Taking Stock

More on the theme of Mindfulness, I’ve been thinking about what I’m going to call Slow Thinking. It takes a holiday, like the Easter break, or one beautiful Sunday sunning yourself in the back garden to make you realise the frenzy in which we conduct the rest of our lives. As mothers we are busy anyway with day to day chores, with the hands on care of children, applying ourselves to their physical needs, their emotional and mental development, their health and wellbeing, their happiness. (If you like you can read my poem under Pages – Poetry – Now). We can also get caught up in the whirl of social norms and pressures, we make decisions without always fully thinking them through. Does my child really have to do all those after school activities? Does my two and a half year old really have to get up and get out five days a week for two full years of preschool so that they don’t fall behind with their social development? As a full time mother I am not qualified to comment on the pressures of mothers who combine outside employment with caring for their children. But the heart rending choices about childcare, work-life balance, financial security versus quality time must have them in a spin.


This recession has come with a jolt and its making us take stock. Already there are new TV programmes about home making and interior design on a budget and the associated joys of crafts and other home made accomplishments. Those familiar with the craft group my sister Sharon O’ Kelly organises have experienced the satisfaction of taking home a personal handmade object (and have discovered the joy of Mindfullness in the process of make and do!). Cottage industries, cottage gardens and allotments are in vogue and charity shop chic has never been so in fashion. (Finally the town of Bray, Co. Wicklow has found its true calling! It is the capital of second hand shops in Ireland, boasting at least nine at last count.)


The catch phrase of today is no longer ‘I must have’ but ‘do I really need?’ Houses and apartments are no longer being thrown up at a frenetic rate. Excesses are being reined in. There is a general slowing down in the economy and in society and we can match that in our personal lives, taking the time to make decisions, waiting for the right moment where the way forward isn’t obvious instead of blundering along in a panic. Our parents and our grandparents knew that things would come in time, that anticipation was some of the fun. We need to re-educate ourselves to feel the truth of this and help our children enjoy what they’ve got, a precious little at a time.

Now is all there is

Hello.  Today you can just see the top of my head over the waves. Recently I edited a newsletter for parents on Mindfulness and Wellbeing. We wanted to explore how parents in the maelstrom (or sea, to keep to the blog’s theme) of raising children could possibly find the space in time or within themselves to re-energise and take stock of their circumstances. As a writer (I was going to say would-be writer, but here I am)  and mother of four young children, aged between 8 and 18 months I want to share with you whether or not it is possible to get your ‘Head above Water’ and find that moment of what Buddist’s call concentrated awareness, the now that has depth,  slows time and gives it greater quality.

My baby gives his absolute attention to the texture of a pebbledash wall. I feed off his fascination. As a writer I need to pay attention, to notice. As a full time mother I am prey to the constant demands of requests and chores, the hands on care of small bodies and the fuelling of expansive minds.  I cannot find a quiet place in my head or imagination. Friends in the parent support group (Cuidiu) in the early days of total immersion caring for a newborn alongside their other young children have experienced it as a kind of drowning.

Today all four children were at home on their school holidays. Two had very bad colds, the four year old in particular was constantly in crises and tears from sheer exhaustion. The two older boys were in a hyperactive frenzy usually directed towards each other.  While I checked my email this morning I distracted the baby with my paper clip container, while writing this tonight I have been treated to the sound of my eight year old whistling and have answered several calls for assistance. Is there still an identifiable train to my thoughts? You decide.

There are many reasons these days why people’s head are ‘wrecked’. It’s the fashion to be on the go, to be getting somewhere. To squeeze the last out of the analogy, sometimes we are wasting our energy swimming against the tide. (Groan, okay, I’ll be more inventive next time). In this blog I’ll be looking at how we can get our heads above water and maybe even spend sometime sunning ourselves on a some well-placed rock in a more gently flowing river.  And then I might even talk about writing as well.