Today was a significant day for me on my journey into motherhood… I made it out of the house and into town by 11am- on my own with Ava. Can I just stop right there and give myself a pat on the back! New Mums out there I’m sure will agree that this is a real achievement. Leaving the house, let alone on time, is like a military operation at the moment. When it’s Carl and I taking Ava out things are so much simpler, but when I’m trying to get out with her on my own, it takes me forever! Mum’s with more than one child- I take my hat off to you! You are all super mums!!
So we made it out and met my good friend in town. Can I just say, I love town! That is because I love shopping- actually let me re-phrase, I love bargain hunting! Oh how I love a good bargain! Bargain shopping lends itself to a good mooch through the shops. I love grabbing a great deal, rummaging through the sale racks and charity shops knowing I’ve bought something for good value or really unique and unusual at a bargain price! You can see why my husband prefers to shop on his own and is constantly campaigning for Men to have their own waiting room. Every shopping trip, he runs off the contents dream list for this waiting area, sounding similar to this effect; Starbucks, play station, magazines, TV- with Sky Sports and food! Shop owners- listen up!
So today, as we ventured into town, I should have really enjoyed getting out shopping again and seeing my friend for a catch up. This couldn’t have been further from the truth though.
First of all, I had put Ava in a baby carrier that we’d bought rather than the sling which she’s become accustomed to. However, once she was in the carrier I soon realised that although the packaging assured us it was suitable for 0+ months- I respectfully disagree! Ava was wobbling around all over the place, her head was not supported well. In fact, I ended up practically holding and supporting her head while she was in the carrier which totally defeated the object of using one in the first place! The whole point of using these carriers is so you can have two free hands! I’m kidding- there are plenty of other reasons- but when shopping, having two hands to rummage through the clothing rail is a must!
So already, before I’d even left the car park I was constantly checking to make sure Avas head was supported and she wasn’t going to fall out. The natural Mum and baby look- you know the ones you see- Practically mother earth, with baby wrapped lovingly to Mums chest, was anything but as I awquardly tried to hold Ava upright in this carrier. Picture this; bulging rucksack on my back replacing the changing bag, phone in one hand because my clothing attire had no pockets! (from now on I am voicing my opinion that all dresses, in fact all clothing should have pockets!) Car keys in the other hand because I couldn’t reach my rucksack and let go of Ava, oh, and a wobbling baby in an oversized carrier- are you picturing this? It’s like I was trying to give away the fact that I was a new Mum- I certainly looked like I had no idea what I was doing, and to be fair, I didn’t on this day- this carrier issue completely ruined my flow!
When I eventually met up with my friend, I was flustered to say the least. We went to my favourite shop H&M (other high street stores are well respected and available!) and usually I would be totally in my element, plus there was a sale on! But I was anything but excited or even bothered. I knew I was in a shop; I knew there were clothes but I couldn’t see anything. I was so preoccupied with focusing on Ava and checking on her every two minutes that I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. I was looking but couldn’t see. Everything was a complete blur. Every shop we went in I couldn’t see for looking. The room could have been spinning for all I knew as an array of colours and styles flashed before my eyes. But even as I attempted to select items of clothing- you know as we girls do, picking up an item then placing it against the front of our body to see if we like it! I just couldn’t concentrate or even contemplate buying anything. I lost all interest and quite frankly wanted to escape; get Ava out of the carrier and in the pram which I could now picture in the boot of my car, practically laughing at me right now- you should have put the baby in me instead of the carrier!- now some of you think I’m hearing voices in my head!
I explained how I was feeling to my friend as she too was juggling a pram and a toddler. She could completely understand- she’d been there. We laughed about how I could write about this. But the more I thought about it I pondered on this very thought, how often do we look but don’t really see? Often looking with blinkers or see only what’s on the surface.
This is why I use stories to teach the people: They see, but they don’t really see.
I questioned myself and considered how on many occasion I breeze through life but don’t really take things in. This couldn’t be more apparent at the moment as I embrace mother hood. I want to enjoy every minute with Ava. Time is passing by so quickly and she is changing by the hour. I consciously take the time to just stare into my daughter’s beautiful blue eyes- they’re encapsulating! Her radiant baby skin and the way her face and body have their own unique curves and formations; her smile (often wind though at this stage) and succession of facial expressions she breaks into. She is the one I can honestly say I actually look at and see.
You may think this sounds odd. But when I ask you, as I did myself, these questions, you’ll hopefully see what I mean.
How often do we visit beautiful places with stunning scenery; walk past beautiful flowers, visit outstanding places of natural wonder and yet don’t take it all in? We don’t really appreciate this beautiful world God intentionally created. If you were to study a flower, you would see their intricate detail and design- yet so often we take Gods beautiful creation for granted.
Do you look at the single Mum but don’t really see what she’s going through? She’s smiling and on the surface appears like she has it all together, yet inside she’s crying out for help- feeling at breaking point and just hoping someone will notice and see past this facade she’s trying to keep up.
Do you glance over at the homeless person on the street but don’t really see their situation? You throw your spare change in their cup, maybe say hello. They wearily lift their head up to say thanks, shivering and starving with hunger beyond description, exhausted and in physical and emotional pain from their circumstances which led them to where they are now. Yet on the surface they will play down how little they actually need, not wanting to cause a fuss and somehow justifying why they deserve where they area and the situation they’re in.
You ask someone how they’re doing but don’t really listen- you just nod your head and murmur a knee jerk response. I once slipped up and asked someone how they were- yet I was so consumed by what was going on in my own life that without even really listening to their response, I replied with, ‘oh good! Lovely to see you!’ That person was struggling and had just encountered trouble in the workplace making them seriously unhappy. I was looking but wasn’t really seeing. How often do we ask people how they are and they say ‘good thanks’. They don’t want to cause a fuss and so on the surface they look like they’ve got it all together but really they’re crumbling on the inside, crying out for help or for someone to notice.
I would hope that when I ask Ava how she is, how her days been- that I will make the time to actually listen and take in what she’s telling me. To not be so distracted that I miss something she says that is a cry out for help or even tells me how excited she is about something. I don’t want what I say to just be words or empty actions, but words with intent, meaning. Actions with impact, consistency and desire to follow through.
I wonder if you will take the time to slow down, to not just look, but really see. To look past the façade and see what’s going on. So often we hear in the news of many suicide cases where no one had any idea they were so low or contemplating their own life. So often we think someone’s got it all together- they’re confident and always the joker, yet it’s a façade and we don’t know of the dark depression they’re struggling with.
Often sometimes it’s even the people closest to us; family, friends, who we can so easily miss the signs that they’re hurting, struggling, just having a bad day or even when they’ve got something really exciting to share. We miss them and often just assume that because they’re family/close friends and you know them so well that everything’s ok- and you would know if it wasn’t. But would you? Would you really see?
I challenge myself to not only look but endeavour to see. To see beyond the surface. To act with intent and follow through with what I promise rather than know all the information but have empty actions, empty promises. What about you?
Matthew 5:33-37 (MSG)
“And don’t say anything you don’t mean. This counsel is embedded deep in our traditions. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.