I have spent a lot of the last five years measuring up all my failings as a mother.
I worry that I’m too introverted… That I don’t engage enough… That I read too much… That I need quiet time in order to be okay in my body. I think I am less than the perfect mother because I need, I crave, I adore my work, and I take time away each day to do it.
I see so painfully all my failings, my spiky bits, the hard parts and I hope my daughters can forgive me for them when they are older. The truth of parenting is I absolutely do not enjoy parenting every single minute of every single day, and I think it is downright bullshit and so harmful when any person claims to or tells you should to.
I love my children deeply and ferociously. I would choose them again. I was born to be their mother. And still, it is hard. And fraught with the pains of being human, of living in a world with physical and energetic limitations.
I’ve spent a long time feeling anxiety and shame about my inside feelings. I didn’t think they were the right feelings to have. That it make me a bad person to have them. That I wasn’t allowed to feel them. And I sure as fuck couldn’t speak them. I don’t know what changed for me.
All I know is once I started speaking my truth — my full truth — the one that isn’t pretty or easily resolved or inspiring — life got deeper and a little more true.
Wherever you are on this big old path… I just want to send a wish from my heart… That you and I both know we are allowed to have all our feelings. And that we are worthy enough just as we are.
I get it bae. Love you.
P.S. Brutal honesty- I wrote this on the toilet because it is the weekend and it’s the only quiet place I can think. Except they found me within 2.5 seconds and both my 5 year old and 18 month old crammed themselves into the same cubic metre as me until I kicked them out and my 18 month old had a meltdown and I yelled at my husband to let me TAKE A SHIT IN PEACE GODDAMIT.
P.P.S. “Enjoy every moment! They grow up too soon!” – obviously spoken by someone who is able to take a dump by themselves without an 18 month old trying to peer into the toilet or unroll every damn roll of toilet paper in the place.
I was hoping me and Mr D could have a hot date together for it, but he had to do Dad-Duty, so I had to ride solo like the Lone Ranger. The Lone Ranger with his beloved horsey Toto. Was it Toto? Let me check… WTF? TONTO? And it wasn’t his horse? WHAT? WHAT WORLD HAVE I BEEN LIVING IN????
Anyways… what I’m trying to say… it was just me and my journal. Which is totally a hot date in my books anyway.
I took some illustrated notes, coz that’s how I digest information… shared them on Instagram. Just like at the Growth Summit.
Let it begin!
I love how he started his talk:
I’m just one guy, sharing what he has experienced and learned.
If your heart or your head don’t agree with it, just leave it behind.
Wise advice for everything in life (and business).
Two important pieces of parenting wisdom he shared:
The best parenting question you can use over and over again is ask your kids: “And how do you feel about that?”
Instead of just jumping in with every solution or what’s right or wrong. Just ask them how they feel. Let them develop faith in their own gut instinct.
Whenever your kid tells you something (even if you feel freaked out about it), make sure you understand to use two voices.
1. What you think in your head
2. What you say outloud to your kids And always stay calmer than your kids.
This talk was bloody good and heart breaking all at once.
I felt really panicky once Steve started talking about the issues with raising girls right now.
He said he has spent his whole career focussing on men and boys, because as a family therapist, he believed he had to work where the disaster zone was.
And now the disaster zone is girls. Teenage girls.
After I came home, I had to have a loooooong talk with Chris on the couch. I went through all the notes of the lecture and told him what all the data was saying.
It was really full on.
I feel like I’ve been a naiive, overly-optimistic Pollyanna about the depiction of women + girls in media.
Probably because I don’t feel that affected by it – I’m pretty in love with being Leonie usually.
But when Steve spoke of the marketing research done eight years ago that found that 8 year old girls were an untapped market, highly susceptible to social approval… and decided to exploit that…
I just felt rage.
8 year old girls, man! 8 YEAR OLD GIRLS!
Kids that because of bullshit marketing start believing they need to worry about their weight and attractiveness.
That’s all kinds of messed up.
I guess the thing is — we know that the above stuff isn’t really true.
Well, I hope we do.
And we also all grew up in an age pre-social media where we didn’t have to feel viligant over what our schoolmates were saying about us online.
Steve spoke about kids with iphone addictions who wake up during the night to check what people think of them.
And where as we – as adults – usually have a better sense of self and have coping mechanisms – for our kids… it’s way too much, too soon.
They don’t have the emotional resilience and sense of self… because that time in their childhood is being robbed from them.
What each age of girlhood is all about.
This was useful to look at ages and what each girl needs at each stage.
After this part, I just felt so so so bloody grateful to be married to Mr Dawson. Grateful that my girls get to have this dad who does this stuff totally innately.
And to try and garner some patience for my now five year old to tell me continuous friendship angst stories. And know that she needs to for healthy development.
We can only teach our kids what we embody.
And a beautiful way to finish up. Steve reminds us that we can only teach our kids what we believe and know.
I was thinking about how perfect this video fitted in.
Our girls have to be surrounded by images and dolls of what it is to be a real girl and woman.
The lecture was incredible. Brilliant.
I’m so grateful that Steve is in the world, sharing his much needed message.
And am very grateful to my local council for doing such an amazing thing as bringing him to our town to help parents.
Steve is beyond wise. An utter earth angel.
Highly recommend. His voice is so needed in the world.
I would highly recommend any of his brilliant books:
I’m still here. Still hurling. Still spending my days laying horizontal, praying to the vomit gods that this particular wave of nausea doesn’t end in a tidal wave out my mouth.
I’m managing to keep enough food and water down that I don’t need to head back to hospital right now. Small wins!
Sometimes my spirit feels really low. I sometimes feel scared terrified about this lasting for another six months until the end of this pregnancy. I sometimes feel hopeless, miserable, depressed and anxious about how out of control my body is right now, and how little control I have of my life.
Sometimes I feel at peace. Sometimes I have enough bandwidth to gently coach myself through the hard moments “Okay, we can do this, let’s stand up and go to the bathroom now, you can do this. Okay, you’re vomiting now, that’s okay, you’re going to be okay. You’re doing great honey. I know this sucks. Yep, we can do this.”
Sometimes I don’t have enough bandwidth. Sometimes I have faith that even if it goes for another six months, we’ll be okay. Sometimes I don’t have that faith at all.
Sometimes I have to lean on Chris’ faith. I have to lean into him and cry and tell him “Just tell me that everything is going to be okay. Just give me a pep talk.”
And sometimes he finds the right words and sometimes he doesn’t. And either way, it ends up being okay.
I remember reflecting back on my first pregnancy, during my first experience of hyperemesis gravidarum. And how my prominent memory was of being so sick I couldn’t even read a book. And part of me would think “How is that even possible? Maybe I was overthinking it.”
Nope. Nope, I really wasn’t. It’s a real joy when I feel well enough to read.
With reading and writing and my usual brain facilities off on holiday somewhere, my ears seem to be the ones most able to delight in something.
These songs have been playing on repeat and bring me an enormous amount of pleasure in amidst it all:
And because this tickles my funny bones:
I’m living in a dreaming land at the moment. A hazy, soft world where the usual Leonie personality, drive, ego and identity don’t really exist. I’m too sick to talk and do do do. I’m sure this is a good lesson for a person who loves doing so much. A person like me.
So I lay. I lay, sometimes patient, sometimes bored, sometimes pissed at God.
I wait. I wait for the wave of nausea to pass so I can try to eat.
I wait for the crappiness to pass so soft tendrils of peace can find me again.
I wait for the illness to end.
And I sleep. I sleep because I am growing a whole new body in my uterus. I sleep because I’m on three different anti-vomiting medications and all of them are drowsy-making ones. I sleep because my body is tired from vomiting.
I sleep deeply, my body pinned down by the tired, liquid limbs into the mattress.
I sleep and I dream. I dream wild, vivid dreams. Dreams of the past. Dreams of hurt and pain, of all the ones that couldn’t love me the way I needed. Dreams where I finally voice: I’m angry. This wasn’t okay with me. Dreams of all the forgotten possibilities.
It’s Groundhog Day in my dreams. Where I follow the loops of my life and try out all the different options again and again.
And I come to realise:
No matter what, I would have chosen what I chose. The life I have is the life I always would have chosen. Even if it isn’t perfect. Even though it’s splendidly human.
Ultimately, they are dreams of healing. Resolving.
Sometimes I am whole and unhazy enough to see that this new little soul must have chosen me for a reason, and I chosen it. And that part of that preparation is cleaning out the decks of my body and spirit.
Sometimes I am grateful for the gentle washes of new wisdom that arrive at the shores of my soul.
About how I can accept the duality of this situation: that it is good and bad and awful and painful and enlightening all at once.
I don’t even know if this makes sense out of context, but these words from My Beloved World took my breath away with recognition:
Those things that are true at the same time.
The moments where I crouch on the shower, grovelling, searching for God beneath the cracks. Those few, glistening moments in the afternoon when my crystal sun catcher is flooded by a beam of light and cascades rainbows around my room. Feeling hopelessly alone, feeling deeply supported.
Everything is going to be okay.
So much love and gentleness,
P.S. If I can please make a request – if you have any healing suggestions, please don’t share them with me unless there is evidence that it cures hyperemesis gravidarum specifically. This isn’t traditional morning sickness. It’s a complicated and serious illness with little known cures. I understand you really want me to feel better. Me too, dearest. Thank you for your loving thoughts. xoxo
A couple of weeks ago, I shared this post on how I was doing pregnancy differently this time around and what I was doing to keep my hyperemesis gravidarum under control.
(If you don’t know what HG is – it’s supreme crazy chronic morning sickness that results in all day nausea and vomiting. It’s an awful, awful, awful illness that can be life threatening if not managed correctly.)
Anyways, at that point, I was suuuuuper excited about the fact that I’d managed to avoid hospitalisation.
Woo hoo! I was thinking. This sucks biiiig time but at least I’m not THAT bad.
And then, as hyperemesis has a tendency of doing – it got worse. Much worse.
It got bad.
As my acupuncturist said:
Hyperemesis is like a many-headed monster. You cut one head off, you think you’ve got it treated, and it grows another. It’s incredibly difficult to stay on top of.
So I ended up in emergency for hydration drips and medications three times.
And then I got admitted to hospital as an inpatient for four days. My doctor wanted me to stay in for longer but I was really missing my lovely husband and daughter and soft soft bed by that point, so we agreed for my hunky love to nurse the shit out of me, and to head back into emergency as soon as I couldn’t keep fluids down again.
Please know: I’m not that strong and positive about this. I’ve heard from a number of HG suffererers who’ve wondered how the dick I can be so positive all the time. Please let me assure you, I’m not. I’ve cried every single day for the last five weeks. I’ve felt gloomy, depressed, completely rooted, unable to keep going, wondering: what the fuck was I THINKING getting pregnant again?
It’s such a bullshit illness that’s hard to describe. It’s relentless and emancipating. As one of my Facebook tribe said “I can usually see the positive in anything, but when I was going through hyperemesis I found it difficult to find any blessing in it. I still can’t.”
I feel the same. I think it’s a ridiculous invention and really wish women didn’t have to suffer from it.
At the same time, I’m immensely grateful for many, many things:
I’m grateful that Ostara is old enough to cope with me being ill and immobile and away from home. I’m grateful that my hunky love isn’t tied up with a job out of the house, and can easily cover my absence in parenting and tending to the house. I’m grateful that Chris’ parents moved into our granny flat in March – they’ve been a huge support with looking after Starry and making me food.
I’m grateful for our house. It really is a beautiful space to be in – it’s so quiet and surrounded by green and fresh air and it’s just lovely to be here. I actually don’t mind vomiting so much when I’m outside – I feel like all the trees are leaning over me whispering in sympathy and the wind brings just the right amount of cleanse and everywhere, everything is green and fecund and alive and everything changes in a moment so it’s hard to stay stuck in misery.
I’m grateful that I live in Australia and am tended to by the amazing health care service here (all my emergency visits and hospital stay costs me zero! How amazing is that?) I’m also grateful that I don’t have to worry about money for medication – especially since one of them is kind of expensive. I am hugely grateful to the kindness and loving care and hardworking energy that those earth angels called doctors and nurses and midwives are. Those people CARE, and they make it their lives to tend to others. I was struck silent often by how amazing they are. I will never, ever grouch about taxes again. I will happily pay them with love knowing just how much of an impact they are making on so many lives on a daily basis.
I’m grateful for my business team – they really are incredible. I’m grateful that my business is set up to keep on rolling without me – still providing amazing programs and customer service to our wonderful clients. I’m grateful that even with me laying in a bed unable to move for most of a month, my business thrived (here’s the article I wrote about how to gear your biz to do the same) – and even GREW. It actually had its largest ever month after I wrote that article(!!) It completely blows my mind – it feels unimaginable to the Leonie of three years ago!
I’m grateful that I managed to be puke free for the Academy coaching call I had scheduled in. We ended up having a bloody magnificent time talking all about creating a six figure team (recording is available in the Academy). I’m grateful that I’ve had pockets of puke-free time since hyperemesis began five weeks ago. I’m especially grateful for this afternoon’s pocket of peace after a week of laying strictly horizontal to limit the voms.
And guys, one day (hopefully soon), I’ll stop talking about voms completely.
HOW GREAT WILL THAT BE?
I’m immensely, immensely grateful for modern medicine. I’m a big ole alternate-therapy loving girl, but I am absolutely not afraid at all of combining the best of Eastern, Western and hippy medicine. They are all tools in the toolbelt and they all have their place. Hyperemesis gravidarum is a bloody serious illness – if I was born a couple hundred years ago, I’d be well and truly el fuckedo right now. It can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, termination of pregnancy, organ failure and death. In fact, many biographers postulate that Charlotte Bronte (author of Jane Eyre) died from hyperemesis gravidarum in her first pregnancy. At my point of hospital admission, my body wasn’t producing enough glucose to sustain a growing baby, and my muscles were starting to break down.
I hate to think where me and wee baby would be if we didn’t have the support of modern medicine.
Most of all, I’m grateful that I still have a strong, healthy wee babe inside me. I have asked myself a million times over the last five weeks:
Do I REALLY want to be pregnant? Do I REALLY want another kid?
And the answer is this:
No, I don’t really want to be pregnant (for some women it’s a blissful experience – for me it’s a tsunami of vomit at this stage of the game). No, I don’t want to be this sick.
But I really want this child.
I love this child already. I love that it chose me. I love what its spirit feels like.
I love that Ostara has chosen this child too. I love that she talks to wee baby already, and asks to put her head on my belly so she can listen and talk to her sibling.
I love that my husband is unwavering in his belief that this child belongs to us.
And despite everything – despite it all –
Love is calling me forward.
As ancient as the beginning of time, love calls upon us to do what we could not do without.
Love asks of us great things,
so that we may be given the greatest gift of all.
I’m sending you love, peace, gentleness + kindness to where you are right now,