As I start to write this blog post there is 1 hour left to go until the end of term and the start of the summer break.
Mainly, I am feeling very happy about this. A month ago I had various plans for what I “needed” to get done before the end of term. A month of healthy eating, going for regular runs, a tidy clean house, paperwork done and filed, shelves put up, that kind of thing. I haven’t done any of it. And I don’t care right now. It’s no better than usual, but it’s no worse either (there’s a pile of washing to put away, a pile of washing up to do downstairs, a duvet that needs changing on the floor in my room, piles of things waiting to be sorted out and put away around the house, a bunch of toys that have been strewn around the living room for two days).
Right now I’m looking for a week or so of pootering, of low key stuff, of mooching about and generally letting the kids wind down and be themselves. The end of term assemblies and disco’s and parties and dress up as rainforest animal days are finished. I’ve succumbed to peer pressure and bought some last minute thank you gifts for teachers.
I’m looking forward to not having to get everyone out of the house before 9am, of leaving distracted children to be distracted in the morning instead of cajoling them into getting dressed and eating their breakfast. Of letting my son read two books end to end in his pajama’s before breakfast. And hubby wont have to help with all the morning stuff, so he can go into work ealier, do his flexi time and come home earlier too, or build up his hours and take a day off.
Last summer holidays started immediately with a weekend away at a festival and instead of coming back we went on a roadtrip to deliver my mums old car to my neice on the other side of the country – staying off a couple of places en route and then staying with my brother for a week. A great idea in theory, in practice we took an overtired boy away and he struggled to settle in strange places and wouldn’t sleep in the car either (for fear of missing something was my best guess) – my overriding memory of that “holiday” is him screaming. A lot.
This time round we have 2 unstructured days to start with. Next week the plan is leisurely starts, swimming lessons each day at 11, lunches at home and afternoons to mooch or meet friends in the park. Then hopefully we’ll all be a bit recovered from term time before we go away as a family for a week – a week which includes a children’s programme so some grown up time for us too. Then another week of morning swimming lessons and days meeting up with friends or mooching at home. Then a week of camping as a family ending in a festival weekend. And then the last week and a bit I have no plans, so maybe we can go on some adventures together (I’m hoping the weather won’t be so hot by then).
Of course, it won’t all be easy. There will be bored children and bickering and being in each others company too much as well. And there will be much less interrupted being on the computer time for me and going to a cafe for a quiet coffee (one of my vices) will be right out. The option of preparing dinner and doing housework and shopping whilst they’re not around won’t be available either.
I am a bit concerned about how I’m going to get the “me time” in. I gorged on a whole 2 days of it recently and I have plans for the weekend, but in between?
So, let me tell you about my Monday morning this week – it’ll make sense in a moment, bear with me. I went to the dentist to have root canal treatment on a tooth. I’m not particularly distressed by dentists (although needing to go when I was really anxious last year was hard at the time, finding a dentist, ringing up, explaining why I hadn’t been in ages, that was quite stressful at the time) but that kind of thing isn’t anyone’s cup of tea. I had had the same treatment done on an adjacent tooth a few weeks earlier. The first lot of work went something like this: turn up, listen politely to dentist, stick headphones in, close eyes, listen to music, try to ignore what’s going on, remember to breath, try not to gag on the horrible green rubber thing he has stuck in my mouth, breath some more, concentrate on the music, gosh this is taking AGES. Then afterwards try an X-ray whilst my mouth is still anesthetised and discover that it’s still horrid and uncomfy and makes me gag.
So this Monday, after a frantic effort to get the kids to school, I made my way to the dentist. Just around the corner with 5 mins before my appointment I realise that I don’t have my mp3 player with me. How am I going to manage this? No time to go back. I consider ringing hubby and ask him to cycle home from work, pick it up and deliver it in time for the last hour and dismiss this thought. I’m just going to have to try and go through with it.
I go into reception, tell them I’m there and sit down. In my bag is a book I picked up the day before that the Buddhist monk had brought with him. I read a couple of paragraphs. Then it’s time to go in. I decide to try mindfulness – what have I got to loose (in a sense, lying in the dentists chair is a bit like being a prisoner). I explain to the dentist I’ve forgotten my music, never mind he says, you’ll be fine and I think, yes, yes I will.
Instructed to breath through my nose, this time instead of thinking out breathing through my nose and taking long slow breaths, I think of the monks instruction the day before, to feel your belly, soft, moving in and out, and concentrate 50% on that and 50% on his voice. So I try to concentrate 50% on my belly being soft and going in and out and 50% on what is going on. It’s a subtle shift. I close my eyes for the injection, but after a while decide to open them and find it’s ok to watch whilst I breathe. I feel much more aware of what is going on than before, and yet I’m also relaxed. The green rubber doesn’t make me feel like I’m choking this time, my tongue starts to complain that it feels trapped and I concentrate on my belly without ignoring it and it subsides. There is less saliva in my mouth. I know what is going on. It doesn’t seem to take so long. Several times I feel myself drifting of to sleep. Drifting off to sleep during root canal work?! Later I realise I’m actually enjoying myself. Enjoying root canal work?! Afterwards the dentists tries an x ray, he gets the small plates that he’s had to use before to have any chance of success with me and asks if he can put it in my mouth (I had to do that before). I concentrate 50% on the rise and fall of my belly. It goes in ok, I bite down and don’t gag – although I have to concentrate on concentrating on my breathing in the right way. He asks if he can try the normal plates instead. So we do that. And it works. I have an X-ray taken with normal plates and don’t gag.
I am amazed at the difference a subtle shift in attitude can make. How much difference could this make to other area’s of my life? I am determined to keep it up, but also unsure how to start, how to do regularly practice without forgetting or being overoptimistic and giving up.
So last night, I looked up his monastry website and found a link to a list of free publications, including the four he brought to the meeting I was at (there was only one left by the time I got to the table). Most of them are downloadable.
One of them struck me as useful,