"Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass but learning to dance in the rain" Vivian Greene
We live in an instant gratification society. Everyone wants things done NOW, not a minute later. People put their greatest news on Instagram as it is happening, now, there are drive-throughs to get a morning coffee, now, and you no longer have to enter a pin number to make a payment, everything is fashioned for NOW!
I've heard people say, "Enjoy every moment of parenting because it goes so fast.", and it is so true. My baby is 8 months and she is standing up, has two teeth, chatting away, even if it's just 100s of variations on the word "Dadda!", and crawling. How did this happen?! I no longer have a newborn but a full-on toddler.
The world has become impatient, but what happened to old saying "Good things come to those who wait"? Whether we want to admit it or not, we all fall victim to a now mentality. I have found this to be true with my daughter, and when talking to other parents I am not alone in this. So often I will hear "I can't wait for the baby to sleep through the night ..." or "We are waiting for the next tooth to come through any day now.". People are waiting, but waiting with anticipation and impatience.
"Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a GIFT. That's why it's called the present." Bil Keane
Mental health is such a talked about topic at the moment, especially for new mothers and people in the workplace and it got me to think: Are we breeding an atmosphere of discontent? We always want what is to come and so do we miss the opportunity to stop to enjoy the now? It's the same with work, people just want to get the year-end out the way, or make it through this quarter to get to their promotion.
Sometimes when we reach the goal, people will say they want to go back to the way things used to be because achievements have consequences. My baby, for example now has teeth (milestone met), however (consequence) this also means she can now bite - including myself and other children. AHHHH!!!! Crawling means she has to have less freedom and needs to be put in her playpen to stop her from getting things she shouldn't. In work and life, achieving our next milestones and goals brings great power and with that comes great responsibility and consequences too.
As I near the point of going back to work more permanently, I question whether I have made the most of the last 9 months or whether I have wished my time away without even realising it. Have I been focused so much on planning the future, that I am missing the present in today? My baby will never be this age again and work will always be evolving and changing. So I ask myself, am I going to enjoy both being a mum, and my work which is constantly changing and evolving? Am I going to make the most of the opportunities I have to grow in both these areas? Am I going to be a SmartWorking Mum who has the balance of work and life right? The truth is I don't know. But for me, these questions are not helpful because they could lead to worry and stress and take away from the gift of today.
The advice I gave to myself and will now give to you is:
1. Take photos. At home or in the office, take photos. Not loads, maybe 1-5 to capture key memories so you don't forget them. Don't spend the whole time on your camera or uploading photos to social media at the time the photo was taken. Take the photo and be present for the rest of the moment. Social media can wait; the melting ice-cream and swatting away wasps from sticky fingers can't.
2. Rest. We constantly rush from one thing to another and want to make the most of every minute but how often do we just stop and do nothing? So often I would look forward to a commute into London because that was my nothing time. I would put some classical music on and just rest my eyes or look out of the window and take in the scenery. I would spend some time checking up on emails and prepping for where I was going but then I would stop and enjoy the present. I would prepare myself for the day and make sure I was going into it with a clear mind.
When babies keep you up at night it can be hard for your brain to switch off as there is always something to think about. I started this blog at 4.30am the other night when the idea came to me. My mind wasn't switching off, so I grabbed a piece of paper, did a brain dump of what was going on in my mind and then turned off the light and enjoyed a restful night's sleep.
3. Work, don't strive. So many lessons can be learnt on the journey to where you are going. I can be the mum I am today because of the previous 8 months of experience I have acquired getting to know my baby. We have got to work hard to achieve our dreams but if we are striving then we are "struggling or fighting vigorously" to make it happen. This is not a place of rest and enjoyment but a place of stress, narrow vision and will be a burden. When striving we wont notice anything other than what we want to achieve. However, if we work rather than strive we create a balance, have a healthy focus and an awareness of what is going on around us. We will be present. in the present.
And finally -
4. Learn to be patient. I don't ever want to miss opportunities, important moments, or neglect someone's emotions because I was too busy running around, or my mind was too cluttered with thoughts, worries or doubts. If having something now means I miss something of importance or value, then I am happy to wait. Seasons of life will change but I don't want to be discontent, putting on my wellington boots wishing for the rain to come when I could be out barefoot enjoying the sun. So as I stated at the beginning of this blog - Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, so I'm just going to enjoy dancing in the rain!