Where have I been?

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Hi it’s me : She Makes Moments.

6 months is a long time huh? So where have I been? If I said I’d been changing my life that would probably sound a bit sensationalist wouldn’t it? ¬†But, it’s the truth.

In April, I found out I was being made redundant from my teaching job. This was the second time this had happened and for me the final straw between me and teaching so I decided after 14 years to retire my whiteboard pens and walk away from my career, the only work I had known.

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You see, I had already been training with @digtitalmums to become a Freelance Social Media Manager and although I may not have chosen to forge my new career path so soon it seemed that everything was pointing that way.

So, in September I set up Louise Upchurch Social and am now working as a Social Media Manager and Consultant. If you are in need of any help in these areas don’t hesitate to contact me!

Oh and the other life changing thing? A second pregnancy, bump is due in February and we recently discovered we are Team Pink.

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My aim to get my blog back up and running and re-connect. Turns out She Make Moments was a real indicator of things to come.

So how are you and what has been going on with you in the last 6 months?

For all those that encourage, uplift and remind us who we are

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There are times when we all feel a little flat, times when we lose sight of our place in the world. It may be due to our current circumstances or just being stuck in a thought or a mindset that lingers for longer than we ever intended it to.

During those times, the times when we are less of ourselves, when we have less to offer the world and we feel lost is when we need the uplifters, the encouragers, the friends who will remind us of who we are and who will love us even when we don’t love ourselves.

This post is about those people, this post is for those people.

Dear you,

Thank you! Yes you! I don’t say it enough and I haven’t said it enough and for that I apologise because I am sure there are times when you also feel you are not enough or that you don’t have much to offer. I want you to know that you make a huge difference.

Your text, tweet, whatsapp that you send when you are half asleep on your way to work or when you have been awake all night with your baby or when you collapse on the sofa after ‘one of those days’ means the world. That small act of connection, reminds me that I am not alone, that I matter, that I am part of something bigger than myself.

The email you write when you don’t even know what you really need to say. The fact that you still send it, that you take time out of all that is happening for you because you just know, it makes my life all the brighter.

The words of encouragement you find to give out even when you are at the end of yourself. The commitment you show to ‘doing life’ with me, 24/7, at all times, through all seasons in all circumstances. The fact you show up, turn, up speak up, it amazes me.

The unconditional love you show in spite of my ability to be flaky, or quiet, or withdraw. The fact that ultimately who I am is more important to you than what I do, nourishes me.

Thank you. Thank you for not giving up on me even when I give up on myself. Thank you for being who you are and being consistent and caring and loving and encouraging and helping me to grow.

You will never know how amazing you are and how much those little things matter. I have tried to explain it in these few paragraphs but it doesn’t even come close.

Thank you.

Love me x

How not to blog – why I won't follow the rules

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I have been doing a lot of thinking lately (dangerous I know!) about my blog and its purpose.

You see, I was challenged to begin it as a way of telling my story and stories online. It is if you like, my life played out.

I know that I should attempt to find a niche, a topic, a neat little box to fit into and by doing so I could use numerous techniques to develop a following. The things is, that’s not going to work.

I write my blog about my life and my life doesn’t fit into neat categories or a niche. I am a wife, a mother, a teacher ( maybe ex?), Christian, book lover, product reviewer and occasional ‘Ooh an opportunity to blog’ type of person.

This isn’t a Christian blog but I will discuss my faith, this isn’t a mummy blog but I will talk about motherhood and baby products, this isn’t a book review blog but I will review books, this isn’t an educational blog but I will talk about teaching, students, young people.

This is my blog, about me, showing how my life is a number of different facets and aspects of a whole. I write from the heart and want to be me.

You are very welcome to join me in my journey, join me as I turn the pages and play out my story, but I won’t fit neatly into a category and I would love to apologise for that but I can’t.

Ever had a 'should I have got out of bed?' day

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So today didn’t start well. Had a row with my husband before church and made him late for serving on PA ( am sure no one ele has ever done this, I realise I am a complete minority in this)

At this point, the day could have been a write off. Mainly due to my mind continually letting me know what a screw up I am and how I had ruined everything (my mind is a drama queen – anyone else’s?)

I managed to stop sobbing and text a few friends, telling them exactly what had happened and how I was.

I then partook in a bit of blowing raspberries therapy, which if you haven’t heard of it involves blowing raspberries at your small child to make them giggle. 15 minutes of this and I was semi normal again – enough to make it out of the front door and head to church.

I arrived and was happily greeted by a friend who chatted to me and gave me a hug. Got a bit teary again but then felt ok.

The thing is, the last place I wanted to go was church. I was feeling a bit broken and vulnerable and yet my natural reaction was to hide.

This is not a comment on my church or my church family. It is recognising the fact that there is something a little inherent in me, and I’m sure I’m not alone in this, that makes me feel I have to be perfect and smiley and raring to go on a Sunday and quite frankly that’s the biggest lie we can hold on to.

Jesus himself said he did not come for the righteous – so why do I aspire to be like that on a Sunday.

Church should be a place of refuge and yet today I was afraid of judgement of appearing a failure and that has nothing to do with anyone or anything said. It has to do with my own battle with perfection and owning up to the fact I struggle.

Right now, I don’t feel I am a good enough mother, wife, friend or family member. That’s my own journey and it’s ok for me to be on it, there isn’t a quick fix in all this.

I cancelled going to my son’s swimming lesson today ( Mum guilts kicked in big time) but some vindication came in the fact he napped for over 2hrs in the time we would have been. Sometimes, I really should trust my instincts and stop using the selfish word when I make these decisions.

Friends invited us for lunch, and I was nurtured and refreshed and offered a place of safety where I could be just as I am.

So, even though it was tough today, it was also important as I learned how to share those parts of myself that I would rather hide, I realised it’s not so bad saying it how it is and feel a little more confident in my messiness but still have a way to go – work in progress right?

Tonight is the church prayer
meeting and I am sat instead at home in my pyjamas. Another chance for my mind to tell me I have my priorities all wrong… at one point someone told me ‘Sometimes the most holy thing you can do is rest.’ and I am very good at saying this to other people but right now, I think I need to say it to myself, believe it and remember that there is no condemnation.

Things are all a bit messy

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So I am currently in limbo. There are a few things I was expecting to be resolved by today and they aren’t.

There are a few loose ends that remain untied, a few extra things yet to be ticked off the to-do list, an a couple of big unknowns.

Funny isn’t it, how the unknowns seem ok to begin with but then they creep up on you at the last minute ( 3am if you’re like me)

The fact is, things are all a bit messy and yet, in the midst of it all I find myself straying into a place of stillness and peace. Maybe it’s the eye of the storm? Maybe it’s a mirage? A created oasis in this desert place. But, when I find myself there, even though I can’t make sense of it, I am calm, at rest, my soul quietens.

I found that place at the end of my Zumba class on Wednesday, as we warmed down and the last song began my eyes were drawn to the wooden cross at the side of the stage. My Zumba class is held in a Salvation Army building.

It felt poignant so soon after Easter to find myself staring at an empty wooden cross and to be reminded of the ultimate sacrifice and then this song began…

I felt tears form and realised that I was having a moment, that something was calling deep into my heart. That this was a message for me.

You could write it all off as coincidence, I was just reading too much into it all but there in that moment I experienced God more closely than I had in a very long time and had a renenwed understanding of it all… The Cross, the love, His sacrifice, my response and although I have no idea how, I knew it is all going to be ok but at a cost.

At life group last night we sang the following words:

‘And no matter what the cost I will follow you. Jesus everything I’ve lost I have found in you…’

There’s a cost, a cost to all these loose ends, the unknowns and there has been loss but there is hope and right now I will hold on to that and to ‘My Salvation, my my’

Today I'm a mum and still in my pjs

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So, little man is 6 months and having a period of wakefulness at night.

The initial reaction is to Google and come up with 100 different explanations ranging from growth spurts to not following a sleep training method.

It can be a minefield and there are always plenty of smug ‘experts’ ready to tell you everything you are doing wrong and why you should buy into their particular methods.

Truth is, no-one knows the answer part from little man and he isn’t in a position to tell me.

I have developed my own coping mechanisms for these periods and they happen every so often.

At first, it was easy to beat myself up about it, to feel I had to put a brave face on it and just keep calm and carry on.

Before… I would have forced myself to get up, get dressed, face the world and even get a morning walk in to ensure little man napped. I was slightly crazed about just getting on.

Today… I posted in my secret mums group on Facebook about our shocker of an evening, whats app’d my post natal group and was hugely delighted to be presented with a cup of coffee by my husband before he left for work.

Instead of focussing on getting up and getting on, I sat on the bed with little man and played, enjoyed staying in my pyjamas and dressing gown. I can shower later – for now I just need to be.

I received plenty of words of encouragement from other mums who are experiencing similar and was spurred on by the knowledge that I am not alone!

I did the breakfast routine – weaning has begun. Mashed banana on toast – what a choice for a day when I’m living on coffee and prayer. It was fine, what are baby wipes for anyway?

Now, little man naps and I’m still in my pjs and you know what? I feel liberated. Liberated from the need to be up, showered, dressed out and facing the world.

I will be going out later but I’m not looking at the clock and fretting today.

Today, I am struggling to stay awake a little so I’m going to take my time. I’m not going to buy into questioning myself, or rushing to do everything.

I am leaving Google and forums alone.

Today, I’m a mum and I’m still in my pjs.

To all those suffering with 'mum guilts'

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To the mothers reading this, I want you to know that you don’t need to feel guilty.

We all do it to ourselves, we all allow those thoughts and feelings to build up and overwhelm us – usually at 2am and it leads to a restless night.

The ‘mum guilts’ I have named them. The I should have, shouldn’t have, could have etc…about any situation to do with our children.

Mine tend to focus around photos and momentos. I should have had casts made of his hands and feet. I should have started a memory scrapbook by now, I should have taken more photos.

I had a revelation this evening that all my ‘should haves’ have nothing to do with my son. None of those things are detrimental to him. They are about me and my needs.

What he needs from me is for me to focus on interacting and enjoying him. He doesn’t need a lens stuck in his face every five minutes. I have very few pictures of me as a child – it doesn’t make me feel deprived or affect my memories of my childhood. I don’t hold my parents accountable demanding why they didn’t take more photos!

I tie myself up in knots about it and I don’t know why I can’t be rational but I’m going to make more of an effort to try.

I get ‘mum guilts’ when he is awake too long and gets over tired, when he wakes in the night and I feel shattered in the morning and am grumpy, when I don’t live up to the expectations I have set myself as to what a mother should be.

I hesitate about going out to Zumba or for a meal if he is not settled before I go.

A week ago I went out to see a comedian and he cried for the first 45 minutes I was out but then slept until I was home. I battled and won against the ‘mum guilts’ then. He may have cried if I had been there anyway. He was fine when he woke up – he wasn’t holding grudges!

That’s the thing, that’s what I want you to remember. Ultimately your child wants to be loved. You are doing that every single day. You are loving them in the best way that you can and they don’t hold you even a fraction as accountable as you hold yourself.

So, whatever your ‘mum guilts’ are about. Whatever triggers them in you – let it go.

You are a mother but you are not guilty.

Guilt is such an ugly, all consuming thing and frankly you don’t have time for it. You are far too busy loving your child.

So tonight, get some sleep while you can, don’t re assess the whole day picking on your faults but instead remember the smiles and laughter that were just for you, remember the hugs, the holding of your hand and know your little one sleeps feeling cherished by you.

You are loved. You are not guilty.