Alexandra Hughes

Coaching Mothers to a Place of

calm & joyful living

Receive 3 simple strategies to joyful calm

photo credit: protoflux

Toothfairy F&*^-Up

Ok, so Mr. 7 lost his tooth yesterday which he was super excited about.

Sure, I was happy for him but hey, he’s number two and I’ve kind of gotten over the tooth fairy thing as my daughters almost lost all her teeth now.

Plus I was distracted by a couple of other things…lingering thoughts about my husband’s two week work trip, a few workshops and retreats that were coming up – two of which I’d managed to double book. Suffice it to say, my mind was elsewhere.

And Mr. 7 is a fairly quiet boy who simply trusts that the Universe will do as it should, so he didn’t make too much of a fuss about the toothfairy. He simply popped his tooth in the little orange plastic treasure chest the school had given him, slipped them under his pillow and quietly (more than usual), went to bed.

I.e., NO REMINDER FOR ME.

I hardly ever work in the evenings, but needed to finish up on some admin tasks for the biz, so again, with my focus elsewhere, I spent that evening at my kitchen desk sortying stuff out.

And then, off to bed I went – later and slightly more tired than usual.

 

And the sun rose.

Well, guess what?

The toothfairy didn’t make it!!

This is the ultimate self-induced guilt-trip moment! When your 7 year old wakes with a stretch, only to leap upon his pillow and check with bright anticipation for his very first tooth fairy money.

“Mom,”, he said quietly (and sadly) as I scrimmaged to get his clothing out of his drawers. “Mom, she didn’t come?”

“Who, honey?” said a distracted Mom surviving day 2 of her single motherhood.

“The tooth…”

And he didn’t have to finish the sentence.

I was in QUICK SAVE mode.

“Are you sure, honey?” I yelled back at him as I fled down the stairs to find my wallet. Where was my bloody wallet?!

Bloody tooth fairy.

“Yes”, he said still a bit hazy but clearly extremely disappointed and confused.

I scrummaged through my wallet secretly and as quietly as possible in the next room. Two dollars should do.

“Ok”, I whispered to myself confidently. I can do this. I can save this.

“Ok. Let’s look properly.”

Genius struck.

“She may have gotten confused since you sometimes sleep with your head at one end, and other nights at another”. This is a one of his truisms.

“But first I think you should check inside the pillowcase VERY carefully. Sometimes she’s a bit tricky like that.”

So, you guessed it…while he was very carefully looking for his tooth treasure, I slipped my two dollars under Baxter, his basset hound stuffed puppet. Phew.

“It’s not here, Mom”. He said.

“Ok, no worries hun. Now why don’t you have a look at this end of the bed since sometimes you sleep with your head over here.

“Ok, he said obediently. I could feel his hope levels rising again.

I sighed.

“No, Mom, it’s not here.”

“WHAT?!” I mean, “what, darling?”

He is a notoriously bad finder (a genetic trait from his father’s side).

“Let me help you.” I rummaged.

“Look, it’s under Baxter”, I said.

“Oh!!” he said with delight. He looked at the money, counted the bills. Looked under Baxter again. “Two dollars…”, he sighed.

And I’m not sure if at this point the guilt inside me was speaking or if his sigh was actually one of disappointment .

What’s two dollars these days? I said to myself. Life is expensive. It’s his first tooth, for God’s sake. Come on Alex.

And so, I rushed back to my wallet in the other room, dished out 4 quarters and another dollar bill. Four dollars – that’s more with the times, I thought.

Content enough, he was checking his treasure chest to see if that nasty little Tooth Fairy had taken his tooth, or not.

“She didn’t take my tooth”, he said.

“Oh, she doesn’t always do that anymore”, I said. “She hasn’t taken Mia’s last four or five teeth, I don’t think.” I said allowing the guilt to begin to take me over with the recognition that I had forgotten to provide financial support to the toothfairy for my daughter – now 10 – and her last 4 or 5 teeth. Bad Mom!

And as he closed his little treasure chest, I choved the additional two dollars inside Baxter’s puppet pouch.

“Hey!” I said enthusiastically, “Check this out! There’s more money INSIDE Baxter”.

“Really!!” Now he was excited. “More money?” And he jumped onto Baxter to find his second tranche of money.

“Four dollars!!”

He was excited.

I breathed a sigh of relief.

Mission accomplished.

 

“MIA!!! I got four dollars from the tooth fairy!!” he called out as he ran out of the room.

She was gracious, considering how neglected her last tooth losses had been.

I think she’s sort of figured out that forgetful Mom and the toothfairy don’t always work in synchronicity.

I can live with that. I’ll get her an ice-cream tomorrow.

Oriol's tooth

photo credit: elizaIO

A mother’s hard heart

Today my heart is hard.

My child cries and I do not hear him.

He doesn’t want to go to school and I don’t care.

He has to go.

I need space.

I am tired.

My heart is hard.

“Please”, he cries.

“I’m sorry you feel this way. You are going…”

My voice is dry.

And I drum up reasons in my head.

He latches onto me.

I push him away.

I know what he needs.

He needs me.

I don’t care.

My heart is hard.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t need that space.

Sometimes I wish I didn’t need to work.

But I do.

I wish I was a better Mom.

But I am not.

I hear my voice silently say:

“I was not made for this.

It is never enough.

They are draining me dry.

It shouldn’t be this way.”

And the tears come.

And my heart softens.

And I hold him near me.

“It will be ok”, comes the whisper.

 

I wrote this poem on a day when my youngest did not want to go to pre-school. It was a day when I was especially tired, when I hadn’t slept. And it was a time when I wasn’t’ really taking care of myself.

It is a difficult poem for me to read – the memory of my not listening, the image of me pushing him away. So little, so needing. Now he is a big 4 year old. He goes to school full days, and I won’t get those half-days back.

But after a lot of internal work, I know and accept that moment.

I have come to learn and forgive myself.

I have come to learn that all mothers all go through “hard heart” days because we are all human.

Being a mother is hard. Being a mother can make the heart hard. It often feels like heart-hardening work. I know, I’ve been there.

The poem is an invitation to recognize a shared experience, forgive yourself for having that hard heart sometimes, and for taking the time to take care of you. Because loving you will ultimately help you to keep that heart soft.

photo credit: elizaIO

photo credit: elizaIO

photo credit: caroline gagné

Top 3 reasons why loving yourSELF equates to loving your loved ones

I know…

You’ve heard it all before (not least of which from me, who went on my own self-love rant last Sunday).

But this is REALLY IMPORTANT stuff.

Just a few days ago, I met a Mom with two kids in their twenties.

A common friend was sitting with her. She remarked: “She is a testament to getting through it all, looking great!” (And she did look great.)

And she shared her secret in only four words.

“Take care of you”, she said.

So simple.

She went on…

“Because if you don’t take care of you, they just feel like little buckets of germs all the time and you really don’t want to be around them, do you?”

Again. More wise words.

So, take it from an experienced Mom, loving you is the non-negotiable basics of motherhood.

Motherhood 101.

Put the oxygen mask on you first.

Stop with the excuses and practice a bit of self-love to yours truly.

Here are the Top 3 reasons why loving yourSELF equates to loving your loved ones.

 

1/ Loving you makes you kinder.

You know that blissful, enlightened feeling after the walk in the woods, the yoga class, meditation session or long hot bubble bath? That feeling of blissful calm and relaxation. That profound knowledge that all is good in your world.

It is a moment of self-love. Your heart is open. Your mind is calm. Love surrounds you.

It is that moment if, when approached by a child and asked for a large sum of money, or a sugar-filled teeth rotten candy, you will give in because your heart is wide open and hey, all is good.

What is happening here? Well, basically, self-care is making you kinder.

And guess what, if you do it regularly, you will notice a calmer kinder you.

This does not mean that you won’t be triggered, because you will.

This does not mean you won’t regret giving them the $50 or week long supply of rainbow sugar fizz, because you may.

It does mean you are practising self-care and triggering love hormones. It means you are allowing kindness (versus rightness) to lead the way sometimes. Perhaps a little more often.

 

2/ Loving you is a great model.

You will have heard me say “monkey see, monkey do.” And I will say it again.

I am a firm believer that children learn best by copying their role models. After all, for good or for bad, without work to the contrary, would you not have naturally turned out much like your Mom?

And of all the important life lessons you want to teach your kids, isn’t self-love one of the most important ones. Isn’t loving oneself the foundation to self-defined success and happiness?

Mothers today go to dire lengths to teach and support our children to eat healthy foods, exercise regularly, have appropriate screen diets, make quality friendships. But do we teach them to love and trust themselves?

Well, if teaching self-love is important and modelling is the most effective way to learn, then guess what? It’s time for you to go do that thing that feeds your soul and leaves you feeling blissful, Mom. And don’t forget to rave about how important it is and how

good taking care of you feels.

3/ Loving you makes you  live longer.

It’s no surprise that basic self-care – a good diet and regular exercise will help you live healthier, longer. But new research is now proving that relaxation and positive thinking can do the same.

Disheartened with conventional medicine, Lisa Rankin, MD, began a search for evidence of a clear physiological mechanism to explain how positive thoughts and emotions might translate into cure for the body.

Lisa has written a book called Mind Over Medicine explaining the science behind how a positive or negative thought or emotion in the mind translates into spontaneous repair in the body. Her studies have found that the body has built in self-repair mechanisms that fix damaged proteins, repair DNA, correct hormonal imbalances, and gobble up cancer cells, infectious agents, and foreign bodies that our bodies are exposed to everyday. However, the body can only repair itself when the body is in a state of physiological rest. Whenever the body experiences stress, it shuts down self-repair.

So, if a longer happier life appeals to you, go take that hot bubbly bath and begin planning a long fun journey into grandmotherhood!

Oh, and don’t forget about my Mom-loving workshop scheduled for 12:30 on Sunday February 22nd at Simon Says Yoga. It’s called Tending the Flames: A workshop for mothers in mid-winter, and is for Moms feeling the drain of winter, and ready to revitalise themselves with a bit of yoga, mindfulness and coaching. Come join the wonderful Jen Campbell-Munn and myself for a couple hours of self-LOVIN’

 

photo credit: caroline gagné

photo credit: caroline gagné


photo credit: Quinn Dombrowski

What Mom’s have been doing wrong on Valentine’s day

Valentine’s Day.

Love it or hate it, it always comes along.

For me it’s one of those days (like New Years) full of anticipation and sort of set-up to disappoint.

He sort of always gets it wrong.

At first he rejected it completely as it is not an occasion that connects in any way with the rational side of my brain, which sort of rejects it as well.

Then, he started trying.

Then, he started REALLY trying.

Poor guy.

He’s gotten close, but never quite gotten it right.

 

So, a few times I decided to take the lead. (I am, after all, the woman who sends him ISBN codes as ‘hints’ for Christmas and Birthday gifts.)

But somehow that didn’t work either.

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photo credit: Andrew Sutherland

Serenity cure to 6 not-so-sexy stressors

When I arrived in D.C. I started (as mothers do), to talk to other mothers.

I was checking out the new terrain.

Some seemed happy enough. Others were desperate to leave.

ALL agreed that the city was intense. Very intense.

Stress levels were high, here. It was expensive and the pace of life was unforgiving.

 

My researcher side came to life and I decided to look into this…

So I set up a few focus group discussions and carried out some one-on-one interviews.

I wanted to learn more about D.C. mothers’ experiences of stress.

I discovered 6 major STRESSORS in the lives of mothers, here:

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