Who ever comes to the end of their life and wishes that they had done more housework, spent more time at work, tweeted or Facebooked more, or watched more television? And yet how often do we fill our lives with these things and then say we have no time for other more pleasurable pastimes. No time to sit by the river and watch the world go by. Or savour a pastry with a friend. Or paint a picture. Or write a letter. Or join a choir. Or go dancing. Or play. Or make or listen to music. Or make a strawberry trifle. Or create something new.
There is nothing you can buy or achieve or own that will bring deep soul satisfaction. Yet we all have many ways of expressing our Self creatively that does bring a sense of inner peace and fulfillment.
I know that I am one of the most significant role models for my daughter. More powerful than what I may say to her are the many things that she learns by observing how I live my life. I stand for womanhood for her. Just think of how many adults still make their choices based on being-like or definitely-not-being-like their parents. That is parent-power – we define ourselves around them – often without even knowing it.
So, if I’m to carry such weight in my children’s lives, I want to be worth copying. There are bound to be things they don’t want to emulate, but on the whole I want my life to look attractive. And not just in that way that children so often perceive as us having all the freedom to do, eat, and go to bed when we want (oh I wish) but I want my life to make growing up and becoming a woman look appealing. I want to be a good advert for womanhood.
So I ask myself, does the way I live my life make being a grown up seem desirable? Do I want my daughter to live the way I do? Viewing my life this way, I see things I am proud of and things that I really do not want to pass on to her. Things to change then.
Not enough of my life is devoted to me. Too much of my time is spent in front of a computer screen, on the phone, moving bits of paper around, moving clothes around, moving dust around, moving other people’s stuff around, and resenting it. I am not happy-Mummy when too much of my day has been spent in domestics. I tell myself that I cannot relax until things are sorted, but they never are, never will be. Living with a constant feeling of things-not-yet-done tends me towards being stressy-Mummy and that serves no-one.
However, I have discovered something: if I take half an hour out each day just for me, to indulge myself in some way, then I am happier. Now I even take twenty-fours hours to myself once a month too. I then approach everything else in my life more peacefully. So it infuses the rest of my life. Of equal importance is that my children see a different way of being – taking care of self first, leading to everything else improving; this is how I would wish my children to lead their lives.
Clever me, I have just written a justification for self-indulgence. Actually I want my children to witness me doing things that make my heart sing – and is this not what I want them to seek out in life? How much easier for them to follow their bliss, if I am doing that myself, albeit in little but regular pockets. Besides, I find the effects of nourishing my soul always filter through into the rest of my day.
Something else that I am learning is this:- it’s not just what I do but how I do it. I am really good at multitasking – helping with a spelling, whilst untangling a kite string, stirring the soup, sorting out a lift share on the phone, and putting a load of washing on. This is a productive way to operate, and necessary at times, but it is far from restful. It can become a bit of a habitual way of being too. My mind is working overtime, I am less patient with the children, and I’m not at peace. I have been experimenting with doing one thing at a time.
Less efficient but I am happier.
A friend recently suggested to “start everything with a pause.” There are some in my family who are very good at this – I would do well to copy them (instead of finding it irksome!)
I am just learning these things. It goes against some aspects of my up-bringing, and the work-ethic of our culture, so I can only take baby steps. Learning by doing. We learn from each other – how do you create peace and a feeling of fulfillment for yourself?