It's been a week since I last posted...a very tiring and painful week actually, especially Saturday and Sunday. Each day contained a measure of physical activity that over the course of last week left me unable to even get off the bed by Saturday afternoon. I didn't read the signs of extreme fatigue until it was too late and only later realised that spending two hours walking around a camping expo in the blazing 32C (90F) sun at the weekend with my beloved was the worst decision made in quite a while.
Blossom and her precious little girls came over yesterday and we chatted about the extreme exhaustion mothers of babies and toddlers experience, how endless it can seem when you're in the midst of it, yet you have to keep going, putting one foot in front of the other even when it seems the house is falling down around you, or the washing to be done and the washing to be folded have taken growth hormones.
Last night when the house was put back in order (Cully May is a whirlwind especially when Poppy and her are playing Thomas the Tank), dishes done and the animals tended to, I sat quietly to reflect on the many motherhood topics my daughter and I had covered in our relaxed Sunday afternoon conversation. It occurred to me that the topics which directly affect her life today indirectly affect my life too.
From age 17 to 35 I was either pregnant or nursing a baby/toddler. Through all those years life rarely stood still, I barely caught my breath, and as with almost every other mother on the planet my senses were constantly on alert.
Life was always go, go, go or be prepared to go.
And I don't think that switch in my brain was ever adjusted, not even when our home became an empty nest. My activity/sensory/preparatory switch was permanently stuck on GO and it took a long conversation on various topics with my youngest daughter Blossom to highlight that point.
Sitting opposite each other on our old turquoise couches, me cuddling 20 month old Cully May as she drank a bottle and stuck tiny fingers up my nose, and Blossom nursing 2 month old Rafaella to sleep, I looked at her young mother life through the lens of my much older mother life and sensed the imbalance.
It doesn't take long to fall into a habit if you repeat the same pattern over and over, and this can be good or bad. Experts agree that it can take 66 days to form a good habit, such as walking for exercise or choosing a healthy option for lunch, but just 21 days to break that habit.
But a habit created over two decades??
I think my 'be prepared now/get up and go immediately' habit simply became the normal way of approaching life and therefore I never stopped to consider that at this stage of life it was no longer valid.
It's like when you're used to cooking meals for a family and even thought one by one they leave home you still cook the same amount (my husband has had to draw my attention to this many times over the years), but it feels natural so you do not question yourself. Until we moved house last September I would simply pack up the extra food and drop it around the corner to Blossom, but after moving we usually only saw each other once a week and it fairly soon became clear I needed to bake less and cook smaller portions of our main meals to avoid wastage of both ingredients and dollars.
So with that example in mind I transferred this thinking across to my life as it is today.
No longer young and raising children of varying ages, it appears I'm still pushing my mind and body to function beyond it's limits. My brain is still set to GO and I'm naturally functioning in 'be prepared' mode.
And even though I purposefully seek for pockets of peace in each day and have scaled back much of what I was doing a year ago, my 'natural inclination' is still to be on alert, not let anyone down, and be ready to go at a moment's notice. So there is this 'mental tension' day in and day out which I've not thought of as being an avoidable stress because to me it's quite normal. It's how I've felt for as long as I remember.
This gentle epiphany over the past 24 hours has turned my life on it's end. The striving, roaring, ceaseless tension which was as much a part of me as is eating, drinking or taking a shower, has an off switch and it was always in my control to use it.
Truly, I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit in my life. I am so thankful Jesus left us with God's Spirit to reveal hidden truths we, in our (too-busy) humanity, often overlook. I am in awe of the LOVE our Father pours out on our lives, into every nook and cranny, even when we are not aware we needed it.
I had no idea until yesterday that my life had become so burdensome with habits that were no longer needed. And today, well, it feels like a window was thrown open and a caged bird flew free - from being bound, to spreading wide it's wings on an updraft of fresh free air.
I wonder, are you living a habit, albeit once a good habit, that is no longer needful?
Is there a door before you that needs to be opened so you can fly free?
Pray, ask God to show you.
"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name,
He will teach you all things..."
This "Simply Love" stitchery pattern is my gift to you.
Perfect for Mother's Day, or maybe you'll stitch it for yourself as a reminder that God is LOVE and He loves you so much He wants to show you a better way to live this life and let go of what's no longer needed.
I'm breathing again, my expectations have shifted, and my heart is lighter.
So what's ahead now I've let go of that mental tension?
Not sure, but God knows and finally I'm in a clearer state of mind to find out.
Bless you heaps,