Do you ever have an ah-ha moment that came together from 100 other thoughts/discussions/inspiration/books & articles/ regular life stuff? Well, that is what recently happened to me and what this post will be about today. As Pooh said to Piglet "let's start at the very beginning!"
About a year ago I regularly attended a virtual new mom's group. The idea was that we could come with our questions, woes, celebrations, and join other new mothers and one group facilitator to share what was on our minds. I remember sharing at our meet-up and before I started the meat of my share I said "I'm really tired so I'll try to make this as cohesive as possible and not be totally incoherent." Our group facilitator chimes in with a very cheeky "That's not necessary and totally overrated." That comment has clearly stuck with me and I am so grateful for the permission to be a bit sloppy! I share this because there are so many moments that led to this realization and my ah-ha moment. (And maybe that's the case with all the juiciest of life's moments..?) So in my attempt to be open, honest, clear and a bit sloppy here we go :)
In my journey with removing the clutter/ home purges/ minimalism, I've come to realize an underlying theme in all of it that has been my "why" throughout this process - simplicity! I'll say it again - S I M P L I C I T Y !
This process started about 5 years ago by slowly pairing down my massive wardrobe. When my husband and I moved into our house, we only had a few carloads of possessions but one of those loads - like one ENTIRE load - was my clothes! A whole trip just for my closet!! My closet was stuffed full, I also had a large 6-drawer dresser and four off-season totes of clothes. I could easily go a month without doing laundry. When laundry day finally came it would take an entire weekend and I still wouldn't get to the bottom of my laundry mountain pile. I'll fast forward a bit but eventually, with the help of YouTube, I learned about the 333 Project, minimalism, and capsule wardrobes. I heard certain phrases like "How much inventory are you willing to manage" and "The secret isn't to get more but to have less" and most recently "I don't want things around to make me feel bad" (This is irrelevant to my story here but I now have one tote for seasonal clothes, one small ikea hanging rack with 35 articles of clothing, one drawer of workout clothes, one drawer of lounge/at home clothes and one drawer of intimates.)
So there was certainly this idea of simplicity and this goal with my clothes and it started to spill over into other areas of my life. For example, I used to have tons of indoor plants and outdoor potted plants on top of our garden and vegetable garden. Over the years, for various reasons, indoor plants have died and my outdoor potted plants withered away in the heat. But I kept the containers, hoping one day to have again the capacity to fully care for all 75 potted plants properly. This year I finally got rid of the planter boxes and pots that I simply don't have the capacity to care for. It was one of the things that was making me feel bad about myself. And every time I looked at one of those empty pots, they taunted me! All the time and money I had spent only to eventually get busy and for the plant to die. This of course transferred to other areas. I asked myself what items and hobbies and things were taking my time and making me feel bad.
I have always been a do-er. I read books to learn something, I am competitive, I like my checklists and making goals. In the past, I always had an agenda - something to do/ see/ achieve. I love tackling a big project and more often than not would run myself ragged working from sun up to sun down with little to no breaks. Eventually, and again a lot of things led to this including but not limited to my son turning one, starting a business, and having less stuff in my home to manage but there was a strong shift. One day in particular really stands out to me. I was doing some spring yard clean up with Silas. He was happily playing with his trucks and personal gardening tools and I was about an hour in to bagging old leaves. It was going to be a hot day and I could tell he was going to be ready for a snack soon. I grabbed our waters, some cottage cheese for him as well as a snack for me and we sat together. We just sat. In one chair. Together. Enjoying the shade and eventually laughing at how the cottage cheese is just everywhere
It was at this moment that I really became aware of this large shift. This slowing down that I had always desired. He was making me slow down and it was and is such a gift. It was like a breath of fresh air. No place to go. Nothing to do but just to truly be together. I felt lighter. There was less internal tension. I was happy to be moving at his slower pace and embracing this little break of ours. It was just effortless. And it was a moment I could have totally missed out on if I was stuck in my own personal world and desire of getting this project done. I get teary just thinking of missing out on this moment.
So we have the minimalism goals, the removing things that no longer serve me, this tender slowing down, and a few conversations with my mom and husband about the word ambition and simplicity all to prepare me for my ah-ha moment..
Silas has never been a sleepy baby. I have referenced this in other posts but the first time we got a four hour stretch of sleep at night was at 4/5 months. Even to this day his sleep is unpredictable generally there is at least 1 night waking. Some nights having 2-3 wake-ups and rough nights consist of him waking every 20-60 minutes. His sleep has always been something we scratch our heads about. Recently, we tried night weaning a few weeks ago but stopped on night 4 after he cried for about 2 hours in our arms. This wasn't straight crying but he would fall asleep then somehow wake up in our arms and start the whole crying/upset process over until we rocked him once again back to sleep. We tried it, but it just wasn't for us. He clearly wasn't ready and he is much happier at night coming in for a snuggle and some comfort when he needs it. His sleep is now what I would consider okay but not great. And even in this sleep phase it is extremely ciclical with sleepless nights still rotating through.
This week we went to an ECFE drop-in and play session. I was chatting with other parents while Silas played and was listening to another parents struggle with sleep. Her situation was much worse than mine. She and her husband took turns sleeping with their baby because the parent sleeping with the child was basically doomed to a sleepless night. I was honestly a little shocked that I was getting more sleep than another parent!
Later that day, Silas and I are walking back from the park. We are taking our time and moving slowly. He is walking, we didn't bring the stroller (and rarely so we bring the stroller places) and he is picking up sticks with an incredible amount of joy and pride. It takes a while but we make it home and run into a neighbor and their children. We chat while our children play. Nothing is rushed. Our conversation of course gets interrupted a few times as we need to redirect or hear them out but it is all so perfectly pleasant. Even amidst some of the more intense feelings our kids express after hearing the word "no" or being told not to do something. We chat about how her oldest is pushing the boundaries and how she doesn't feel overwhelmed by her youngest 2-month-old baby but how she is entering this new territory with her oldest. Eventually, we part ways and I watch my happy little dude climb the stairs back to our house.
It hit me at that moment that there will ALWAYS be something less pleasant/ challenging/downright hard or tough in every single parenting stage. Right now, for us, it is sleep. In a year it might be dealing with biting. In 5 years it might be talking back and 10 years after that it might be him sneaking out of the house. There will be these constant phases. The ebb and flow of life and raising a small human. And I don't want to wish them away. This is what I signed up for! When Aaron and I made the decision to become parents we knew our lives would forever be changed.
Rather than wish for this phase to be over or idealize a future where we simply don't have a "phase" to move through I realized that I can end my "suffering" now by simply practicing this art of non-attachment. By embracing Silas and his phases, giving myself time to be grounded in daily meditation practice, parting with possessions to reduce inventory and clear mental load, consuming positive content that matches how I want to live, and questioning the status quo I am able to intentionally create this life - MY life - a life of ease/detachment /breath /equanimity /peace. A life where I am both in control and out of control (because who ever is truly in control and what fun is that!?) A life that I feel energized about rather than a life that is burdening or a life that is happening to me.
In Unity, we say "I co-create my life with the spirit of God." During my yoga teacher training, we would say "Life is happening for me." A past supervisor would tell me, "If you don't put yourself first, someone else will." In my meditation practice, I chant "om jyotir aham - I am the light that is beyond all sorrow." All of these phrases and mantras I have collected over the years are just hitting me in a whole new way with life and with parenting. I feel supported by these ideals.
I'm getting in my head a bit here but also just want to share that I hope this doesn't sound like toxic positivity or like I have all of the answers. I definitely do not. I worry, get frustrated, lose my patience, and all of the other human emotions and at least for this moment in time - I feel comforted and grounded in my ah-ha moment, this way of thinking.
I share this to document it for myself, to remind myself of my lessons, and to share in hopes that we all can touch a moment of gratitude of peace. I am sure the high of this moment will fade - like most things eventually do. But I want to remember this lesson and hope it will stick with me when times get tough.