Can we antidote Anxiety and create happiness?

Is everyone faking happiness? Are we all just papering over our anxiety with positivity. Perhaps that’s the answer, reality is what we believe it to be. I am a writer. I just told you I am so I must be. So what have you published, you ask, erm, this blog. So we need facts. I am a mother. That is a fact. I have a wonky vagina and 2 actual live people to prove it. I must just say, I think I’ve done a pretty good job so far. Considering I’ve had no real previous experience nor an actual mother myself. I did have a partially functioning one for about 3 years but she evolved to her higher self (a phrase used to feign -or create- happiness) and abandoned her cancer riddled body and 3 ugly ducklings to the care of my anxiety-riddled father. Boy, that was a fun childhood. Enough backstory, another indisputable fact of life; No one actually cares about your sad life story. It’s just entertaining for a few minutes, people get bored of using it to excuse your bad behaviour. Don’t look back, except to see how far you’ve come. More happy speak.

I am that odd mom out. I don’t even say mum. I try but my kids even call me mom. So here I am, a mom in a world of mums. I pretend my outsider status is derived from being a South African living in London, but honestly that works better for me because I really don’t fit in with South Africans either.

Be yourself, and if you can’t be yourself, be a unicorn!

Thats the worse bloody advice ever given to a tween girl. By 11 years old most garden variety little girls know exactly what they enjoy and as they are blossoming into womanhood, society prunes them back or declares them weeds and rips them out.Perhaps it would be useful to differentiate between society and community. In his book Sapiens, Yuval Harari  believes that humans are social animals and are dependant on being part of a community to survive and ensure happiness. Being part of a community seems to be the primary source of our sense of security and not fitting in possibly the greatest angst! So don’t be yourself, be just like everyone else and you’ll have someone to sit with at lunch. Is that the root of social anxiety? The fear of being alone. Do we intrinsically know that we cannot survive without being part of the pack? So how can we paper over that anxiety and find happiness?  We make shit up and convince yourself that it’s real and if you believe it, other people will too. Seriously, charismatic religious leaders and politicians have been doing it for millennia.

So here it is, my first blog. Trying to make sense of it, or just capture some of those butterfly thoughts in a word net. I’d like to find an anecdote to illustrate my musings. So I suppose that my blog goals. In truth I’m only publishing this because I can’t find the frikken save button.




Can you love your kids too much?

I always knew that I wanted to be a mother. Growing up with out one, I had the luxury of a fantasy mom. I had mentally collaged  the best bits from friends and fictional mothers to create what I wanted to have; at some point I must have realised that was never going to happen so I had to become what I never had. I’m often embarrassed to admit that I’m a stay home mom, as if that is not a real ambition.  What I’ve realised, now that both kids are in secondary school, is that full time mothering is a terminal career. To succeed is to let go. The end result is a fully functioning adult , who you never stop worrying about but the skill is trusting your kids to look after themselves and be the best they can.

Can we love our kids too much ? ‘All you need is love..’ That’s what I would sing to babies while I sat propped up against the bath watching my 2yo in the milky water catching undissolved blobs of aqueous cream with measuring cups, while breast feeding my son. Some days I was so demented with exhaustion and volatile with frustration, I wish someone had added to the lyrics ‘all you need is love, AND discipline.

In Latin, discipline means to teach. Not punish. Is that not our role; to teach our children? Teach them to be fully functioning descent human beings. So we start at the very beginning, with simple feeding and sleeping routines. At primary school age, kids form good habits and learn to get themselves organised through repeated actions. With teenagers the structure and routine at home is even more critical as their internal worlds are chaotic and they spend their days with adult sized peers in state of disorder. Teenagers are on a roller coaster and parents have to be the firm seat belt that holds them.

The most important and most difficult element of loving your children is letting them fall. Helicopter parents are constantly hovering and over parenting. This is something I’m acutely aware of in myself. I excuse myself by saying I had abandonment issues; but hey, I tell myself “The past like a cloud, it’s there but let it blow over, we are here, safe on the ground, let that damn cloud blow away.” So whatever you’re reason for overprotecting or over controlling your kids lives. Stop. Look at it. Let it go.

Do you love your child too much? I don’t believe you can love too much love is infinite it is unconditional. Now, ask yourself can you give them too much attention? Think about why you hover, were you neglected and need to remedy the deficiencies of your own upbringing. Peer pressure from other parents, I always feel guilty when other kids less talented/smart etc get prizes or places on sports teams because of pushy parents. I could write a whole book on pushy parents and the entitled kids that they produce !

It’s really hard to resist over involvement when you see other kids receiving advantages but step away. Helicopter parenting always backfires! Kids are less confident and have lower self esteem- by hovering we are saying “You can’t do it.” Kids need disappointment and failure to learn coping skills, if we protect from this they can become anxious and depressed. When life skills are age appropriate, kids need to master them.

You can’t love too much. In letting them go, while gently watching them grow and being present if and when life does disappoint or hurt them. Be there, but gently encourage them to learn and to grow. That is love.