alter egos take action.

An alter ego is often created to compensate for someone who thinks they are not outgoing and that they have a wild side that others are yet to learn about and if that ego goes out of control; things have gone too far.

Alter egos can be wild. They can be trouble.

It gets dangerous when it becomes a game of attention. When someone is striving to be noticed, above and beyond the rest, things can get nasty.

The ego is an interesting concept. You never hear of alter egos that are quieter than the individual that concocts them, do you? Because an altered ego only suggests that it is altered to an extreme level of ability.

If you have concocted an alter ego to show the world who you really are, is it really an ‘altered’ version of yourself or is it just you?

If anyone would like to comment, please do and we can figure this one out together!