Do wellbeing and motherhood belong in the same sentence? Is it possible to feel comfortable, healthy, and happy while caring for a tiny human 24-7?
Definition of wellbeing is the state of being comfortable, healthy or happy.
As a grandparent observing my daughter parent her toddler my heart aches for her. I see how she moves from one room to the next, a constant buzz of doing, cleaning, tidying, cooking and ever patiently responding to the beautiful child redirecting her from a demonic meltdown of unknown origin. My daughter also has a full-time job, a full-time business, a full-time partner, a full-time mortgage, a full-time desire to do it all well, yet leaving only stolen moments for herself.
It reminds me of how I was 35 years ago. I used to defiantly, even proudly admit to friends or colleagues that no matter where I was at any given moment, I was supposed to be somewhere else. Proudly, because I was demonstrating that my work was important, and I had to keep doing it all. But in fact, I was trying and failing to do multiple tasks at the same time. As a leadership coach now, I remind people that our brains are not designed to multitask. In fact, we shift very quickly from one task or thought to another, but we don’t do things simultaneously and trying to do so only makes a poor job of both tasks. We can’t listen to someone, while we are thinking of a response. We can’t see the drawing our child has coloured, when we are making a grocery list. We cannot feel comfortable when we are remembering the list of unfinished tasks or planning what we must do later.
If I could tell my younger self what I know now, I would tell her to stop striving. It does not add up to happiness, comfort, or health. Instead, I would tell my younger self to pause, not rush to the next thing, but rather take 2 minutes to breathe and listen to the sounds of my environment and look deeply at what is in front of me. Stop doing and be still! It is not a luxury, only available to monks, it is our human design…we are human beings.
I can hear my younger self protest “but everything I am doing is urgent and if I don’t do it, no one else will!” That is a lie we tell ourselves. Maybe, we absorbed from our parents that, a clean, orderly house, well behaved children, meaningful work, and career advancement is the standard of success. Ask yourself, what beliefs you have about success that keep you striving? Question them again to see if they are truly worthy of your time, because without health, both physical and mental, some things just might be too costly to attain.
A powerful contemplation I set for myself helped to order my priorities and immediately I was able to find peace with the choices I made by consulting my ‘elder self’. I can look back over my life and discern what my wiser elder self, tells me is important. I could feel my priorities, the list of accomplishments I was striving to reach, shuffle themselves into a new order.
If you choose to do this contemplation, make sure you are consulting YOUR elder self not your parents, other leaders, or society, seek only your own wisdom.
The pandemic has brought us all to a stop. While not a comfortable place for most of us, it has been a gift of time to re-evaluate what we want for ourselves and our families. Let’s not go back to the same fast pace and relentless striving. Invite a new pace with clear priorities and solid boundaries so that you can be proud of being a mother who achieves wellbeing!