I took a moment to interview Denise Cavanough, grandmother to 10, ranging in ages from 13 down to 9 months old, to find out some of her wisdom on the subject of being a grandmother.
How many children, and how many grandchildren do you have?
I have 3 children, and my husband has 3 children, so we have 6 children (3 boys and 3 girls) and we have 10 beauty-full grandchildren.
How have you observed the way you see parenting change since you had children?
I feel since I had children a lot has changed with parenting. When I had my children I was very young and when I left the hospital after having my first baby I felt very nervous about bringing this little baby home. I remember saying to my mum, 'How will I know if he is cold, or if he is hungry?' My mothers reply was, 'if your hot, he will be hot and if your cold, he will be cold.' These simple words allowed me to realise that I knew how to look after my baby. I just had to connect to me first and the answer was inside me. I was never anxious again, I had this confidence inside me that allowed me to make loving choices where my children were concerned. Always keeping them warm, fed and safe to the best of my ability.
Today I feel that there are so many books, rules out there that young mums are trying to follow. New books coming out all the time with new ideas on how to bring up children. This feels to me that it is stretching the mums in an never ending cycle and also where they are trying to control the behaviour of there children. I feel this is adding to the anxiousness of children.
What do your grandchildren reflect to you?
What my grandchildren reflect to me is so amazing, beyond words. If I told you, you wouldn't believe me. They are all so different and so amazing. Just because they are younger and children, does not diminish the reflection they have the power to bring.
One of my grandchildren once said to me, 'Why are you and Poppy fighting? We were gardening and we have different ideas of what we wanted to do. There were no words spoken but he could feel the energy between us. As I went to say that 'we were not fighting', I instantly knew what he meant. He could feel the angst and tension between us even without words .
This is just one reflection that I have had, I could write a book on all the beauty-full things that they have taught me.
Another time was when my 2 eldest grandchildren had disappeared into my room for a while playing, when I went in to see what they were doing they had opened every soap wrapper that I had been given as gifts over the last few years. I love soaps and so I had received a lot in gifts. But I wouldn't use them I would just keep them. When I went in and saw what they had done, I couldn't react or be upset about it because I reaslised, it was like a gift to me, more special then the soap. They let me see what I was doing by not using the soaps. These 2 beauty-full faces looking up at me thinking that maybe they were going to get in trouble and all I could say was, 'thank you, now nanny will have to use them'.
There are ideas, beliefs or even pictures of what being a grandmother should be or look like – how do you feel in relation to this?
Since my first grandchild was born 13 years ago my ideas about being a grandmother have changed enormously. I never spoilt my children and would never spoil any of my grandchildren but I can feel how I used to exhaust myself when they came to stay. It was in the trying to do too much, now I look after them when they visit by looking after me first.
When you go from calling yourself a woman, to a mother and then a grandmother, where do you end up if there are expectations of you to play a certain role?
I don't think I truly felt like a woman until after I was a mother and a grandmother. I was young when I married and still probably only felt like a young girl at the time. It is only in recent years that I have started to feel like I'm a women first and not a wife, mother or a grandmother. This has been a slow changing in me as I have learnt to love myself first as a woman, while being a wife, mother and now a grandmother.
I can feel that with loving me I can offer a more loving reflection to my grandchildren then I had been before. I don't need to buy them stuff I just need to be me when I'm with them and that is all they want from me.
What are some of the ideals and beliefs around being a grandmother? Do you feel that these ideas can inhibit your ability to self-nurture?
When my grandchildren were younger and they would come and stay, I would do everything for them, I would loose any sense of me and make it all about the children. I feel that in treating myself this way there was no self-nurturing, I would just go to bed each night at the same time as the children because I was absolutely exhausted.
I had to realise that these behaviours were just a continuation from when I had my own children – always looking after them and leaving myself until last, never really looking after me. That is what I thought 'a loving mother' did, and so I just continued with the same behaviour never realising the harm I was doing to myself.
Once I became aware of how I was feeling and the exhaustion I felt, it made me stop and ask myself what was I doing and why would I treat myself that way and what was I showing my grandchildren?
I feel that these hidden ideals and beliefs can stop us from truly nurturing ourself in a loving way.
Having a first child is a big change, where did the change begin to happen for you?
It was the moment my son and I dropped off all the visitors (mother & mother-in-law) to the airport. Instantly after we waved goodbye I realised I needed to use the bathroom. I actually had no idea what to do. Do I give my baby to a stranger whilst I go to the toilet? Or... Do I take the baby in the toilet? In that moment I realised my life had changed.
Did you feel you 'became a mother' after your child was born? What does this mean to you?
It took a few months to really settle and feel what a mother is and to be honest, I’m still learning and feeling what a mother is. I think I was in shock the first couple of months after giving birth. Gazing at my baby thinking – wow! I’m your mum. I had my mum and mother-in-law staying with us for support, in a way I still felt like a child who was allowing my parents to look after me despite being 34 years old. Whilst observing my parents – my son’s grandparents, it was clear their way of raising a child was somewhat different to what I felt inside. Not bad or good, simply different.
For me a mother is someone who honours the impulse from her inner heart to simply nurture her child. The more I claimed that, the less I felt like a child, the more I felt like a mother and the more I felt like a woman.
Was your experience of birth equal to the intensity of popular belief?
There is no denying that childbirth for me was a very painful experience. A lot of the women I spoke with prior to giving birth had bad experiences. It was clear and discussed that they had an expectation of what birth was supposed to be like. When things didn’t go to plan then this is where the panic kicked in. So my plan was to have no plan and simply go with what was required at the time of birth.
I clearly remember moments before my water broke I felt an anxiety and intensity. Baby was kicking like crazy and feeling the ‘idea’ of giving birth was getting me very nervous, especially after all these previous birthing stories. In the moment of feeling all those anxious feelings my body started to really tense up. I decided to stop, make a choice and feel what was going on. I realised it was time to accept what was happening, then I realised I had to allow my body to surrender. I could still feel how tense my chest and upper body was. I knew I had to open my heart, drop my shoulders and breath gently. Feeling into my body in that moment created a marker for the rest of the birth. Throughout the whole birthing experience I allowed myself to breath ‘Accept’ breath, ‘Surrender’, breath ‘Open my Heart’ and repeat. Doing this allowed me to get through the pregnancy and enjoy childbirth for what it was despite the pain.
What do you feel personally, is the most important thing when preparing to have a baby?
A lot of people said to me you can never prepare for a baby. In a way I felt this was true because how do you prepare for something you haven’t experienced? In saying that I found there is something deeper inside that automatically starts preparing. It’s almost like we already know what lies ahead. For me less was more, for example the more I started to prepare and think about what was ahead the more I would stress out and get overwhelmed. The less I thought about the future preparations and simply allowed myself to be present in each day, my body naturally knew what to prepare for.
How do you approach valuing the time to connect with your partner since having a baby?
It is very important to constantly connect with my partner on a daily basis. If I don’t, it begins to feel like it’s just Baby and I, with Dad over the other side of the room. When my partner and I are connected we don’t only feel like a couple but we feel like a family. Sometimes days pass where I allowed myself to get caught in the whirl wind of life or there are things that need to be discussed within the relationship that I may be avoiding. It is usually those moments when our baby is unsettled, that is when I am reminded to re-connect with my partner as it helps create a home of love & harmony.
Images by Dean Whitling from All is Light
Love & Beauty with Sheri is a Brisbane & the Gold Coast based business specialising in nurturing beauty therapy treatments.
*The interview series on the Deeply Nurturing Blog is an opportunity for everyday women (and men to come) to share their lived wisdom and experience of pregnancy, birth and parenting.
This blog was originally posted on the very popular Women In Livingness Blog back in February of 2013 and remains as ever relevant in 2016 and will continue to I suspect, for some time to come. With close to 900 comments by women and men from around the world, I am reposting here for readers of the Deeply Nurturing blog to enjoy.
A woman belongs to herself.
She may have a husband or a partner that she loves dearly, but she doesn’t belong to this man.
She may have children, but she does not belong to these children; though she can express beautifully as a mother with her children, being firm, loving, tender and supportive.
She has a mother and father herself, and even though these parents conceived her, gave birth to her and raised her from young, she never, ever belonged to them, but always to herself.
She also might have brothers and sisters, but these siblings she grew up with, experienced the beginnings of life and had much childhood fun with, do not define her; she does not belong to them.
She will have lots of family, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews, but she does not belong to these relationships.
She will have friendships with these connections being very dear and precious to her, but she does not belong to these connections; she belongs to herself.
She may be employed, but she does not belong to her employer, or to her fellow workmates or clients and patients or customers. Although she very much loves her work and all of the people she has the joy of meeting through her work, this does not define her. She does not belong to these roles.
A woman belongs to herself.
She may also have a pet, such as a dog, and even though she has a responsibility to this member of her family, to walk, to feed, to shelter and give it warmth, she does not belong to this pet.
The truth that a woman belongs to herself – first, is the most intrinsic, innate truth and natural law I myself know. This truth is an absolute known to me, and I know it from the wisdom developed in living my life.
Yet everything in this world tells me otherwise.
Every relationship I have ever had at various times in my life, dares to say in some shape or form, that I belong to it and must therefore adhere to its rules.
These are rules that have not honoured the inner feelings that rest deep in my heart.
A natural law to me is that I belong to myself.
A rule would be that I belong to all of the relationships I have – before belonging to myself first.
The order of placing oneself first makes all the difference.
Rules are often expressions that to me occur without words, but rather in a silent body language that can be actually very loud! And often, to stand up and claim this natural law, and truth – that I am a woman and I belong to myself, creates calamity in others, because of all the roles we are so used to playing; all the needs we need met; the spaces that need filling…
But to stand up and to say ‘no’ to this old way of being offers the greatest of joys…
Reminding everyone who may have forgotten – that we belong to ourselves first.
By Shannon Everest.
Interview Series: Nicole Ricketts talks about how building her relationship with herself changed her experience of pregnancy, birth and parenting with her 2nd child.
Can you share a little about yourself and your family?
I am 38 years old and in August 2015 I gave birth to my 2nd child – a little girl, Charlotte Rose and such a little joy she is. My son, Kaiash has just started school and will be 6 in April. My pregnancies were both different. Seeing there were 5 years between them, I was actually in a very different place while pregnant the second time. My partner and I were ‘trying’ for the second child and were a lot more settled in our lives, whereas with Kaiash we had only been together for 4 months and the pregnancy was unexpected.
What is the stand-out thing you have learnt so far in raising your children?
Not only am I raising them – but they are raising me, I am learning more from them each day and they are a massive reflection. Our children are so much more aware of everything around them than we give them credit for. I am not only a mother but also an early childhood educator, and my children and other children I work with, teach me so much everyday. The stand out point would be how aware and in tune our children are – to me now it feels insulting to talk to them as children. A lot of the ways we talk to them, is like they really don't understand.
What is the craziest advice you were given when you were pregnant?
It was just after I had given birth to my first child, I remember sitting in the hospital room and I had a craving for a mocha (chocolate & coffee) – they were what I used to drink all the time. During my pregnancy I had a few of these but always with decaf coffee. I asked the midwife about having coffee and was if it correct that I should order decaf because of the coffee passing through the breast milk. The midwife responded by saying you can have up to 5 coffees a day before it affects the baby. I remember thinking to myself if I had 5 coffees in a day it would so affect me, I wouldn't be able to sleep for weeks – I would be so racy! It didn't make sense to me, because it would affect me. That to me seemed crazy advice even though it may have been the recommendations at the time.
Is there a 'right' length of time to breastfeed, what is your feeling?
I don’t feel like there is an exact correct length of time to breast feed a baby – as long as both baby and mother are happy, continue on. I do remember this feeling when my first child didn’t want to suck anymore, – it was this feeling of 'oh no, he’s not my baby anymore', and I realised then how much I loved having that connection time – that one on one with him that no one else can give him. I didn’t want to let this go. I can see how some mothers could continue breast feeding because they don’t want to lose that feeling, which I feel may not be the best choice for either mum or baby. Quite quickly I found new ways of still connecting with him and having some loving one on one time, which continues today and I will also have with Charlotte after we finish feeding, but right now I am loving breastfeeding her and cherishing every feed!
Was your birth experience different the second time, if so what do you feel created the change?
During my second pregnancy, I really feel I looked after myself a lot more. I would rest when I felt to and took more time for me to stretch my body, go for walks and had some very loving massages. This though, was just continuity from how I had been living before I was pregnant. I had already truly started to nurture myself a lot more. Kaiash was born right on his due date, where Charlotte Rose decided she wasn’t waiting and came 4 weeks early.
Is there time to celebrate yourself as a woman when your a mother?
With my first baby, for the first 5 weeks, I don't even think I got dressed – it was all about the baby. After my second baby, I was dressed from day two. Whether or not I have been celebrating myself as a woman – I am definitely working on that!
There is a massive label that gets put on you when you have a baby and you can start to see yourself just as a mother, you can forget that first of all, you are a woman before you are anything else. Is there time to celebrate myself as a woman? – there is definitely time but whether we take it or not – that is the answer. What I have learnt with my second child, is they really reflect what is going on with you, in your house and in your family. If I am stressed out and not spending the time on me, she feels that and she will let me know – it stresses her out also. Once she is stressed out then you get further stressed out, with no time to do anything and you keep running around, going around in circles, in a little rat race. The more you can start off going, 'no, I am going to spend more time on me and stick with my rhythms before giving birth', the more the child falls into that and they pick up on that and appreciate that. They know, 'my mum is awesome, she is staying with herself and her rhythms, I am safe and I don't need to stress out.' Taking time to celebrate yourself as a woman is super important not just for you but everyone else in the house. So the answer is yes, there is definitely time – but you need to take it.
There are many options when having a baby for your maternity care, how did you arrive at your decision to hire a private midwife?
My partner and I have private health insurance and I assumed I would birth in a private hospital. It wasn't until I became pregnant that I discovered that to birth in a private hospital you have to be under the care of a obstetrician. That wasn't the path I wanted to go on, I was also a low risk pregnancy so I started looking into what else was available. When I heard about private midwives I knew that felt right for me. Some of the reasons that contributed, were private midwives low intervention rates, building a relationship with a midwife over the pregnancy and having that trusted support during pregnancy, birth and 6 weeks post birth.
Can you describe the care you received and what it practically encompassed?
I began seeing my midwife when I was around 14 weeks pregnant in her clinic My Own Midwife at Burleigh on the Gold Coast. My local GP had done a blood test to confirm I was pregnant and ordered an ultrasound to check dates, so I took them with me to the first meeting. The first appointment was all the information about what care I would receive and the out of pocket costs of having a private midwife, almost all appointments have medicare rebates. From then onwards I saw my midwife once a month, where we would have discussions about preparing for birth, my diet, how I was feeling, caring for a newborn, breastfeeding, having a toddler and a newborn etc. She ordered ultrasounds and blood tests as required, and checked my blood pressure, and the foetal heartbeat and growth etc. There was no need to see any other carer during my pregnancy. Later in my pregnancy I saw my midwife fortnightly then towards the end, weekly. The same midwife I saw all through my pregnancy was my birthing midwife at the Gold Coast University Hospital in the birth centre. Then after the birth she came for 4 home visits for the first week to our home in Pottsville. Then we saw her once a week in her clinic until 6 weeks post birth.
A lot of people may think that having a private midwife means your planning to birth at home, what was your experience of having a private midwife?
I gave birth in a hospital with a private midwife who I had developed a relationship with and felt comfortable with which felt the most supportive option for me.
What were the benefits of having a private midwife?
The benefits for me were that over time, you develop a relationship with your midwife, they get a feel for you and how you want your birth to go. For me I didn't have a set plan of what I wanted to happen, it was trusting myself and whatever felt right at the time and being supported in that. Over the pregnancy if I had questions or any symptoms that came up I would text or call my midwife. Mostly for me in both my pregnancies the main benefit was feeling supported and heard.
Were there any down sides to this type of care?
There weren't any down sides for me.
Marcella, pictured above with daughter Audrey, 7 weeks old.
What was the stand-out quality from having a private midwife for you and your family?
We had someone that knew us. To arrive at the hospital in labor and know who was going to meet me there. took away some anxiety I felt about giving birth to my first baby.
Having your own midwife to discuss medical information as well as how you are feeling about pregnancy, birth and having a baby, and everything else in between were the distinguishing qualities.
Interested in finding out where to find a private midwife that works in partnership with a hospital?
Liane, pictured above with daughter Lulu.
For most people, a Doula may still be a very foreign concept. A Doula offers a unique service in supporting whole families through pregnancy, birth and the early postnatal period. They offer practicalities and information but also support with all the changes having a baby brings to women's bodies, families and lives. Shannon spoke with Liane Mandalis, mother of two about her experience with employing her services as a Doula during her second pregnancy.
Why did you engage a Doula during your second pregnancy?
For my first pregnancy I wanted the 'perfect' natural birth so I hired a very committed home-birth midwife with 35 years experience who had an extremely low cesarean rate (my biggest fear). We shared the same set of ideals and beliefs about how to go about the perfect, non-medicalised birth.
When my labour started I had everything set up for this in my home but no back-up plan. 35 long hours later we had a problem in that my baby’s head was stuck and we could no longer continue birthing at home. Despite our best intentions, my daughter was born by cesarean section in hospital.
On reflection, I see that her head got stuck because my head got ‘stuck’. I was so fixed on my ideal non-medicalised home-birth that I hadn’t truly allowed myself the freedom to feel that there were other options. I now feel that I was ‘rebelling’ from a system that I believed could not support me. In my head, I had made the hospital and its staff the opposing team and created a battle within myself of ‘us’ against ‘them’. Ironically and perhaps perfectly, after the initial struggle with the doctors was resolved, I was able to find a surrender and humility that was truly beautiful. I was able to ‘let go’ and let the birth unfold in its own way and when I did this, the support was there.
Despite this, in the following weeks I was plagued with thoughts of having ‘failed' at giving birth and so, the second time around, I wanted to do things differently. I wanted to focus more on 'me' and not a set ideal, which I had discovered can only lead to anguish if not achieved. That was not a type of pressure that I wished to subject my family or myself to a second time around. My learning from this was that if I stay centred and strong within myself, then what unfolds from that point can be dealt with from that solid foundation.
I needed help building this foundation, which began with self-nurturing. A Doula is there to help a woman nurture herself, bring this quality to her pregnancy and birth, and in turn help her to naturally nurture her baby, partner and other children.
What support did your Doula provide?
When my emotions or mental processing got the better of me, I found that she helped bring me back to what was real and practical and important, the connection with myself.
I realised that I had a choice whether to let myself go into overwhelm and get lost in the sea of fears and insecurities I had around birth or I could just stop and feel what was coming up for me and honour that process by staying present with myself. This was greatly assisted along the way by the gentle but firm, loving support my Doula offered. She gave me no indulgence in what kept me in overwhelm but saw things for what they were and talked to me openly and honestly about them. Chatting in this way over many cups of tea was very healing for me and it was a significant aid in helping me establish my foundation of self-care.
Do you feel having a Doula is a good option for supporting pregnant women and families?
Pregnancy and birth can be such a 'package', which can then come loaded with a dizzying array of options, opinions, 'shoulds' and 'shouldn’ts'. If it's your first pregnancy, you can tend to feel a bit bombarded by what to do and how to do it. I found having a Doula helped me to feel which of these, if any, were of true value to me.
My partner also found this a great support. We felt we had a chance to revisit our previous decisions and re-choose knowing now, what had or hadn’t truly served. Having someone to talk to and support in this way gave us the space to do this.
What feeling were you left with at the completion of the Doula's services?
Tenderness. I feel that this quality was what brought me back to me. I learnt (and am still learning) to be tender with myself, through another being so very tender with me, and from here I allowed a very natural tenderness to develop within me and with my baby, which I had not felt with my first. Exquisitely, this tenderness then began to shape the relationship with my older daughter and again with my partner, so no one was really missing out.
By being so desperate in my first pregnancy to achieve the ideal of the ‘perfect birth’ and letting myself become ruled by these rigid goals and investments, I couldn’t see the complication and complexity that I was lacing my every move with. I was completely overriding any natural impulse that was being offered to me through signs and signals from my body, that it really was no wonder after such an enormous amount of disregard, that I needed help and a lot of it, to birth my baby.
In stark contrast, humbled by my prior experience and booked into hospital for my second birth (completely at ease should I need another cesarean) my labour progressed so quickly and smoothly that there was no time to get to the hospital and my second daughter was born at home without a breath of complication. In hindsight this experience was no surprise at all but simply a confirmation of the new foundation of love and care that I had committed to.
Often when I tell my birth stories to people they see it in terms of a ‘triumph’ over the medical system in a way that says ‘she got her home birth second time around’. But for me, this was not the case and the location of the birth is irrelevant.
For me it was never a case of surgical versus ‘natural’ but more a case of the glorious triumph of acceptance over fear, of simplicity over complexity, of tenderness over hardness, of connection over disconnection, of openness over protection but most importantly – of learning to be the love I already am instead of fighting and resisting this.
At a time where rates of postnatal depression are at an all-time high, do you feel the time working with the Doula has supported you onwards into family life? If so, how?
Definitely. It has not only helped to deepen my relationship with my baby and with my family but also to deepen in my relationship with myself and with the world. Prior to this I always felt at odds with my environment, seemingly disconnected to the world around me when really this was just a reflection of my lack of connection to myself. By choosing to not direct all my energy and focus outside myself by chasing lofty ideals and instead by focusing on my body and honouring my natural nurturing ways, I was able to re-establish and rebuild my connection with myself which of course, naturally led to a greater sense of feeling connected to my family and to others in the world around me. I have an enormous sense and appreciation of how this is an ever-deepening process with no finite end and while this would have perhaps terrified me previously, I now just smile knowing that there is no end to the depth that we can go.
Note from Shannon*
I wanted to interview Liane, not only because she has such a precise, honest and beautiful way of expressing but because what she has to say and the evolution of herself and her family is such an inspiration. This inspiration is what the Interview series of blogs are all about.
In the first of the interview series, Nicole Serafin, 43 and mother of 3 young children answers questions on her preparation for pregnancy, birth and raising her daughter, Sumha. With her husband, Nicole runs two businesses, a compounding pharmacy and hair salon – Nicole's Hair Design in Northern NSW.
When you first began talking about conceiving what was important to you and your husband?
"It was a big decision, one that we felt we needed to take seriously. We talked about our relationship with each other, the one we had with ourselves and how that may affect or impact on our child. We felt it was important to look at every aspect of our lives, dealing with whatever we felt we had avoided, our hurts or lack of communication we had with or between each other."
What length of time did you allow for this to take place?
"It took us 8 months before we decided to begin to try for the conception of our daughter, and within 3 months we were pregnant. Once that happened, it presented another layer of how we lived and were with each other that needed to be looked at and addressed. It was a constant unfolding, there was always a new level we felt our relationship could go to, a deeper level of love and understanding that we could allow ourselves to feel and live."
What was your experience of this pregnancy?
"The pregnancy was amazing, I felt like I had been given a ticket back to myself, a new level of self-care kicked in – how I lived each day, the way I was with myself and others and how I went about my daily chores, all changed. I made choices to support myself, listening to my body, what I needed to eat, how I needed to exercise and when I needed to rest. When I chose not to listen, my body would quickly show me that it was not ok, that I needed to stop and feel all that was going on both within and around me."
What was your experience of Sumha's birth?
"It was like many births, there were the contractions and physical pain that occur during labour, but there was an allowing, I knew I had to get myself out of the way and allow whatever was needed. I could feel that at a certain point it was as if someone flicked a switch, and it was no longer about me, and as soon as our daughter was born, that switch was flicked again and I was back to me, my body was again my own and ready for the next phase of pregnancy and birth."
How did your pre-conception preparation, pregnancy & birth experience carry on to raising Sumha?
"Everything was based on what we felt was needed – from breastfeeding, sleep rhythms, introducing solids, when to start day care etc. Letting go of getting it right, allowing ourselves the space to make mistakes, reminding ourselves we were not perfect, making adjustments as needed. If we made the choice to commit to feeling what was needed and not thinking, then we had a greater chance of being able to support her and the family as a whole."
Further reading: On the Women in Livingness Blog, you can read the article, Cervical Cancer at 19 to True Health at 40, by Nicole.
Marcella, on having her photo taken for the shoot:
"Once having my photo taken was a hated experience. I would never smile, I would want it over with quickly. But now it is an experience I enjoy and even request. I appreciate myself when I view these photos of myself. I appreciate my beauty, my love for my family and the joy. Shannon has captured the joy in my heart, through her camera."
We have a choice in relationships – be that with children, partners, friends, work colleagues or even encounters with strangers at the shops, to communicate something through the way we are, the way we move and the way we express. How often do we stop to feel what we are actually communicating by the way we are in relationships to other people, and as one such example: children, teenagers and young adults? Not in self-judgement but in an honesty to reflect on and ask ourselves, is this truly what I want to show, reflect or inspire that life, love and relationships are about?
As a child I developed an understanding of relationships by looking around at everyone and everything and registering all of the gestures, conversations, hellos, goodbyes, the facial expressions, the looks, the tone of voice and the body language – from this I could see a lot going on. I was watching and feeling my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends of the family and people in the local community.
What I almost always noticed, was that deep down there was a depth of love between people that was rarely expressed or lived, often when it was it was at high moments such as at a party, a wedding, a birthday or Christmas. The high moments that we can use to 'get by' in relationships, as opposed to a steadiness and consistency that provides a real fuel to move through challenges within, as a couple and a family in a way that builds and deepens with each day.
As a child, I rarely saw couples reaching out and touching each other with tenderness and care, for no other reason but to express the way someone felt about, or to another, or simply because they felt super joyful in their own body and couldn't contain the want to share that. I would see adults relate to their children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews with more sensitivity and tenderness but not often the adults with other adults. In fact this is rarely seen today.
I could feel that people more often kept their feelings to themselves but the suppression of these feelings would lead the way for a building of frustration, resentment and bitterness. I would see adults accepting things in their life that didn’t feel right and how they hardened to cope with this and almost to shut it down.
All of this today, we still see most commonly as a societal ‘norm’, only in addition to what was then, we now have a faster paced life with a high level of dependency upon technology and the many ways to seemingly connect with others online – an online world rife with bullying, trolling and a means to escape. With all of this together it appears to be that relationships within families, workplaces and the community at large have disintegrated to a far worse degree since I was a child, 30-ish years ago, our current high rates of divorce are just one marker of this.
Looking at the patterns that take place in our relationships couldn’t be more important. Rather than repeat what my parents have lived, my grandparents and even their grandparents, there is the opportunity to stop, be honest and actually assess what works and what doesn’t. It is worth asking ourselves why do we repeat things that clearly don't serve us in any way. It isn’t about perfection, it isn’t about judging ourselves – it is about being open to the fact that it can be different, that repeating ill patterns rather than supportive ones does not have to be an automatic pilot, go-to point. Re-visiting my observations from childhood about relationships has allowed me to begin to make the necessary changes and adjustments to communicate to my children and to everyone that:
This article was inspired by Serge Benhayon who recently presented a workshop on Expression and asked this question of me (and others) in a small group setting. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to express what I truly felt that day, my whole body thanked me.
Deeply Nurturing Blog
The Deeply Nurturing Blog serves as an online magazine, full of articles, interviews and stories relating to pre-conception, pregnancy, birth, caring for babies, transitions, raising children, relationships and women's health. By and about everyday women who are inspiring by their simple everyday choices in taking responsibility for their health and wellbeing.