I recently watched a film called Free Samples whilst working through the ironing. It's not a film that's going to set the critics alight with excitement but it did have a beautiful moment when the lead character, Jillian, has a conversation with a retired actress about her life. The actress notes that she doesn't believe in reincarnation because within her one lifetime she has lived many lives and reinvented herself many times. I've been ruminating on this conversation for several weeks. This snippet then combined itself with the concept of regeneration ala Dr Who stylee (I, like many others, was glued to my set to see who was going to play the coveted role next). It occurred to me that the regeneration of Dr Who was a great analogy for my life at the current time.
At the moment I would say I'm regenerating myself. The process of becoming a parent over the last three years to one child changed the person I had been to a reasonable degree. Before Katie, I was a professional working with troubled, often hard to reach, teenagers. I used my brain in the ways it had been trained to do. I was relatively organised. I was furthering my training as a Reiki practitioner. I was tap dancing to a reasonably high standard. I was the healthiest weight I had been in years thanks to discovering I was unable to eat gluten anymore. I was about to achieve a goal that my husband and I (who really needs a pseudonym other than Daddy for this blog) had waited 15 years to achieve, namely becoming a parent. Life was pretty good.
Three years later we had become parents and were on the precipice of becoming parents for a second time.
What had changed in that time?
It was a lot and yet I still felt like me. Our Social Worker for our first adoption warned me that giving up my professional identity might have repercussions on how I saw myself. She was right but it took a long time to happen. It wasn't until I became a parent for the second time that I realised that I was in the midst of a big change whereby I had lost quite big chunks of who I was and that I hadn't quite found myself again yet.
So what has changed?
Well obviously my life is mostly focussed on the needs of small people. They have a lot of needs and create a lot of washing! Secondly a bout of anaemia and a flare up of an old leg injury have meant I've lost the momentum of my yoga practice and healthy eating routine. It took nearly a year of me over-eating chocolate because I was so tired before I went to the GP to note how tired I was and was diagnosed with anaemia. Over-eating chocolate and not exercising lead to expanding waist lines and thighs. That, in turn, leads to a dip in self confidence, which leads to more eating of chocolate and not wanting to mingle as much as I did. In addition having a baby who sleeps at the times of day that we are usually the most sociable and I've been feeling a little lost and lonely.
Add to that the psychological impact on me of becoming a parent to two. I knew that making the decision to walk into the arena of mum-to-two-hood would raise an issue in me that has accompanied me through my life. My mum couldn't cope with being a mum to two. She voiced quite loudly throughout my childhood that having two children ruins your life. "You can do anything you want to with one child but once you have two you're stuck" she said. The result of her not coping, and probably suffering with the same PMDD that I suffer from led to a rather abusive childhood with lots of out of control rages and subsequent corporal punishments. Not the parent I want to be and a situation I walked away from 20 years ago.
All the way through both adoption processes I worried about the type of parent I would be. Daddy was the initial instigator of our second adoption. I was happy to stick with one child and stay within my comfort zone, however I knew that my fear was the outcome of the actions of somone else. I am not my mother. The only way to deal with this issue was to become a parent to two. Face the issue head on and hope and pray I'd done enough psychological work on myself to make it through and still be the parent I wanted to be.
So here I am. A mum to two who suffers from PMDD, trying to fathom out how to be a good parent and be able to look at myself in the mirror and like what I see. Trouble is, when I look in the mirror I'm not quite sure who is staring back at me. I'm not who I used to be. I've changed a lot and my new persona hasn't quite taken shape yet. I don't like the physical shape of this me. I worry that there is a bit too much of the worst bits of my mother staring back at me on my darker parenting days. I'm a bit like Dr Who stuck in the middle of regeneration. A bit like a Boggart taking on the shapes of the things that I fear. I need to be able to laugh at myself a bit more I think.
Some of the changes are good. I'm slowly realising I'm too accommodating. I put up with a lot of crap from people. That is changing. I'm too tired to put up with crap these days so I'm rather more outspoken than I was. I'm facing up to the fact that when under pressure I have the ability to morph into a caricature my mother. Not to the degree she did but I do have a greater understanding of my inner banshee these days. I work hard to find strategies to morph the banshee into a therapeutic parent. That's been challenged to the max just lately but I'm constantly working on it. I've realised I'm not an earth mother. I'm not quite as emotionally squishy and nurturing as I would like when I'm feeling stressed. I get too caught up in righting unacceptable behaviour instead of stepping back and breathing and trying to remember to be mindful.
Over the past few years I feel that I've lost my spiritual connection a bit. When I had lots of time to meditate and pratice yoga and Reiki I was more grounded. This is something that I need to focus more on in the future. I realised that in order to be the mum I want to be, I have to be the person I want to be. I have been trying to morph myself into my perceived parent role but that isn't me. I have lost my confidence at tap dancing because my brain is struggling to remember routines due to tiredness and distractedness and because I feel unhappy with my physical shape. I've not made it to Reiki since Pip joined us because i didnt want to leave him until I felt he was settled at bedtime. I've felt too tired and out of shape and too overwhelmed with other things I need to do at home to focus on my health and well-being. During term time I currently get a two hour window whilst Pip naps to achieve everything I need to achieve that day including washing and paperwork and housework. That doesn't leave much time for yoga. I struggle to do the yoga at other times because of our eating times.
I have no idea how I'm going to make this all happen but I need to make it happen, and fast. I need to find my spark, my zest for life. I need to rediscover the best of me. I need to care about me a little more so that I can do a better job of caring for the other people in my life. I want Katie and Pip to have a mum who is able to show them how to embrace themselves and their interests and possibilities. I feel a bit grey at the moment and need to find my colour.
I'm realistically limited to what I can achieve during the holidays. I need to get out for some long walks with the buggy and tone up a bit but that might need to wait until September. I'm trying to tackle my need for food and I need to get myself to bed a bit earlier (instead of blogging and doing all my emails at 11pm). I've moved Katie's swimming lesson so I can get back to Reiki and I will be returning to tap in September (with some larger jogging pants on temporarily).
It's a start.
I might not have regenerated yet but I am in search of myself. If you find her, can you send her home please?