If you look back at yesterday, what is it that you remember?
For every single one of us busy mamas of tiny humans, there is a daily dance of repetitive selfless actions: wipe bottoms, roll up socks, cut off crusts, refill water bottles, tidy the toys, dry tears, make dinner, strap seat belts, search for the special cuddly friend, read bedtime stories and explain in simple terms why some of us have blue eyes and some brown, but actually we are all the same.
There might be brief moments of pure happiness and joy. Those seconds when time stands still, and you finally soak into one tiny detail, marveling at its beauty.
Those are very rare to find and can easily slip away if we are too distracted by the mundane, or if our own worries and inner dialogue are playing on repeat.
Like that time the kid finally climbed to the top of the slide and victoriously signaled his accomplishment to the mom, but she didn’t see him because she was too busy talking to the other mom friends in the park about how important it is to steam veggies rather than boil them.
Or the time our kid tried so hard to get our attention, “Mom, mama, mummy, mommy, look at me look at me LOOK-AT-ME!” while we said, “Wait for one second honey, I’ll be right with you!” because we were hiding in the kitchen, deep into the postpartum pictures our high school nemesis posted on Facebook.
We’ve seen other mothers doing it, we judged them. We did it ourselves, hoping nobody saw us or judged us. Either way, we judged ourselves.
And so we end the day feeling guilty, unable to marinate our expectations with the reality.
I’ve been there, and I know every single one of us has felt it. It is yet again a reminder that any version of multitasking is just an unachievable tool of success in life, whether you are pursuing motherhood or business.
The moment I shifted my perspective into taking care of my own needs first, with intention and daily frequency, I observed a complete change in the quality of my presence.
When I was with my children, I could gift them my undivided attention and participation. When I was with my partner, I could truly be with him, listening and connecting. When I was with my friends, I could focus on the dialogue we needed to have.
But it only happened in the days when I was by myself, I was unapologetically doing what made me happy. I was offering myself the quality time I needed to soothe my soul, body, and mind. Every single day.
I started a practice one day I was walking home from dropping off my daughter. Usually, my brain was busy with planning, analyzing, thinking of the next step. This day, however, I was really tired. So tired that I could not formulate proper thoughts. So I just walked. Noticed the trees. Looked up in the sky and observed the clouds. Then I stopped in front of a beautiful flower bush and just stretched my arms above my head. My tired body cracked. I wasn’t running my lunch menu shopping list or writing my emails. I was just observing.
Only 10 minutes from school to home, I had the most amazing quality time. And when I returned home, I was able to distinguish the essential from the noise. I had a beautiful day, even though I was feeling so exhausted.
From that day on, the walk from school is a sacred practice. I walk purposefully, feeling the ground under my feet. I breathe deeply, tasting the morning air. I look up and notice the sky, marveling at the clarity of its blue or the depth of the chunky clouds. It is the empty walk when I don’t honor anything my busy brain has to say. None of those thoughts are important or relevant during this time.
By doing this, I am offering myself purposeful blank space. But I’m an introvert fueled by solitude. For you, this time can look and feel completely different: seeing a friend and deeply connecting with shared stories. Drinking a coffee and feeling the taste and the temperature on your lips. Cooking and noticing every single vegetable you cut, the sound of sizzle and smell of the ingredients.
Whichever form or manifestation it takes, spend some time every single day gifting yourself quality time. Not at the expense of your children or family, but to recharge and value your wellbeing. Ideally, first.
This is an excerpt from the book, Manual for Motherhood, by Talida Van Boxstael.