I don't often splurge and buy myself gifts.
Don’t get me wrong, there was most definitely a time when I did. Shopping sprees, my favourite kind, the ones that meant I’d be walking out of the mall with full hands. Bags full of shoe boxes, shoe boxes full of heels ... after all, I have always believed that the higher the heel, well, then the closer to heaven!
As time has gone on these kinds of, shall I say, productive "me-trips" have become less and less frequent. Now that I am someone’s Mama, I have less time than I used to, fewer funds than I used to, and mostly, less energy than I used to. Packing up to go to the mall is now an ordeal that truly has a life of its own ... gone are the days where I could just grab my purse and go. There are things to bring, like strollers, snacks and random forms of bribery. Oh, and let us not forget the small human that has, over the past three years, become a true professional at 'exiting the home' delay tactics of every sort. Also, there is this: shoe stores will at no time whatsoever get the same time priority as Disney stores.
And, you know what? I’m totally ok with all of this. I know one day I'll get back there, to those leisurely "me-trips" of days gone by ... I know there are more fabulous high heeled shoes to be had in my future.
Besides, as I prepare for baby number two (due in just 15 days), it has began to become apparent to me that there is a much more important "gift to myself" that I am not quite as willing to give up on so easily ...
With time ticking by, I've been digging deep, dealing with those vile postpartum demons from my past, pulling them apart and analyzing them, piece by piece. Trying to work out where they came from, how they were able to penetrate my soul, and where exactly it was that they were living inside of me. I want to be prepared this time around, ensuring that I have done everything possible to reinforce my inner security system to, this time, keep them out.
During this time of soul searching and dissection of both my struggles and my successes as a first time Mama, I find myself returning to the same singular point - to this gift that I was talking about, the one that I have realized I owe to myself more than anything.
And, that is this: taking the time to grant myself a little bit, even just a tiny morsel of...
of goddamn GRACE.
There is so much information being thrown our way as parents in this current generation. We are plugged in to so many different outlets - Facebook, Instagram, Mama blogs (yes, I know, here I am writing one), online articles, influencers, YouTube videos, television, radio. Words and images are bombarding us from every direction - and while at times they have been helpful - there have been many moments I have pleaded hard for the noise to just stop.
I remember being up late for night feeds with Sav and scrolling through my phone, searching articles about sleep, about leaps, about feeding. My email would ding with an incoming message from one of the apps I had downloaded before she was born that would notify me of her current size in relation to a piece of produce of some kind, such as a grape or more alarmingly, later on, a watermelon. I hadn't realized it would continue to send me information now that she was on the outside, emails filled with what to expect at the current stage she was at, what products I should be using, what achievements she should be achieving. How to get your child to sleep through the night in 3 simple steps, why breast is best, Mamas posting pictures - looking fabulous, smiling, laughing, with baby or babies in tow, making it all look so very ... shiny. I'd take all the information in as if I was starved for it, filling my brain up until it was so full there was no room left for thoughts of my own. All of this noise stayed inside, like a swarm of worker bees, buzzing to and fro, making me second guess everything and crippling my natural ability to focus on anything.
And there wasn't just the outside clamour that I was battling, there was also my own suffocating inner dialogue. I've spoken about it before... the ugly thoughts - questioning whether I would ever be enough as a Mom, guilt for feeling sad, for feeling down, for not being IN LOVE. I was silently screaming whilst trying to put on the most put together facade because I wanted to prove that I had it all down pat. That the challenges of parenthood did not faze me. I didn't always accept the help that was offered and when asked how I was doing, I would always respond with something along the lines of "great". I lied to them all. I lied to myself.
I attempted to plan everything with Sav. Rarely allowing myself to just go with the flow, run with the wind, cuddle away the cries or laugh through the tears.
I just kept chugging along, filling my days up with distractions, missing the moments, plowing through the seconds, trying to get to what I thought would be the happier times, the easier times, the back to normal times. I wasn't stopping for anyone, and in the meantime my inner soul was black with bruises.
I didn't give myself even one moment. I was SO hard on myself.
Needless to say, this time around I know that it is not just important, but crucial (especially if I want to keep that inner security system I was talking about strong) to channel a completely different vibe altogether. And, for me, it needs to be one that stems from a place that is raw and natural, where I can trust in and be proud of my own Mama spirit, and be able to let it lead me. To have the ability to channel the women who live in places where technology and modern day conveniences aren't quite so close to their fingertips. Where the grass is long and the homes are tiny. Where there isn't all of the noise. A place where the questions, inquires, and advice from the outside flow in and then out again with ease. Where I am able to forgive myself, trust myself, and breathe in the wild and tempestuous air.
I recently met up with one of my best girlfriends for dinner, a rare girls night out. Just a few weeks earlier she had become a Mama of two. We were hashing out parenthood, all of the ups and downs, and the age old question of whether or not it truly is easier the second time around. She emphasized with compassion in her pretty brown eyes, that yes, as far as she could tell, so far, it is - that it does make a big difference when you know what to expect. But, she also looked at me earnestly and explained that of course there are still tough moments, the kind that lead to feelings of being less than, she seemed to have a bit of an epiphany as she said to me, "you know, I've been hard on myself, worrying about what other people think, as far back as I can remember, like, since junior high." I paused as she said this and thought to myself, you know what, me too. And isn't this true for many of us? For all that we have gone through as humans? We are born innocent and confident, rarely second-guessing ourselves, and then somewhere along the line, life happens and many of us lose this pure sense of moxie and ability to be sure of and trust what we feel deep down in our souls.
Over the course of my life, this has rung true, and although in time and with effort my confidence has grown, as I think back again to what motherhood looked like for me the first time around, I definitely haven't made it as far as I'd like. I think maybe that this is where many of my postpartum demons were born from and why they were able to cling so strongly inside me ... there was a constant worry about making the cut, doing it the way I was supposed to, avoiding judgement at all causes. I was never very easy on myself in the imperfect moments, or able to allow myself to at times just be broken.
This time around, as I become a new Mama of two, when I look into her little eyes for the very first time I am going to reach deep down inside, to the roots that are tied to all of the things that make me who I am. When we bring her home and sleep is hard to come by, energy is difficult to muster, and life shifts again I hope to worry less about who I should be and to focus more on who I actually am. Because that is really what life should be about, should it not? Embracing and trusting in whom each of us are, forgiving ourselves for the damages acquired in the process, and granting ourselves even just a little bit of GRACE.