What's the bright side here? Motherhood unfiltered.

Sunday, 11 November 2018

I performed in the First National Tour of “Monty Python’s Spamalot” twelve years ago (pretty much another lifetime).  I enjoyed 14 months of touring the country with friends that became family - Spamily. I have too many favorite moments from this show that made me belly-laugh every single time I performed it. One song pops into my head on a regular basis, “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”. It opens with a downtrodden King Arthur who receives a pep talk from Patsy, his coconut-clapping sidekick. “Always look on the bright side of life. Always look on the light side of life.”

 

My husband and I both adore the wisdom of Monty Python. It’s one of the reasons we’re so compatible, laughter is medicine. Always look on the bright side, or the light side, of life.  Here’s the perspective shift. You can choose to look at the dark, messy side or blink and breathe and see the light side. The bright side might not be too shiny or even there just yet, but it’s like a little seed, under the surface. 

 

As a mother of four with two-year-old twins, I’m in one of the messiest, more chaotic seasons of my life.  Many of my days feel like I’m being repeatedly slapped in the face with a fish. (Python fans know.) I have plenty of moments that start to drag me down. I do not push these feelings aside saying they’re not valid.  They are.  I feel what I need to, just sitting with the ick and letting it be.  I cry, complain and cry some more when I need to. Some days are harder than others and that’s ok. It’s part of life.

 

It’s what we do after we sit with the sh*t for a minute that’s the difference maker. Even when I’m in the thick of it, it has become helpful practice for me to look on the bright side. This perspective shift has helped me feel lighter, react less and remember, there’s always a way through. It’s not a clear, direct path, but with a gentle approach, lead by love, I’m reminded that life has more good than bad. The tantrums pass, the emotional storms move along and the fog clears.

 

Take the image at the top of this post, with the leftover Halloween candy and pumpkins, the clutter of a family of six who has the bare minimum organized, let alone coordinated for social media acceptability. This is unfiltered mom-life. I’m holding one twin who just vomited on me for the 3rd time that day. (Unbeknownst to me, there were 3 more rounds on the way.) I was holding George while we all sat and ate dinner. He didn’t have an appetite of course and it was too early to put him to bed for the night. As we’re all eating at the table he spews, on the floor, and me. So, I slid my chair back, moved my dish to his high chair, and finished my dinner. NBD. I was amazed by my lack of reaction to sitting in vomit while eating dinner, but I guess this is one of the superpowers I’ve acquired as a mother. I have zero expectations for anything to go as planned. I have an incredible tolerance for the messy chaos that accompanies 4 children. Especially when you become un-phased by bodily fluids. It’s a gift. That’s what I’m telling myself.

 

So, the bright side here?  What’s that happy, whistley tune to accompany sitting in your child’s vomit? My family was all together, “enjoying” a meal, Dean Martin was playing, I have a great washer and dryer that has been working on overdrive with all the laundry (when you move to the suburbs from the city and don’t have to walk to the laundromat, a washer and dryer in-home is #winning!) and I get to comfort my children when they’re sick. I’m their safe place to rest, heal and feel loved. Daddy is too, of course, but for these two-year-olds, mom’s lap is where it’s at.

 

The mom-gig is the most demanding work I’ve ever done. It’s harder than learning a show in 2 weeks, performing 8x a week (or more at Radio City Music Hall).  It forces me to grow on all levels and demands more out of me than I ever expected. I’ll always be a hopeful optimist that chooses to see the bright side, because that is what helps me enjoy and appreciate more moments of this sacred work. Caring for and nurturing my kiddos keeps me on my toes even more than Broadway.

 

When things get a little dark, sit with it for a bit, feel what you need to, then try this practice to bring you some light.  Focus on the good bits, what you’ve got versus what you don’t have. This is a practice in motherhood-mindfulness. During pregnancy this looked like - "I can't run 3 miles right now, but I can help my body feel better with some yoga." During postpartum it looked like - "I'm awake every 2 hours through the night, but I get to feed my babies, with my body. How freaking amazing is that. And newborn snuggles, ummm, pure heaven on Earth." I had plenty of challenges to work through, but I never doubted myself.  I've become unapologetically optimistic.

 

“We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” -  Cynthia Ozick

 

As you smile and see the bright side, I'm sending deep breaths of gratitude (germ-free, please).

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