A Box Called “Perfect”

A story was shared with me a few nights ago because of a pile of washing in a photograph. I wont repeat it all, because it’s not mine to tell. I’ll tell you one that does belong to me instead.

I had Bodhi by emergency c-section, while most of my friend’s natural births went to plan. He screamed, while other babies seemed to sleep. He hated the car, while other babies seemed to love it. He wouldn’t tolerate not being held or involved for more than a minute or two, while other Mums seemed to have babies who would coo quietly from the bouncer for an hour or more. With the arrival of this little man my world was both shaken and stirred… and all the while I watched Mums around me carry on as though this motherhood business was the easiest thing they could imagine. I still remember an argument with my husband back then, when he said “But why can everyone else manage so easily? Why can they keep on top of all the house work and the cooking and everything else while you find it so hard?” He wasn’t being mean. He was being frustrated. Truth was I was wondering the same thing. Was it me? Was I somehow failing at this thing that should be more natural than anything in the world? He wasn’t being mean, but it stung none the less.

So I tried the books, watched the DVDs, read the articles… learned all I could about how I should have been doing this or that or something else another way, all the while another article was telling me the opposite. Eventually I threw the book at the wall (no, seriously, I actually threw the parenting book at the wall) and realized I didn’t fit it any more than my son did.

When I relaxed it started getting easier, not because my son had changed, but because I made a conscious effort not to compare our perfect to someone else’s. Because really, I didn’t care too much about the broken sleep, and he outgrew the car thing pretty quickly, I was actually ok with having him in my arms all the time and the parents at mothers groups who found my more attachment style of parenting off-putting… well, they probably weren’t people I would have gotten on that well with anyway.

Us Mums are surrounded by a lot of perceived perfect families. A lot of parents that seem to have it all together. Sometimes they’re supportive and inspiring, other times they’re critical. More often though we’re critical of ourselves through their eyes. We doubt ourselves from their points of view, when the thought probably hasn’t even occurred to them.

Humans, like animals, are prone to hierarchy. We’re prone to imaginary positions of importance and achievement, and parenting becomes part of that. It becomes a job, and one that we must excel at.

The problem is, parenting doesn’t work that way. Kids don’t work that way. It’s an artificial box that we try to put ourselves and our families in, when really they’re much too organic – too interesting – to fit.

No one – I repeat, no one – is perfect. No mum has it all together, no kids behave all the time, no marriage is without annoyances, no house is without mess. Every mother has had moments of feeling trapped, exhausted, frustrated or at the end of her tether. Every father has had his own mix of difficulties too. And you know what? That’s ok. In fact it’s good. Because if we wear the hard parts as proudly as we do the joyful parts we start allowing ourselves the authenticity of the moment. And we might just help someone too.

The story I was told the other night was of a Mumma who had had too much. She was surrounded by a lot of what she saw as perfect families and spotless houses and mums that never seemed tired. She was surrounded by all those who seemed to find it so ridiculously easy. And she couldn’t fit into that box, not then. That beautiful Mumma was slowly crushed by all that she thought she couldn’t be, and from that place of despair her story had a sad ending. She deserved a happy one, so did her kids.

So today, while you put on appearances, don’t be afraid to wear your imperfections as proudly as your strengths. Because there might be a parent you pass today who feels like I did when my son was little, like all of us do from time to time, maybe even someone who feels like that beautiful Mumma with the sad ending. And that parent NEEDS you, more than you know. They need to see that you don’t fit that box either, and that you’re ok with it.

They need to see that you’re still seeking too.

You can help someone in a myriad of ways. With an act of kindness, a helping hand, a heartfelt smile and sometimes even with a messy house that you didn’t get a chance to clean.

Your bloopers can bless someone as much as your highlight reel. Never forget that.

You’re doing great, and great is far too interesting to fit in a box called “perfect”.

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 Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

 

 

 

 

 

Logically Illogical

Sebastian has always been quite logical. At 18 months he is entering the tantrum stage, but views them more as a planned expression rather than an emotional outburst.

Like this morning, when he burst into tears, stamped his feet, balled his fists by his side and screamed at the top of his lungs…. until he realized that his audience wasn’t paying quite enough attention. At that point he stopped cold and all anger *completely* disappeared while he said “Mumma, tantrum. Look. Watch tantrum.” then like a switch was flipped he thrashed around in fits of rage once more.

This one’s going to be interesting!

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Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Awkward Family Photos

A couple of weeks ago I was looking online for some new PJ’s for the boys. I wanted those nice warm onesie style ones with feet. I ended up finding a site that sold adult ones too, and on that particular night that was *ridiculously* cold both Daniel and I thought that buying them for ourselves too would be the best idea ever.

They arrived today. Just in case the mental picture isn’t enough, this is us…

DSC06550Though I think Daniel does it better….

DSC06546On the bright side they are warm!

 

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

Sweet Tooth

I usually eat healthily except for the occasional block of chocolate or packet of potato chips that force me to eat them. Oh, or the times when I get busy, or lazy. Then I eat hot chips sometimes. Ok, a lot. And toast. Toast is a meal isn’t it?

Anyway, I’d gotten into the habit of eating too much sugar lately. It’s kind of unbecoming, not only because it’s unhealthy for me, but because it makes me put on weight and gives me zits. On my forehead. Gross. Then because I feel fat and zitty I reach for more chocolate… or chips. You can imagine how that turns out.

So I’m trying to cut out all junk for 21 days… after which point I’ll hopefully be back in great habits so wont bring it back. It’s going well, aside from my husband who hopefully checks the pantry around 15 times a night just in case cheezels have magically appeared.

So far I’ve swopped my lazy/busy lunches for rice cakes with hommus and salad, I’m juicing more and am doing my best to avoid anything fried. Fact is though, I’ll always have a sweet tooth, so today, when I had a little kid free time I got into the kitchen and prepared some treats ahead… they might even distract hubby away from the cheezel hunt ;)

Choc Vanilla Fudge Protein Balls

DSC06540These are all kinds of awesome.

They’re dairy free depending on which protein powder you use. I used Phyto Protein Pea Protein Isolate in Vanilla flavour. Tastes nothing like peas (phew), and it’s great if you want to avoid the whey that’s usually in protein powder. It’s organic too. If you don’t have this one, or you’re fine with dairy you could use any other.

This recipe makes about 8 balls. If you want more, just double the quantities.

  • 4 tablespoons almond meal
  • 1 heaped tablespoon vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon honey (a big gloopy one, don’t try to make it flat and neat!)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cocoa powder (I use organic dutch press as I find the flavour is nicer)

Combine ingredients in a bowl then roll into balls and chill in the fridge. Done!

Healthy Coconut Rough

  • DSC065414 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 3-4 tablespoons honey (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • 1-1.5 cups coconut (I used dessicated, but shredded would work too. Use 1 cup if you want more chocolate around your ‘rough’)
  • 3 tablespoons cocao powder

Coconut oil is usually firm at room temperature, so if you want to soften it do so by placing your bowl ‘floating’ inside another bowl filled with boiling water. It softens quickly. I wouldn’t suggest heating it on the stove because it tends to make it separate a little as it cools, so the coconut oil sits on top. Tastes fine like that, but doesn’t look great.

If you have a food processor, or you’re just less lazy than I am there’s no need to soften it, just mix ingredients in a bowl :)

If you haven’t softened the coconut oil then you can shape your ‘rough’ pieces on a tray and pop them in the fridge to set. If you have softened it then best to pour it into a lined plate or tray and break it up when it’s firm. This one will keep for several weeks in a sealed container in the fridge, so, like the balls, it’s easy to make ahead.

 

‘Caramel’ Biscuit Slice

DSC06531Sooo good. And super quick to make. This one was inspired by this recipe on PaleOMG blog http://paleomg.com/caramel-pecan-bars/ which I made a while ago. I wanted to try out my own version.

Base

  • 1 cup peacan meal
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 egg

Topping

  • 10 Medjool dates
  • 10-12 tablespoons coconut milk or cream.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence.

For the base just combine ingredients in a bowl then press into an oven tin. I used a loaf tin for mine. Cook it at about 150-175 until it’s feeling a little crispy to touch and is coming away from the sides. It’ll be browning a little, but not too much. Mine took around 30-40 minutes, but yours might take more or less depending on the tin you’re using, your oven etc.

While that’s cooking take the seeds out of the dates and soak the dates in hot water (freshly boiled) for about 10 minutes. Just enough water to cover them.

While that’s soaking get yourself a nice cup of tea and ignore the dishes ;)

Drain water from the dates and pop them in the blender or food processor with the vanilla essence and the coconut milk/cream. You might need more or less than the amount I suggested, depending on the consistency you want and how big the dates are. Blend until smooth. This might involve a bit of shaking/hitting the blender and swearing… or you could use a spoon to push it down when needed, but the swearing works too. If you have a food processor you probably wont need to swear at all, but feel free to if you want.

Cool the base then apply the ‘caramel’ to the top. I chopped some nuts as a garnish but you could use any garnish you like. Or nothing. This will keep in the fridge for about a week, unless you eat it sooner ;)

Chocolate Coconut Rice Pudding with Berries

DSC06537Okay, I admit, I came up with this one to use up the rest of my coconut milk. But it’s still delicious. It’s best served warm or at room temperature. If it’s left in the fridge it tends to thicken more, so if you do plan to chill it increase the quantities of water and coconut milk a little.

  • 1 cup rice
  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 can coconut milk or cream
  • 1-2 heaped tablespoon cocao (you could use more if you want it stronger)
  • 2-3 tablespoons honey (depending how sweet you want it)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 heaped teaspoons cornflour

Put rice and water in a saucepan and cook until rice is becoming tender. Add coconut milk, cocao, honey and vanilla essence, and continue to cook on low until rice softens and liquid begins to reduce. Dissolve the cornflour in a few tablespoons of water and stir through, keeping it on the heat until it thickens nicely.

Serve with berries (or anything else you want) and a drizzle of maple syrup <3

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I use raw honey in these recipes because it works for me, but if it doesn’t agree with you, or you’re fully vegan then substitute it with the sweetener of your choice. I’d just advise reading up on agave before you reach for it…

I hope you enjoy the recipes. Let me know if you’d like to see more food posts like this on the blog in the future <3

 

Copyright Nirvana Dawson 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And then I took a photo of…

Bodhi picked up my camera today for the second time ever and informed me that he was going to teach himself to use it and take some pictures. Sebastian thought this was a wonderful idea and followed him around crying “Cheese!!! Cheeeeeeesssseee!!!” as often as possible. Which resulted in snaps like this…

DSC06350He then went outside to capture some “art” which resulted in snaps like this…

DSC06378“Light” which resulted in snaps like this…

DSC06395and “Close ups” which resulted in shots like this (that’s our dog by the way)…

DSC06402After he had been outside for a while I decided to check on him. “How are you doing?” I asked, just before stepping outside. “Last photo!” he replied happily.

The last photo was this…

DSC06412In case you’re wondering, that’s the seam of his pants. His last photo was of his butt.

I think he lost the “art” factor at the end ;)

Seeing the same things differently

Yesterday I was flat. Flat for a whole number of reasons that I couldn’t quite place. I had to think about what was missing even as its absence gnawed at me.

Connection was missing, between myself and my husband, which came down to busyness and tiredness rather than lack of love.

Variety was missing, or at least I couldn’t find it under the piles of mess I was sure I’d cleaned up yesterday.

Exercise was missing, in amongst all that needed to be done, I felt sluggish, and that sluggishness kept propelling me towards chocolate.

Chocolate was, sadly, not missing.

I felt, when it really came down to it, that I was missing. Like I had misplaced myself somewhere amongst the “to do” list of every day, and the nightly preparation for it to start again.

You see, every day, mothers and fathers do something quite remarkable… they care about someone else more than themselves. They find themselves noticing things that their kids would like, preparing things to make them smile, finding things that will help them feel fulfilled. They hide wonder in every day and help their child find it.

There is so much joy in caring for others. SO MUCH. There is a gift of perspective in it, of patience, of belonging. It’s a role without comparison and it gives me immeasurable happiness. But sometimes, just sometimes, I miss the days when I was only looking after me.

When I would wake early to run on the beach and swim even in the winter, when I would have a clean house and car free of popcorn and stray socks, when I could safely pee without a toddler dismantling something in the next room, when my nights would be spent laughing with friends, lost in books or dancing the tango. When I had enough spare time to read textbooks just because, or to write endless emails in languages I didn’t quite understand.

I missed that me yesterday, because from where I was in my flatness the grass back then seemed so much greener.

Then late at night, with my babies in bed, I watched a clip called “This is Water”. It was about perspective. And I needed it. Because it reminded me that the ‘me’ I was missing that day, used to ache for everything I have now.

It reminded me how much I wanted this gorgeous family, this wonderful husband, this beautiful house. How much I wanted these messy, smelly dogs and the couches now piled with the washing of the people I love. It reminded me how much I wanted to grow and learn, and how I had learned more from these past five years of motherhood than I ever learned in a book or a yoga class.

The frustration at my son’s cranky mood faded, when I remembered how I had always thought I wasn’t a patient person. And here I was, being one, even when I’d rather not be.

I woke up this morning with the pile of washing still to fold, and the dishes still in the sink. My husband and I were still busy and my kids still did their best to push my buttons.

But I wasn’t missing anymore. I was back here in the thick of it. Frustrated and happy and inspired and wanting more. I’d made a decision to make more time for the things that mattered, but also not to worry so much about all the stuff that didn’t.

Because we’re like chameleons, all of us. We might not look the same as we did a week ago, or a year ago, or as we will in the future. We might not have the same things to say or the same group of friends, but that’s kind of the point. Because we change to fit in with where we are, without ever really changing at all. We are us, vibrant and whole, and able to take this day before us on with gusto.

It cannot make us less.

And every bit of ourselves we have given our children, every ounce of patience we have earned, every mess we have cleaned up as though this time it will actually STAY clean, has given us more perspective, more richness to the colours we can wear whenever the situation calls for them.

There is a story in every day, and every one has a moral, every one has a challenge, every one has humour and every single one has a happy ending hidden in there somewhere. Sometimes it’s easy to see, and sometimes you need to try a little harder… but you can. The days that have come before it have taught you how.tomorrow

Things that shouldn’t raise eyebrows

My son hugged a boy at the playground the other day. He had been playing with him for all of five minutes and he swung him in the air, arms around him and exclaimed “You’re so hansome, I’m going to marry you one day!”

Now I should clarify that my son’s list of future spouses is extensive. He has proposed to more people than I can remember, from old ladies to babies, hippies with flowing hair to rough brickies with impressive beards, so this boy who played a game of dinosaur attack so very well was unremarkable in his proposal.

But I still turned around to several parents with their eyebrows raised. Mine were a little too. And I’m disappointed in that, just as I’m disappointed in myself for whispering that it might be best not to propose to boys for a while, at least unless he was certain he actually wanted to marry one.

I’m disappointed because my reaction was quite normal. And that’s a problem.

We have talked about love. We have talked about the kinds that exist between family, between friends, between pets, and between spouses. We have talked about why he cannot, even if he very much wants to, marry me. We have talked about falling in love and marriage, and different points of views on all of it, and my son, like the rest of our family, firmly believes in equality. To him the idea of certain types of love being considered less valid just because of gender is madness. And I’m proud of that. I’m proud that my five year old can grasp marriage equality better than a lot of politicians.

So I really should have applauded that impromptu proposal. But the raised eyebrows got me, and it’s occurred to me that that’s a bigger battle than the one being fought for those legal rights.

The more that we teach our kids to “accept” it, the more than we unwittingly make it strange. The more that we clarify it, the more that we isolate it. Love should be love, it really should. Our kids don’t need a commentary from us on what makes up the majority, they need the diversity we preach to become organic, because most of the time it is to them. It’s us that make it ‘strange’, even without meaning to.

Who my kids grow up to love will come from who they are, not from an innocent game at a park or playing with makeup, and I will be just as proud of that love no matter what form it takes. But it is my reaction, and yours, and everyone else’s that witnesses these little moments, that can keep it innocent.

The greatest steps towards equality don’t just happen in a courtroom, they happen in the home. They happen when our little girls can go play with trucks wearing boy clothes without a second thought, and our boys can paint their nails because they think it looks funky, without anyone looking at them as though it’s out of place. Its when we don’t bat an eyelid at little girls giggling and announcing they’re engaged any more than we would if it were a girl and a boy. Childhood games will not make them gay any more than they will make them straight. But our acceptance, our lightness about love, will help to raise a generation where equality doesn’t need to be fought for, it will be as normal as kids playing dinosaurs in the park.

love-is-love