Navigating motherhood for the first time is unknown territory and unique as each one of us is different. But to me the most gracious gift from the divine. My husband and I are mediums and we met in a spiritualist church. Therefore, my blogs will have the essence of spirituality running through them.
I have said in a previous blog, I had my daughter at 42, so she is a great blessing because I overcame fertility issues. In her presence, I daily journey with her in great wonderment as she learns, develops, and grows in this world of ours. I feel a calling to share my experience of motherhood for reasons I am still uncovering, but in this, I give the intention to hope it touches, inspires, or helps others because words are a powerful tool for transformation, connection, and compassion.
While at home with my daughter on maternity leave, which I was very lucky to have the first year off with her. When she took her naps, I became accustomed to the YouTube app on my TV. One of my Character Strengths from working with Values in Action (VIA) on the MAPP is ‘love of learning’, which comes under the virtue of wisdom (Linley, 2008). This strength has been the driver of my chosen career as a teacher and the journey into mediumship in my thirties and I only connected the dots during the strengths-based development and engagement module on the MAPP. I knew I needed to keep this Character Strength nurtured otherwise it affects my energy levels and there is one thing a new mum needs and that is energy. While nurturing this virtue, I watched the teaching of Gabor Maté. I had come across his work by reading ‘When the Body Says No: The Cost of Hidden Stress’ (Gabor Maté, 2019). I find his insight and knowledge about brain development fascinating.
Neurons that fire together, wire together.
The most profound message, which I already knew due to my extensive training in mental health and Positive Psychology was the “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” Here I was with the responsibility of laying the foundations into the habit patterns that will shape my daughter for the trajectory of her lifespan. A very powerful and meaningful role and one I am going to do consciously and intentionally. I am not deluded, I am aware that subconscious drivers will play their part and there will be many moments of imperfection, but there are things I want to ensure my daughter has to equip her in her life.
The first one is ‘laughter’. I practice Laughter Yoga, which is prolonged voluntary laughter with my daughter daily. This came from the work of our lovely co-founder of The Positive Psychology People – Lesley Lyle. We were meant to have a session with Lesley on the MAPP, however, she actually could not make the session and our lecturers at the time Matthew Smith and Piers Worth conducted it. The profound lesson I learnt is I wait for something funny to make me laugh and I wait a very long time.
My parents had a messy divorce, so happiness and laughter were always short-lived. Laughter increases endorphins, which are the happy hormones in the brain. My daughter and I have been doing daily Laughter Yoga since she began to laugh. Now she is older, we do it more than once a day and I join in every time she laughs. It not only wires those neurons, but it also increases our positive connection as we share laughter together. It is also rewiring my neurons from waiting for something to make me laugh to giving myself permission to laugh for absolutely no reason. So, getting back to Maté, brain development in the first three years is fundamental to the development of the brain and the internal messages we send ourselves throughout our lives. Some of the programming this early can still be deeply ingrained and affect us as adults.
Therefore, I know this journey of Laughter Yoga with Ava (my daughter) will create and cultivate core positive foundations that she will now have in her psychological and emotional toolbox that we will continue to develop together. My main message for Ava is that we do not need to wait for something funny to laugh. We can laugh without a reason because it makes us feel better. It lifts our spirits, and it promotes happiness.
Linley, A. (2008). Average to A+ : realising strengths in yourself and others. Capp Press.
Kern, ML, & Wehmeyer, ML (2021). The Palgrave handbook of positive education. Palgrave Macmillan.
Mate, G (2019). When the body says no: the cost of hidden stress. Vermilion.
Norrish, J., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2015). Positive Education: the Geelong Grammar School journey. Oxford University Press.
‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’