We have had quite a summer here. Getting our house ready to rent, selling most of our belongings and fitting what was left in 10 x 10 storage, being kind of homeless when our original summer plan as WWOOFers fell through and maintaining a job that required us to wake up at 3:20AM almost every day. Even after three kids with one of them having serious sleep issues, fatigue has reached a whole new level. More often than not have I fallen asleep at night without even getting changed.
Yet life as a mom goes on. Back from work, there is school to be done, laundry waiting to be handled and the fridge to be filled and emptied again (those meals don’t cook themselves). Projects on the trailer that needed to be done from day one are being postponed time after time, driving Antoine crazy. We are in survival mode, constantly putting out fires. Solar panels are waiting under our bed to be installed, mice could theoretically still get in through a hole by the water tank and recently we discovered that, despite sealing the roof, the windows are not as water proof as we would like.
At the moment, ‘Mighty Machines’ on tv is our babysitter while Antoine is installing a bookshelf for the oldest nomad kid, in hopes that the floor gets cleared of books. He is getting some help from the littlest nomad, which is very efficient.
In a perfect world I would write while kids are asleep, would always cook healthy meals in a timely manner and do art projects with the kids on a daily basis. Our current art project is dipping fresh fall leaves into paraffin, in the attempt to have the leaves retain their pretty colors. I have had to pick new leaves 4 times at this point. That is all I need to say about that.
When I used to wake up at 7, I was not ready for the day. A hot shower and a latte were pretty much a necessity in order to be able to get going. I guess you could consider me a night owl. Imagine starting the day way before dawn. Like the oldest nomad kid says: ‘Mom is going to work in the middle of the night.’ It certainly feels that way. I tried all kinds of things. 3AM is a little early for a shower, plus it means I need to get up even earlier. In spite of being a yoga instructor, my body does not really crave downward facing dogs before 6. A hearty breakfast? At 4? Not for me.
I have learned that I need a system. Enough coffee to wake up and drive safely through the canyon, and an audio book so the drive becomes actual enjoyable me-time. The system makes it possible for me to be a kind human by the time I show up to help others have a great beginning of their day. The system helps me not drive off the road by accident (short of one time when I kind of backed up into the ditch by the driveway, so embarrassing) and it helps me keep up my positive mood throughout the morning.
But then, when I get home, I crash. It takes every ounce of discipline to take care of the family and I rely heavily on my very significant other. I find myself irritable and on edge, being everything that I don’t want to be. I need a system to get through the morning, but what I need most is compassion. Compassion when the laundry does not get done. Compassion when the healthy meals get pushed out for a day and we end up at a drive-thru for dinner (Nomad kid number 2 mentioned just yesterday that there are two (!) drive-thru’s in the world. I guess it hasn’t been as bad as it felt). Compassion when I fail to brush my teeth at night. Or take and serve my kids vitamins. Use our canoe, pet the dog, practice yoga. I can go on.
The Dalai Lama points out that in order to be happy, you have to practice compassion. It is one of the hardest concepts to grasp and describe, and even harder to apply. Finding compassion for someone else, or what someone else does or is going through, is one thing. But compassion for yourself? On one hand I feel like this is where it starts. How can you be truly compassionate towards another person, when you cannot find it for yourself? Yet we are so hard on ourselves, have such high expectations. Especially with Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram in our faces all day long.
Most writers’ and photographers’ social media page may show a picture perfect, organic and lovely life. But who knows what is going on behind the scenes? Of course we mostly want to read about what is going well in someone’s life and it makes sense to share what is beautiful, but be sure to be aware of the filters and the beautifying angles. Toddler tantrums are not heard when you view a picture, and mom most certainly spends her day in pajamas on occasion without telling you about it. Taking life with a grain of salt when it is appropriate can be enjoyable, and sometimes downright necessary. Compassion for yourself, especially when you are raising little ones, is so important. I often have to remind myself how the kids are not going to remember that the house was a mess and we sometimes ate from paper plates. What they are going to remember is how they felt, what the atmosphere was like in our home and if they had fun. I have to look at our life though their eyes. Heck, even before this crazy job I had a hard time keeping the mess at bay. After having baby number 2 I actually took pictures of my house, to show it to my kids if they are ever in that situation. It is all about standards and expectations after all.