Do you ever have random thoughts crop up at you from nowhere?
I most certainly do. And so it was that last night, I was lying awake in bed, watching the rhythmic rise and fall of my three year old’s chest when my thoughts, as they tend to do, turned towards the concept of motherhood. Anyone who knows me or has read a few of my blogs would know that I’m fascinated by the topic of motherhood. It intrigues me – the politics, the intrigue, the martyrdom, the drudgery, the misconceptions, the mummy wars. All of it. I often find it consumes my thoughts and, perhaps I’m simply a boring conversationalist, but yes, my conversations with people generally tend to navigate back towards motherhood too. It doesn’t help that my work revolves around motherhood and mothers. So I’m surrounded by it. Obsessed, my husband says.
But back to last night. At 2.30am, I was for some reason, comparing in my mind motherhood to other formal professions. And I came up with this random analogy of the role of a mother in comparison to an architect.
Bear with me here.
I was thinking about the theories, concepts and rules that underpin all those things good mothers “should” do. And I began to wonder about how many of these “shoulds” are actually 100pc essential, must have, must do, non-negotiables. And how much of motherhood is completely up to us? Totally at our own discretion, upon which to exert our own creative licence, to adorn with our own preferences and beliefs, and to orchestrate according to our own wants and needs.
And it made me think of architecture.
Granted, most of my architectural knowledge comes from binge watching Kevin McCloud on Grand Designs, but here’s how I see it:
Architects have a few rules they MUST stick by. They have to make sure the creation they design abides by the laws of physics, that it is structurally sound and safe. That it’s stable, and won’t all come crashing down with the first winter downpour.
But apart from that, they have creative licence. They can do what they want. And they are applauded and lauded for it. In architecture, creativity and design flair are commended. Sure an architect works to a brief set down by their client. But within that brief they can go for broke. Try something out. Client doesn’t like it? Grab your eraser and try something different.
So why not Mums?
What are the rules of motherhood?
Why can’t we value and express our individuality and creativity. Why can’t we curate our own style of motherhood and implement it with confidence and flair? We have clients too. In our case, the clients are our children. And bet your bottom dollar your child will let you know if they don’t like your style of motherhood.
But I have a feeling that most of us never let our creative motherhood flag fly. Not for fear of what our pint-sized clients might say. But for concern about going against what the “experts” recommend, getting some cardinal rule of motherhood wrong, and being judged harshly by the “Mummy Mafia” – whoever they are.
We’ve lost our ability to mother intuitively, from our own hearts and minds, and so defer our parenting decisions to others. Why?
It’s because we don’t have rules. Sure we have morality and tradition and research and guidelines galore. But all of those things differ across the globe, and have so many motherhood theories have been muddied and altered and bent and broken over the decades. Certainly there are some theories that hold more weight than others – I often speak about them here on this blog. But theories aren’t rules. And they are still always open to interpretation.
So as it stands there are no set rules in motherhood.
And there’s the major difference between architects and mothers – at least the major difference in regard to this analogy. An architect’s “musts” are set in stone. I’m sure there’s a bunch of engineers and some sort of giant building quality standards rule-book document that outlines beyond a shadow of a doubt just what it takes to ensure a structurally sound design under the laws of physics. (Because unlike the “laws” of motherhood, the laws of physics haven’t changed at all in the past few centuries). Here’s another difference. Architects have a bunch of useful tools to help them abide by their musts, to check all the necessary angles and physics calculations, to make sure their design is up to scratch. Those fancy calculators, the good old protractor, and don’t forget all those computer assisted drafting software programs. And then I bet they have to get whatever they design checked off by someone before it gets built. I don’t know the name of the man or woman with the red rubber stamp. But I know they’re there. Giving a definitive yes or no.
Mothers never get a definitive yes or no.
That’s what makes motherhood hard.
Sure, there will be an expert for every situation to give you an absolute yes or no. But take two steps to your left and you’ll find some other expert who will give you the exact opposite response for that particular situation.
There’s very few “musts” that 100 percent of experts can agree on when it comes to motherhood. And that’s what makes motherhood hard.
So in an effort to make it a little easier for you, here’s my list of motherhood “musts”:
1: You MUST figure out what works for you and your family – try a hundred things – always with the best of intentions – and figure out what does and doesn’t work.
2: You MUST go into motherhood with an enormous sense of compassion – for yourself, for your child, for your husband or partner, for your own parents, for the family dog. For everyone. Compassion is like magic dust. Worth it’s weight in gold.
3: You MUST realise that no one thing works for 100pc of people, 100pc of the time – nothing.
4: You MUST live a life according to your values – those guiding principles by which you aim to create a richer, fuller, more meaningful life, for you and your family – figure out what the are and live by them in all that you do – including parenthood.
5: You MUST have confidence in your ability to know what’s right for you – you’re the expert in your own life. After all it is YOUR life.
6: You MAY disregard any of the above advice – because, see point one again.
So there you have my “musts”. I hope they help. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go check ABC iview for the latest episode of Grand Designs.
Until next time,
One of my amazing friends is feeling a bit poorly at the mo – so she put a shout out on fb for advice on how to kick the lurgie quick-smart. She got lots of great tips and suggestions – lemon and ginger tea, vitamin C, bone broth, echinacea, zinc. But the best piece of advice she got, from several very clever individuals, was to REST! Funnily enough, it’s the one she baulked at the most (being the little go-getter she is!) and so many of the comments from others were around just how hard it is to REST when we’re sick.
It’s quite ironic don’t you think – rest is physically the easiest thing to do, easier than traipsing to the health food store and buying a million vitamins, easier than concocting the perfect immune boosting green smoothie. But in our hectic little world these days we really, really struggle with the concept. “What do you mean I have to stay home from work and go to bed early – GASP!”
It’s hardly surprising though – not when you think about the messages we’re constantly surrounded with about how we don’t need to put up with the symptoms of cold and flu, or headache, or period pain, or allergies, or anything. Not in today’s modern world – we don’t need to let our pesky little fleshy human bodies interfere with our superhuman schedules and commitments.
There’s one television advert I particularly can’t stand at the moment. I bet you know it – its for a well known cold and flu drug, where a woman has a “very important task” to accomplish – taking a birthday cake to a party (!) and rather than give in to her darn cold she’s going to “soldier on” because she’s a “soldier-on kind of person”. Gah! I want to smack that woman in the head. Sweetie, you’re not going to get a medal for taking a birthday cake to a friend’s party when you’ve got the flu! Sorry, but if you’ve got the flu, I don’t want your germ-infested baked goods anyway!!
What I want is for you to listen to your body.
Getting sick and feeling run down is our body’s way of telling us that it’s not coping! It’s as simple as that. Sickness is a warning system that our body’s immune system is impaired, our equilibrium is out and we need to do something to restore, replenish and renew our body. Not disregard, disrespect and disempower it.
Now I know, I know. We all have commitments. Most of us are simply unable to stop 100pc of what we’re doing and confine ourselves to our sickbed for 48 hours. There’s still the school drop off to do, still babies to feed and change, still toddlers to entertain, still meals to cook, still dishwashers to be stacked. But how many of us actually even take it back to that level when we’re sick – just doing the bare necessities and calling in the troops to help us out at that time so that we can hop straight into our own bed once the kids are asleep? Nope, we generally tend to soldier on and still take our little poppets to their playdates, “make the most” of our sick day and do some groceries, or “just drop into the office” for an hour to pick up some files so we can work from home. Or dose up on drugs and keep soldiering on with every single everyday task we normally do – meanwhile whinging that we “just can’t shake this flu”.
Repeat after me: No more soldiering on!
We don’t need to soldier on. We need to rest. More specifically, we need to sleep.
When we’re asleep is the time our immune system can REALLY jump into full gear to sort out all those nasty bugs we come into contact with. It’s also the time our growth hormones amp up, allowing our cells to regenerate to strengthen our body.
Just yesterday I was supposed to have lunch with another one of my awesome friends (yes, they’re all awesome!). But half an hour before our lunch date she messaged to say she was just feeling S.H.I.T, so she was going to cancel and stay home and rest. Was I offended? Hell no. Did it destroy our friendship? Hardly. Is she feeling better today? Youbetcha.
So here’s my suggestion. Decide right now that you’re not going to be a “soldier on kind of person”, but rather the kind of person who listens to and respects their body, like my awesome friends. That next time you get the lurgie you’ll give yourself a break and spend the day in bed.
You can bake me that cake when you’re feeling better.
Until next time – live your best life.
I’ve been talking A LOT lately about the need for Mums to have a tribe. A group of women they can go to for support, advice, understanding, debriefing. Being a Mum is a tough gig. I’ve said it before and it remains true. Personally, I am so fortunate to have a whole tribe of amazing women in my life, many of whom I have only met, or found online, since I had my own children, and I’m keen to introduce them all to you.
So here it is – The Blooming Mama Tribe. These are the women who I look to for advice, support, understanding, when I need to let off some steam or just feel like catching up for a cuppa. Some of these women I’m lucky enough to consider my closest friends, some of them are part of my online tribe, who I’ve never met in person but who have been integral in my motherhood journey. And as the months go on, I’m hoping to get some of the big guns on here – some of my top hit-list women, the ones I’ve never met or even emailed, but who have inspired me for their knowledge and the message they are getting out into the world. Watch this space….
Today, I’m starting with a super-special tribe member – my amazing co-host on the Well Fuelled Woman podcast – Shani Prideaux.
As a holistic health coach, personal trainer and director of her own business The Fuel Focus, and mum to two gorgeous kidlets, Shani certainly has a lot on her plate.
From dance-battling her kids home from school, to smashing her personal training clients in the gym, to uncovering hidden health problems for her coaching clients – this lady is the epitome of a Well Fuelled Woman. She is passion, drive and determination all balled up into one little pocket sized bundle of energy. Read on for her interview – and just try to keep up…
Bloom Wellbeing: What does being “Well” mean to you?
Shani: It means LOVING myself so much that I can’t help but be really conscious and plugged into all my choices 80% of the time. I follow the 80/20 rule. If I’m happy, well, moving and eating to benefit my mind and body, sleeping, living with passion and purpose 80% of the time, I can handle the 20% that isn’t optimal.
In other words, I’m not perfect, I don’t want to be, I want to SHOW my babies my reality. Which is pretty darn amazing 80% of the time, at least!
That means eating well, eating fresh, moving everyday, they come too, they are often at the gym with me, training too, we cook, we shop together, they even come to coaching appointments sometimes, my daughter especially loves it. She could probably tell most people where they’re going wrong. We meditate, do kiddie yoga in our lounge room.
BW: Have you always lived a healthy and active life, or have you had a long journey to where you are now?
Shani: Big journey! I had a great start, mum was really health conscious and I had a problem with having seizures – Mum refused to medicate me and we began working with a naturopath.
I was pretty sporty, netball and equestrian – pretty good too.
I am a hairdresser by trade and travelled in my early twenties, when I fell off the wagon in a big way, eating and drinking my way around Oz. When we came home we fell pregnant with our eldest and our whole world changed!
She was born and at a week old was very sick from a virus, it attacked every organ in her body and she had viral myo-carditis (swollen heart muscle). A long journey and open heart surgery. Five long months later we brought home our medically fragile baby, who had a sketchy prognosis! Mumma bear was on it! With help from my Mum and others, we set out to rid her of every toxic drug and substance we could and I got real educated about nutrition and Organic farming. We healed her with food!
Interestingly, probably due to money mainly, we didn’t eat half as well as her!
When she was 2 and 4 months we had her brother and at the time we were kind of homeless, our house was un-liveable due to an oil leak (I know right) it was deemed unsafe and toxic and at 37 weeks pregnant we were living in a hotel!
Anyway, to cut it short, I had an aha! She was noticing EVERYTHING, I was breastfeeding, stressed, isolated, living away from my home and support network. NOW is probably the time that I NEED to be well… omg lightbulb!
I knew what to do, I’d learnt all about it for Peyton (and she was starting to reject my efforts, coz you guessed it, I wasn’t role modelling it)
So I did. I dropped a bunch of weight and slowly, but surely, began my love affair with feeling good, the better I felt, the happier the kids were.
I began teaching group fitness (mainly so that I had to turn up, it was completely selfish) but over time I wanted more and more skills, I wanted to know more about how to help people feel better.
Now I’m obsessed with learning new things and relaying them to people who can benefit.
Shani: Then and now.
BW: Your children have obviously been a big part of your health journey, but how else has being a Mum changed your life?
Shani: Nothing happens by accident, thank goodness my baby got sick! I have so much admiration and love for that child, she saved us! Literally! She came into this world with a clear and vivid gift, which she shares readily, showing you yourself! It’s amazing, her intuition and conviction on what she ‘knows’ is amazing.
It wasn’t by accident that she was sick, it was to show us what could be done and now it’s our job to show others what can be done. She’s a miracle.
My boy is also this fascinating, light filled bundle of insight and joy. He’s my joker and my partner in crime to make s*&t happen, I love it!
If anyone suggests or even thinks about something fun to do or create, or have a go at, he’s on it!
What a great quality!
They drive me! They make me feel like I’m capable of anything. The pair of them have such unfaltering faith in me, that I can’t not be inspired everyday.
They are so great, they’re patient when I need them to be, if I have presentation deadlines or coaching calls or need to teach at the gym . But the second I’ve had a gut-full, they’re right there to tickle and laugh some life back into me! They can brush their teeth and get dressed in two seconds flat because I’ve decided to go ‘do something’ and they’re like little puppy dogs excited to see what it will be…
The best! I’m truly blessed!
Shani’s inspiration – her kids.
BW: I know you have a really holistic approach to health, fitness and wellbeing, and you’re passionate about getting the RIGHT information out to your clients – what are the major misconceptions you come across in this industry?
Ugh, so much! Dogma is my biggest issue. People trust us as health professionals and many, many abuse that trust by perpetuating their own agenda.
Everything works! For someone! Just definitely not for everyone.
We need to learn to trust ourselves and how we FEEL more than what someone tells us to do, or what they did. That doesn’t mean don’t try it, it means listen to your body talking.
Did you know Dr Atkins died of a heart attack? Yet his products are everywhere! Low carb diet has had MASSIVE world wide success and so it should, lots of people do well on low carb! Bars, shakes, powders and pills is NOT what Dr Atkins learnt kept people healthy in the villiages he studied. It’s marketing, money making and riding on coat tails at it’s finest.
I’d really love for the one message people take away from that little rant is to just stop for a second and assess. Even if there is some merit to the theory I’m reading, is what I’m being sold here the same as the original intention?
If you’re standing in a store whilst asking this question, looking at a product, chances are likely to be no.
There are many reputable, objective, holistic health coaches like myself around. Use us if you need guidance… but only if their objective is aligned with helping you to not need them for long.
Because that’s my other pet peeve, (and we were taught it in PT school) don’t give your client too much info, make them need you, they need to not know what to do without you… BS! Even if I’m coaching someone multiple times per week I’m not with them more than they are with themselves, for success to yield success, we must TEACH and empower!!! It flows on.
BW: Finally, if you could give just one piece of advice to all the Mums out there – what would it be?
Monkey see, Monkey do. PLEASE don’t put off making time for yourself. Being selfish is being selfless! It is THE way to help your children.
They see health, they see love, they see passion and vitality and then they want to be those things.
And… ‘No’ is love, sometimes they want things that aren’t best for the greater good, their health, happiness etc. No is love!
Every time they ask for something you have a teaching opportunity.
80/20 rule, my kids know it. If it’s over 20% you are doing them a disservice and that is not love.
WHOOOOHOOO!! What do you think? I really hope the passion Shani lives with has come across in this interview, because she truly does live her truth. If you’d like to know more about Shani and her business, check out The Fuel Focus, or listen in to our Well Fuelled Woman podcast.
Until next time – Be well.