Today was tough and amazing. And then tough. And then amazing. And all that can be put down to my head space. Lucy over at Lulastic and the Hippyshake is doing an incredible series on Instagram at the moment tracking the moods of her menstrual cycle. She refers to each stage as a season. Sometimes it takes someone sharing their experience and their perception for you to recognise patterns in yourself that have long been there, but you never knew existed.
I am deep in a cold and blustery winter. It goes the same for me each time round. When I feel internal chaos, I desire external calm. I like things to be tidy. My typically extroverted personality cocoons and I turn inward. I like space. I like to get lost in my head. I want long baths. I want to write and write and write. None of these things are really compatible with sharing a small home with three children and being the only person on call. And this change in me is not typically embraced by those around me. Fun and vibrancy turns to quiet introspection. Enthusiastic yes-es turn more frequently into maybes and noes.
We spent the weekend away exploring as we often do and the kids were keen to get back to their various projects. Our living space quickly became an explosion of curiosity. Today, it didn’t make me smile, it made me anxious. I felt the churn with each opened paint bottle and unraveling of tape. With every movement in the kitchen and barefoot step into the wet and muddy world outside. With every excited question that peeled me away from my own contemplation.
Mid-afternoon, after several morning sessions at the blender making ‘drinks’, my seven year old asked me to make biscuits. Yes! Baking! Something orderly and measured. Something calm. Something I could get my head around. ‘What recipe do you want to make?’ His answer caught me off guard. ‘I’m not using a recipe. I’m going to make my own.’
What? Does he not appreciate the fine art and precision of a good cookie? Does he not understand that 7983 batches of biscuits later I still would not step into the ‘proper pastry chef’ realm of creation and the unknown. We are unqualified for that kind of adventure. Could he not see the waste of ingredients this would yield? And the mess!! And we wouldn’t even have edible biscuits and it would RUIN EVERYTHING.
Welcome to my insecure and controlling internal dialogue that visits me in the bleakness of this season.
None of this passed my lips. It is always good to suck those monologues back in with a long, deep breath. When I catch myself in the death spiral of unreasonableness, I breathe and try to find calm.
‘What do you need for your recipe?’
I braced for the odd. His morning drink included lemon, milk, jam and a sprinkle of cocoa.
With his sparkly eyes and excited smile, he told me he didn’t need my help. That icy wind howled. But I couldn’t let my winter destroy his sunny mood. So I said, ‘of course, let me know if you need help with the oven.’
I gave myself what I needed. I walked out the front door.
Not figuratively. Literally. My eldest son was playing out there, having made his own escape, and I sat and watched the moody sky and falling leaves while he twirled his stick, battling the wind. He is also partial to deep, profound thought and has zero expectation of anyone in his company to do anything but the same. It was perfect.
I blocked out the near certain destruction of my kitchen as I heard the bustling energy of a seven year old and his three year old sister, and breathed in the calm.
Not too long later a little voice broke the silence. “Mum, we are ready to bake them!”
I walked in to the kitchen, and my eyes focused on two beaming faces holding a tray of very biscuity-looking biscuits. The important bit. The bit that felt like warm sun on a cold day.
When I don’t find moments in my day to give myself what I crave, it is so much more difficult to be who I want to and need to be for my family. Without those moments of quiet in the breeze, my mind would find it easy to let the cloud of flour obscure the view of these proud children.
We put the tray in the oven.
They certainly looked like biscuits.
And they baked like biscuits.
And to no ones surprise but mine, they tasted like biscuits. Delicious biscuits. Which he has named ‘The Secret Cinnamon Cookie.’ I can’t share the recipe, because he has plans to infiltrate and dominate the world cookie market with his amazing new invention.
The recipe is recorded to make over and over. Like his drinks, he wrote down his measurements, so sure it would work and so sure he would want to make it again. With precision. Or perhaps, so people like me can replicate things they are too scared to discover for themselves.
Staying in tune with myself, and, as much as possible, honouring where I am and what I need, is such an important element for me in being able to be outwardly centred. When I fight against myself, that internal battle leaves so little room for anyone or anything else. I know that feeling of not caring for my own needs and then projecting that by not being able to accommodate the needs of those around me. And it is exhausting. These biscuits represented a lot for me today. I stand again in awe of these confident little people, reminding myself that throughout my own seasons, whether the changes are the whims of each passing month, or the twists and turns of life, I want to make space for myself in this equation. When I can be patient and kind with myself, I can quiet and reassure that occasional internal unrest, and not let my own fears and doubts get in their way.