A while ago, a friend suggested that I write something on this topic. Yea, I’ve been trying. Do I have a nice, glowy outcome planned for this post? No. Not at all. #idontknowwhatimdoing
All I know is that this is something I struggle with immensely, especially when I’m obsessing. As in now.
Being in the moment is difficult enough in our day-to-day lives. I mean, we’re bombarded with things to consume from all angles. We can access anything from our phones, which means from anywhere we have wifi reception. So checking Twitter while at a coffee date with a friend is totally doable, and also kind of the norm.
Now, I can’t speak for anyone else but myself, so everything from here on will be focussed on what takes me out of the moment. Obviously, your experience is probably totally different than mine.
It’s been ages since I’ve just sat and watched a TV show, for instance. As a rule, I’m playing a game on my phone, or I’ll do something artsy to keep my hands busy. Most of the time, the hubs and I have random conversations as the show progresses too. And while all of this is going on, my mind will keep returning to whatever I’m obsessing about (which, right now, has nothing to do with my novel).
The same goes for being with my daughter. When we’re building Lego, I’m on the ground with her, passing her blocks or helping her get the structure for the house in place. We’re talking about the colours of the blocks, we’re counting how many we’ve used in the tower, and we’ll randomly burst out into song as we work. At the same time, though, I’m probably in conversation with someone via some kind of messenger service, my mind is running amok with whatever, and sometimes, I’ll play a cellphone game while doing all of the rest too. This is why I refuse to access any social media sites from my phone – I don’t want to add more possible distractions.
It can be called multi-tasking, I know. But I wonder sometimes if all the stuff we do simultaneously doesn’t subtract from experiencing one thing to the fullest. That thought isn’t going to stop this behaviour, though.
Personally, brainless games (I love match 3) helps me unwind and consider the day’s events. This joins in with what I wrote the other day about gaming. The monotony of matching coloured icons somehow frees up mental space and is especially helpful when I’m anxious about something. It’s so soothing. If we’re being honest, I’m not taking in every nuance of the TV show or movie in the background, but I’m getting a moment to process instead. Maybe that means I’ll have to think a little harder about what happened so far in the show’s storyline when we start the next episode, but that moment of extra thought is still worth it. Being the mother and full-time babysitter of a three-year-old while working from home means processing moments are rare. I’ll take them wherever I can find them.
Do I feel guilty that I’m not 100% Kayla’s while we’re playing? Yes. But then, show me a mother who doesn’t feel mum guilt. ◄ That’s probably the biggest theme in motherhood, except for loving our kids. Oh, and being better at mothering than any other mother in the history of motherhood. I’m looking at you, sanctimommies.
These days, there’s so much pressure on all of us that human-ing is insanely difficult. You want to be the best mum, partner and friend, while also chasing your dreams and making a success. We spread ourselves really thin, more so than generations before us. It makes sense that we have more on our minds and therefore need more unwinding time.
I read these long ass posts about putting down your phone and being in the moment all the time, but I don’t always agree with all they say. You know what, we’re all doing the best we can.
Our grandmothers were often stay-at-home mothers who gave up every other ambition when they got married. They spent their every waking moment keeping the husband and kids happy and fed, and that’s great. Fabulous, really.
Our mothers were a part of the first generation of working women. They fought to open a path to equality for us, while still being wives and mothers. They pulled it off, but often, at the cost of being with their family 24/7 (obviously). Also, really fantastic. If they hadn’t managed to find a balance, women would still be oppressed and less of us girls would be able to follow our dreams. And look at us! We’re fine.
The point of all the above rambling? I reckon our kids will be fine. We’re all just doing the best we can.
And honestly, sometimes this multi-tasking is helpful. If playing a game on my phone after lunch makes me feel calmer, that’s better for my kid and husband too, right? If something helps me focus, lifts my bad mood or offers me a moment to process, it means I’m less likely to snap at other people. AKA, I’ll probably react in a tranquil kind of way when Kayla colours on the sofa.
Sure, there’s a point where being out of the moment is rude or hurtful, but that’s a post for another day. And I’m not writing it. Haha. Bad habits are so difficult to break that I still don’t know how or where to start.
I wrote this post with other mothers in mind (as if you didn’t pick up on that) because I know how tough we, as a sub-species, are on ourselves. Most of us aren’t harming anyone by zoning out, but we’ll kill ourselves with guilt when we do.
We’re so quick to bring ourselves down when it comes to these things, when the truth is, we should love ourselves enough to take a breather when we need to. If we can manage that, we become better mothers, partners and people, because we look at life through the calm-glasses. You can only give so much of yourself before you need refilling.
So refill and relax. You’ve got this, even when you check your phone every now and then.
Hey, lookie! This post DID have a nice, glowy outcome. Ha.