I was saved by a raisin

April 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Posted in CyberMummy, Daily Life | 48 Comments
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I am lying on the slightly scratchy carpet of my bedroom floor. On my front. Which is uncomfortable because my boobs are so full to bursting with milk that they ache – that maternal ache of exhaustion and a feeling of ‘here we go again’.

I’ve been here for 27 minutes now. My husband is in the lounge comforting our increasingly irritated and hungry two week old son. I believe that he is wondering what I’m doing but is too scared to shout for me in fear of upsetting the baby –  or me – the woman who was previously known as his wife but is now a shaky new mother as well.

A further 29 minutes later and I am slowly dragging myself from the floor, trying not to topple forward due to the imbalance caused by the weight of my chest on my 5 foot 1 inch frame. I sob a little, head hanging low and failure surrounding me.

I have just spent the best part of an hour trawling every last millimetre of floor space for an earring back. Yes you heard right. An earring back. Not even the important front bit. Not a precious diamond earring from my husband for our wedding day. Not a pearl passed down from my great, great, great grandmother. Just a little plastic disc. Of which I have many, many more. I didn’t need to find it. I just had to know where it was.

So, that was a bit of an anticlimax wasn’t it?

But this was the start of something that was set to spiral further and up until the not so distant past I accepted as part of me.

I recently met some new and interesting people who questioned the subtle changes in my behaviour since becoming a mother. Our son arrived a month early and, sitting in my hospital bed a few hours after I regained possession of the lower part of my body I sniffled sadly to my husband ‘I wasn’t really ready for him yet – I hadn’t finished nesting’.

And that was the beginning of some irritating little obsessions. Many of which I feel that you might just nod in agreement with.

Finding lost things being one of them. And having children makes that overwhelmingly more exhausting – how many new toys in your house are still with all of their original parts? Not many right? And typically the part that your child asks for just as you’re trying to bundle everyone out of the door is the part that has gone astray.

It’s not that you need to take it with you, it’s just that you would feel far more in control if you knew where it was.

Lists. No day is a good day unless you’ve spent it in the company of a Stabilo highlighter and crossed numerous items off a list. But it’s pretty soul-destroying waking up to a big list, adding so much more to it through the course of a day and going to bed with more to do than when you started isn’t it?  And adding things to a list when you’ve already done them, or will do them anyway without needing to remember, just so that you can cross them off again – well – a little cuckoo.

In an age where we flit between Twitter and Facebook, app to iPad, phone to laptop, never really spending more than 3 seconds doing any one thing, our brains have become used to the fact that we don’t need to retain very much for very long. And so relying on lists to remember means that the brain pretty much packs up and heads off for a staycation – it’s still local but it’s got a 99 with a flake and is watching the tide roll in – not helping you to try to recall what that genius idea you had whilst drifting off to sleep was.

It was probably a load of tosh anyway – most sleep fuelled ideas are but they seem bloody brilliant at the time and the frustration of not being able to remember them in the morning, well it can spoil a whole day, two sometimes – and retracing steps (going back upstairs, lying down and pretending to be falling asleep in bed) seldom works.

Other foibles of mine include frantic house cleaning – with the house ‘appearing’ to be far messier and dirty after a bad day than a good. I confess to hoovering the stairs, emptying the bag, hoovering the landing, emptying the bag, hoovering the bedrooms emptying the bag. Why? To see how much dirt is in each room of course. And yes, then I do the lot again to see how much I missed first time. I also own two hoovers, both with strengths and merits in different areas.

Obsessive compulsive personality disorder.

‘Does it need a label? Does that make you feel better?’ my husband said to me upon my discovery that my behaviour was in fact a condition.

Actually I didn’t want a condition. I have ups and downs like everyone but I strive to be seen as a bubbly, happy-go-lucky, in control, on top, having a ball.  I didn’t want an ailment really. So I needed to do something about it.

And actually wanting to portray this image of perfection was making the matter worse. Because if you need to be out of the house in a rush and have moments to get to a friends for a play date, deciding you have to take home-made cookies at the eleventh hour is somewhat blood pressure raising. It became a standing joke in my family that I couldn’t go anywhere without a copy of Anthea Turner’s How to be a Perfect Housewife. I’m 31 not 51 for gods sake.  Actually I’m 32, my mother pointed it out to me the other day; I hadn’t realised.

So recently I met these new and interesting people with different takes on life. Mainly that life is for living and that if you spend your days planning it rather than actually living it then it will pass you by. If you take your child to feed the ducks and they are throwing whole slices in at a time because you’re tweeting, you fail. If you don’t realise a poo has started to make a bid for freedom in a high chair at a restaurant because you’ve been checking emails, you fail.

Children don’t care if cupcakes are iced and decorated each with twelve silver balls and one yellow rose bud in the middle. They just want to lick the spoon and throw the mixture at the wall. And they want to put peanut butter, banana, cherries AND chocolate into all of them.

Thoughts are not facts. Compulsions to do things are very different to a need to do something. The two must be separated in order for sanity to prevail.

Sometimes we feel like children. We need our mums. But when we are parents ourselves we assume responsibility for so much and the pressure to be the perfect mother can be intense. But life is for living, and it will pass you by – be warned.

Perfection does not exist. You’re wasting your time trying to achieve it. And I bet if you are trying, that at 5.59pm each day you wonder whether it’s too early to open a bottle of wine.

And the raisin? Try this, it helped to save me. Take a raisin between your two fingers and examine it from every angle. Look at it like you’ve never seen a raisin before in your life. Squash it a little and see how it feels. Smell it. Put it into your mouth and move it around with your tongue. Bite it, chew it, taste it.

Pay this much attention to every experience every day and you’ll be able to look back on your life and say you lived in the moment.

This is a story about learning to let go – being the mother you want to be and not the mother you think you should be.

Do I still lose things? Yes of course, but if you don’t look for them, they turn up all by themselves – where you least expected it. Do I still clean? Sometimes. Do I still write lists? Absolutely not. Am I happy? Totally and utterly.

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48 Comments »

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  1. A lovely, lovely post. Have you reached a mellow nirvana?

  2. What a beautifully written post Catherine! You are a brave lady! I need to remember to grab a raisin more often. Hugs & strength to you lovely.

    Karin

    • Thanks hun, its been – emotional!!!

  3. What a fabby post hun, sounds perfect 🙂 I dont reaaly do lists except shopping ones lol. xx

  4. Wow that is an amazing post and I am stunned, no more lists, really? I need to take a leaf out of your book, you sound calm and in control. Way to go strawberry. I love this post and you x

  5. A wonderful post. I definitely empathise with a lot of what you say. Baby Badger was almost a month early and I certainly felt taken by surprise, in fact our builder was still fitting a bathroom for us!

    I am very much list driven: I have a habit of spiralling into frustration if I don’t think I’ve achieved anything and having a list allows me to see that my day hasn’t been wasted. I even go so far as to add things just to be able to cross them off as a reminder to myself of what has been done. I do need to make myself relax and appreciate that spending time with my daughter is also achieving something; hopefully I’m getting better at this.

    • I was standing on a box finishing painting the edges of the lounge the night before my waters broke!
      Yep, I used to add things to cross them off! I thought it was making me feel more productive and giving me a sense of achievement but I realised that it was having the opposite effect, making me feel constantly overwhelmed, rushed and out of control. It was a real eye opener when I realised what it was doing.
      It was so easy to crack I was amazed, it took less than a week and I felt instantly free. Everything still gets done, I find it far easier to switch off at the end of the day and my brain functions properly again!!

  6. Gorgeous post. Only today I have been busy planning, planning, planning and I’ve even thought of what colour towels I should buy for our new house, when one day in the future we move. I’ve been so busy mentally writing a future list for a future date, I haven’t enjoyed the sunshine, so I’m off to enjoy the last of it.

    • Good for you – I do that, pull pages from magazines of things I like for the garden and then wonder why I don’t just go to the garden centre and buy it!

  7. I think I resemble you, no really in all seriousness what a fab post. Well done you

    • Thank you lovely, means a lot, had so many emails asking for advice, it’s a real honour!

  8. Such a fantastic post. I’m so glad you learned to let go and find happiness.

    I understand totally what you are saying. I quite often find myself putting the kids in front of the TV while I frantically try to tidy up, and then I have to take a step back and think that I can tidy later….right now I should be playing with my children. Its so hard to find a balance though.

    I’m sure there are so many mums out there all feeling like they are losing their grip a bit as they try to do too much. We all need to go easier on ourselves and just enjoy life at it is.

    I’ll be grabbing a raisin now!! Thank you so much such an insightful post!

    • We probably end up tidying 10 times a day when if we just left it all to after bedtime we could just do it once!

  9. A beautifully written and eye-opening post. On bad days, I verge between needing to be totally in control and then feeling totally overwhelmed by the rising number of things on my “to do” lists. I find at times like these throwing the list in the bin can be very therapeutic.

    Thanks for the reality check, you’re so right. I’m going to aim to remember this tomorrow and make sure I enjoy every single moment of the day with my daughter, instead of worrying that I haven’t finished that article or written that blog post or hoovered the living room or sent that email. She’s only going to be ten months old this once afterall.

    • Especially at about 6pm, which I always found was the witching hour when that overwhelming sense of panic really took over. They are only little once, we have to take it all in before they’re grown and flying the nest!

  10. This is, without a doubt, one of the most interesting posts I’ve ever read. I can be a bit OCD, can totally relate to finding lost stuff so I’m hoping this will make me stop and think and examine the raisin. x

    • Glad so many people can relate – it’s something that can seem like a mountain but is only really a mole hill in many cases!

  11. I think we all need to take a leaf out of your book – I bet you’ve made lots of people (including me) think about what they do and how they do it x x

    • Thank you! Can honestly say I’ve been overwhelmed by the response! Thank you! And it reminds me what blogging is all about too!

  12. Wow. Well done to opening up to yourself (and us!). I really know how hard it is to take the time out to acknowledge you’re own behavior & then take more time to try and change a life time of habits! It’s not easy, but worth it. I have to keep telling myself, “one step at a time”. Remember to go easy on yourself. I’m going to buy some raisins tomorrow!

    Please keep up with your inspiring posts!

    • Thanks for the lovely feedback, let me know how that raisin tastes (I’m starting to sound like a self help guru, not good!!!!!!!!!!!!).
      But seriously, it’s amazing isn’t it, what a difference it makes when you look at yourself from another point of view. Quite an eye opener!
      x

  13. This post is so moving, but I’m finding the responses even more moving! When I was a new mum I sometimes felt very alone and out of my depth. For you to have been able to share your experience and get support and friendship in return is invaluable. And you have helped other mums as well, what could be better than that? Well done you!

    • Feeling very humbled that so many people can relate to my madness!
      Also, goes without saying that your Wednesday night babysitting service is doing wonders for me – and my waistline – circuits again tomorrow! So thank you, couldn’t do it without you! x

  14. Lists… I’m afraid I still love ’em!

    Daily Things to do
    Fridge…The adding of food items for shopping list
    Alternative Blasphemies…on-going list
    Tunes I want to put on my I-Pod list
    Jewellery/orders – to make list

    So on and so forth!

    Infact…there was a Tusday ‘Listing’ club from a lovely blog member, but so many of us joined it got too much for her!

    • Oooh a list club?!!! Probably a good thing I didn’t know!

  15. I always make lists too. I think I became worse after having the children but I do try and let go a bit more now. I’ve started challenging myself by leaving something, like the kids toys on the floor, whereas before I’d be going mental tidying it up.
    I love this post, thank you for commenting on my blog and bringing me to it! xx

    • That’s such a good way to do it, I do that too; only put away as many clothes as I have time to or just clean one room! Sounds ridiculous but it’s anti OCD training!

  16. […] can read my post I was saved a raisin  love hearing from people so do leave a comment should you wish to! LikeBe the first to like this […]

  17. […] the tale of her daughter’s Poo Suit  (hilarious). Catherine from BabyGenie shared this one, I was saved by a raisin a post about how we can all have OCD tendancies while attempting to be the perfect mother, pushing […]

  18. […] new and old and gripping onto a lectern for dear life while I tried to keep my composure through my crowdsourced speaker slot.  The red wine and rescue remedy combo did me […]

  19. have just read this post for the umpteenth time. i read it at least weekly. it’s my favourite blogpost ever and it makes me feel better each time i read it.
    (((hugs)))

    • Thankyou! That’s totally just made my day!

  20. This is a wonderful post. I saw from your Gallery post this week that you read at CM’11 this weekend (I wasn’t there this year) and so I can to have a read and am so glad I did. An insightful look into the jumbled mind of a mother. So glad to hear you’ve reached mellow nirvana now 😉

    MD xx

    • Thank you for stopping by and for your comment. the response to this post has been totally overwhelming! A few magazines even want to run it as a story!!!! Feel very humbled!

  21. This is a great post.
    I sometimes write lists but more often than not become depressed by the length of them – I am sure that the action of writing a list makes you think of all the extra things that need doing. It is crazy how things change when you have a baby.

    • It’s so true and I have so much more brain space now, plus waking up without that dread of a huge list is heaven

  22. […] reading my post ‘I was saved by a raisin’ at CyberMummy I began a conversation with a freelance journalist for Fabulous Magazine the glossy […]

  23. […] 500 people at CyberMummy, the 2011 parent blogger event.  This issue in its simplest form is OCD.  At its most complex it’s an overwhelming compulsion to list things, clean things, find things […]

  24. I have had to let go even more with my second. Having a teenager in the house has raised my level of sheer frustration so high, if I feel it building again over some issue or other I just have to breath and let it go. or it can rise and rise till I feel I can hardly breath,then I want to run screaming like a mad woman.

    So a shrug more. I try to distract myself. I say oh well and even whatever..

  25. […] been, or are thinking about it, this is an essential read. Catherine from Baby Genie is reading I was Saved by a Raisin, a tender and humorous post documenting those shakey, emotional, uncertain days of early […]

  26. […] you read my post ‘I was saved by a raisin’ – the one I struggled through during the crowdsourced section of CyberMummy last year, […]

  27. I adored you reading this at Cybermummy and reading it again I heard it in your voice. It’s such a powerful piece. You’re am amazing woman

  28. […] achievements: I was a crowdsourced speaker at CyberMummy 2011 and read a post about the OCD tendencies parenting seems to bring […]

  29. […] been, or are thinking about it, this is an essential read. Catherine from Baby Genie is reading I was Saved by a Raisin, a tender and humorous post documenting those shakey, emotional, uncertain days of early […]

  30. […] being helpful qualify as brave?  Or what about doing something that scares you?  I read out a blog post about OCD to a room of 300 bloggers one […]

  31. […] beautiful daughter! When I say floods of tears I mean floods! SOBBING! I also really enjoyed “I was saved by a raisin” by Baby Genie! Her blog post really got me thinking and it will stay with me for a very long […]

  32. […] talked about Cybermummy event in London and after hearing Baby Genie reading out her own blog post “I was saved by a raisin” in the crowd sourced keynote session, I was inspired to actually put pen to paper, or rather, […]


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