A clever jingle with pulsating vibrations is the sound my phone makes each morning when my alarm is going off. I’m not sure about most people in the world, but for me… getting out of the bed in the mornings is never easy. I’m tempted to hit my snooze button a 1,000 times! In fact, truth be told I have multiple alarms set because the snooze button is way to appealing! On average I manage to force myself out of the bed in an appropriate time frame, to get myself and two children out the door on time for school and work. Time… Despite all efforts we make to plan and schedule things while multitasking through them; we don’t seem to have enough time in the day to get everything we need to get done, done.
This morning my two-year old son crawled into my bed about an hour before my alarm clock went off. He cuddled up next to me with his freezing miniature toes against my back. Umm hmm What a wakeup call right! I rolled over to him and told him, “Soon we would have to get up and get dressed for the day.” He said, “No mommy, me not getting up” and pulled the blankets over his head. He wedged himself right up next to me, popped out his head, looked up at me and said, “I love you mommy.” I couldn’t help but, fully soak up and treasure this brief moment with him. In his little world, he only wanted to sleep in; to slow down instead of being rushed out the door to meet the day. The thing is… so did I.
Every day seems to be hectic; pressed against a time clock of deadlines that build up within us as dread and anxiety. We cram as much as we can into our day, to be “productive.” We work and live on time lines and schedules of responsibilities, bills, and expectations. I recently, started feeling the wear of exhaustion from all of the cramming. In this nonstop hectic pace of rushing from one task to the next, pushing through another deadline, and stretching myself out to do and be everywhere I’m needed; I realized life was living me. That time was still ticking away and so are my moments with my children. I’m guilty of hurrying our lives.
More now than ever, I feel this surging presence of time. I look at my children, see them ageing right before my eyes, and I was not slowing down to savor it and be present in their moments. I appreciated the moments after they have passed. (Yes, tears in my eyes as I confess to this.) They are playing and I’m to busy cleaning, or working, doing laundry, and everything else that needs to be done. They ask me to play or come do something and my response is usually, not right now I’m busy with (whatever it may be).
Somewhere over the last few months I had an epiphany. What exactly was I valuing…? It occurred to me, it wasn’t the most important things to me. My children and time I’d never get back to spend with them. They grow up so fast and every year seems to go by faster! I have put so much pressure and expectations on myself to feel worthy and be successful; that I exuded the ones I should have been the most conscious about! How in the hell did I do this without realizing it?
I realized that the rushing and the constant movement, the driving force… were all distractions from feeling this overwhelming and underlying fear of possible failure. Failure to who though? I don’t even know… It’s my fear of other people’s judgments, but really… the worst judgment – is my own. I can be so critical and uncompassionate towards myself. (I’m more compassionate for others than I am for myself because I don’t believe in excuses or self-pity.) I’ve had this urgency over the last four years or so to feel needed, productive, and successful. So I figured that each milestone and small achievement must have meant I was doing something right. Right? I was so wrong! (Yes, effort counts because you still need to apply yourself to get what you want from this life. However…)
I had attached my self-worth to achievement, productivity, and results. Most of my goals I have in fact reached or exceeded in. I felt like if I slowed down any; I’d lose control and if I lost control, I’d lose everything I have worked so hard for. I wouldn’t continue to move forward, to grow, and maybe I’d get stuck or go backwards. A panic and fear that failure and everything else would come falling down around me. There was this inner drive that kept forcing me to cram everything in – in order to feel worthy of being proud of myself. These things I felt like I needed to prove in order to be loved, to be successful, to be so much more than just a shell of a person – who I was at one time in my life. For too long, I have felt guilty if and when, I slow down; even if it were only for a moment. If I slowed down it meant losing my self-worth to being productive and reaching achievements. It would mean that I could miss opportunities, if I wasn’t being as aggressive enough to find them. I realize now, that simply is not the case.
While I still tie my self-worth to achievements and personal growth, I tie it most to being a good mother. I realized, it is time for me to be more nurturing to myself and slow down. I have to make a conscious effort to give myself permission to be present in the moment, instead of only focusing on my future. What I have learned from slowing down this far; is that joy is easier to find because you can appreciate the simpler moments. It’s okay to smile, be spontaneous, and to live for today as well as, for tomorrow. I want to soak up every milestone with my children. I need to learn to have more patience and understanding; so that I can relate to them in their journey and help them along the way. I want to be a major part of their memories from their childhood and not just a person who is in them. It’s seeing the world from their pure, unpolluted, and innocent eyes with the fondness they naturally have. Their virtuous curiosity, state of mind, and notions make the world a much better place. Children do such a good job at reminding us of small pleasures. That as adults, we don’t always see and get excited over because they seem so foolish to us.
Life is such a balance… It’s truly gaining a sense of acknowledgement for our own well-being. It depends so much on our attitudes and perspectives towards our past, engaging in enjoyments and trials of our present, and the goals we set to focus on the future. Balance, my dear friends… balance.