I used to live my life by this belief – If I fill every single minute of my schedule, if every page in my diary is full of coffee dates and gym dates and dinner dates, then I will be one very important, very happy girl. Business equals significance. Right?
As I write this post I am sitting on my lounge while my four-month-old little boy is asleep. I have dived head first into motherhood, and while life as a mother is beautifully chaotic it is also a significant change of pace for me. There are no coffee dates planned for today, no long drives to visit friends, no work that keeps me busy from 9 to 5, no gym classes that I can pop out to do and be back home in time to have a quick shower before heading out to dinner. And while all of these things are still possible when you have a bub, this cannot be my reality every day of the week. Nor do I want it to be because I have finally learnt the answer to my question – business does not equal significance.
Before I continue let me preface by saying that there is nothing wrong with being busy. That is the nature of life for most of us. Between work, family, friends, sport, social media and technology, it’s a wonder we ever get a chance to think, stop and breathe. The pressures of life are great and survival mode kicks in, we cruise (or rather speed) along in autopilot. But what happens when you can no longer function in autopilot? What happens when you go through a significant change in your life like becoming a parent or having a break from work or study? When you can no longer have every minute of your week planned out and the things that used to occupy your mind are no longer there? For me this meant a complete freak out! What do I do for five hours of the day when my child is (hopefully) sleeping? How can I possibly stay inside for long periods of time? What will I do to pass the time? It was through these thoughts that my desire to always be busy surfaced; that is where I found my significance – in doing.
It can be hard to be present in the "now", we’re always thinking or worrying or working towards the next thing. But what If you were present in each moment? What would you discover? I discovered that when my husband wanted my attention I was too busy doing something to notice. I would get cranky when I was doing the washing-up and he wanted to interrupt me for a hug. Or when he’s talking to me about his day and I give my attention to my beeping phone, all the while telling him that I’m still listening. I discovered that our apartment is west facing which means we have a perfect view of some pretty incredible sunsets. I discovered that my little boy prefers I play with him rather than just place him on his play mat and walk away.
I will never get these moments back. Life will pass by and I have to stop and ask myself... have I truly grasped onto the things that are important? – investing in rich, deep relationships, giving 100% of my attention to my little man, actively listening to my husband, taking time to clear my mind because I know the impacts of great stress.
I have made the choice to sit outside on my veranda each day at 5pm with a blanket and watch each layer of the sunset unfold. Some days I watch in awe and feel incredibly thankful for all of the joys in my life, some days I find myself getting upset and having a sneaky cry, letting some of my frustration out and other days I’ve been known to miss the entire sunset because I’ve fallen asleep. There is housework to do, something I could be watching on the telly or yet another blog about sleeping babies to read. But by taking the time to just stop and sit, I’m letting go of the need to always be busy, while becoming comfortable with my own company and the silence that can sometimes bring. Each time I embrace this new pace of life I am learning to find my significance in my relationships, in my role as a mum to Harper, as someone who is present in the now for her friends and for her family and for her own sense of fulfilment.
I challenge and encourage you today to be honest with yourself – where are you finding your significance? Is it caught up in always being busy, always doing doing, doing, or are you standing firm amongst the things that really matter in life?