Because I need to call the Waaaahmbulance.
Ow! My arm.
What did I do last night? Bruised knees – part of dancing on a wooden stage. Slight pull in one calf – from when my tap shoes skidded on the shaving cream residue still on the floor from the previous performance. Crunkly eyelashes – from multiple coats of mascara… but I could not remember doing a one armed cartwheel/ I don’t even know what to call that trick, not in my repertoire… I could not remember a drunk person falling on me… I could not remember lifting anything particularly cumbersome or heavy.
What did I do last night?
Oh wait! What did I do yesterday lunchtime?
I’m a 40 year old cheerleader with a 12kg child.
A 12kg child who woke up precisely 4 minutes before our squad was due to appear at a festival, and was too much in need of mummy cuddles to be interested in any other potential care giver.
So there we were, at a community event, running a community workshop, with me as the one who was leading the big group warm up dance.
So I just did it. With my toddler on my hip, held there with my left arm.
4:11 of medium intensity cardio, Baby sitting on one pom-pom as I waved the other about with double enthusiasm for balance… I noticed the extra weight as we did 1,2,3 jump, and during the side traveling rock-stomp around in the circle; but mainly I was balancing my focus between teaching the basic moves and checking Baby’s welfare – was her head not bobbing around too much, was that security biscuit she needed to hold not choking her…
As you do.
Etc etc – it all went along – at some point she was happy to hop down and I noticed the great relief of no longer holding her in one arm.
Performance/workshop over, time to sit and feed snacks to Baby before heading home to get ready for cabaret tech run.
Blah blah blah, amazing night of women’s performance, happy juices flowing as I feel at peace with my need to share absurd dance comedy with unsuspecting audiences.
Home, sleep, sun comes up.
Ow! My arm.
Knowing that tiredness and pain are both things that can be a source of grumpiness, I pledge to go gently while my arm heals.
Times of exertion call for times of replenishment, and I’m ok with the ratio changing as I gather birthdays behind me.
Recovery time may be longer, but if I settle into that truth as a beautiful truth, leaning into rather than resisting it; then I can enjoy some slow days with less expectations on myself.
Let the floor stay unswept for today, have a storybook marathon in the teepee, model self-kindness and patience with the process of healing.
Because if I try and operate as though I’m not tired and hurting, yes, I can get the things done, but I get cranky and snappy. And that’s not the tone I want our family to have.
So I come back to myself.
What do I need right now to be the best mum I can be with what I have in this moment?
Caregiver state of mind is everything.
As my mum’s beautiful teacher Lama Yeshe said: “May I be gentle with myself. For only then can I be gentle with others.”
And gentle is what my kids need from me.
It is a secret strength that I am working on. Slowly, and with patience!