Good mums are doers; mums who bake with their kids, play tirelessly and get involved in the PTFA and volunteer at their child’s school. Right? And often without breaking out in a sweat. How does she do it all, you wonder!? And rather than realising that there might be a price to pay for spinning so many plates, – you might find yourself trying to honour the same impossibly high standards.
But when you really think about it none of this is essential in order to be a good parent. Whatever that even means. While I don’t subscribe to good mum/ bad mum distinctions – I do believe that there is often something that stands in the way of us FEELING like a good mum. And that thing is often the ability to slow down. To be here now. To just be!
It’s hard not to be great mum when you slow down.
When you allow yourself to dwell and allow your child to set the tempo.
Child time vs adult time
Few things highlight how children and adults relate differently to time – than those mornings when all you care about is getting to school and work on time – and all that ends up happening is you repeating the instruction “come on – we’re going to be late” to your child who seems to be working on a completely different time schedule.
Because he is. Young children are not tyrannised by the passing of time to the extent that we are. You may think of there being only one reality – but I think it’s really useful to distinguish between two modes of time.
There’s time as experienced by your child. And time as experienced by you.
For the young child – time is not finite or something you can run out of or need to worry about. Because children are concerned with the HERE AND NOW. Not worrying about yesterday and generally not preoccupied with thoughts about tomorrow of what’s next on the agenda.
Where did your little girl go?
I remember as a child going for long – slow walks with my grandmother in the swedish woods – wanting to press the antennae of every slug we passed. And how she delighted in this favourite pastime of mine without constantly egging me on.
Later on she’d tell me that the only thing that would ever upset me was if she rushed me. I think about this often. Now that I easily slip into efficiency mode and have to try hard NOT to rush around.
Now that I am a mother of two – with a full life, a business to run, a husband, friends, family overseas and a desire to expand and get the most out of life. Where did that little girl go?
Where did your little child go?
The one who could dwell and marvel at things and feel enough even if the dishes hadn’t been done and you hadn’t ticked everything off the to-do list?
Just look at that leaf – and marvel at that conker
I see her in my own two children. And I remember. And I’m saddened to admit that the hardest thing as a mum is not doing it all. It’s allowing ourselves to do less. And be here more.
Motherhood in a nutshell – is having your agenda constantly changed, delayed, disrupted – and coming to accept this in every moment of every day.
- You go for a power walk with the kids in tow on their bikes; “Mum check out this snail!”
- You go in the kitchen to cook in peace and quiet and your 5 year old asks: “Mum – can I help you”?
- A nice family vacation is booked and the plan is to all get on and the reality is that there is a sibling conflict every 10 minutes.
I’m beginning to see that motherhood requires a softness and flexibility that I never cared to consider before I had children. It’s hard. Because the programming to treat every moment as a stepping stone to the next is so ingrained.
And we need not necessarily know WHY we ended finding ‘not doing’ so hard. We cannot think our way to a different way of being. We have to add action. And remember that action – can also be to stop.
One of the surest signs that I’m a little disconnected from myself is when dwelling – stopping to look at a dead squirrel or collecting conkers makes me feel restless and I hear myself saying; “Come ooooon”
So try for this next week to:
- Look at that conker
- Help them find that perfect leaf for their art project
- Really look into your child’s eyes at eye height when he’s trying to tell you something
When we slow down the tempo we get way more connection. Both to ourself and to our loved ones – but especially to our children. See what happens – just for this next week.