Have you succumbed to it before?
The need to keep ‘doing’. Thinking that to be ‘successful’ comes in doing more? Thinking that achieving the next big goal/promotion/job/business will make you happy? Going to ALL the events/workshops/conferences? Running your diary with clockwork precision to make it through the week? Constantly moving the goal post? Hustling harder? I just need ‘x’ to make it?
I have. More than once. I easily fall into that trap of feeling like I need to ‘do’ more. One of my biggest challenges has been to just ‘be’, but this last 12 months has been something I have worked on. I still remember the day I noticed how green the trees were and the day my son started school and I realised I barely remembered the last 3 years before because I had been too ‘busy’ rushing through life.
Nothing could have been a bigger reminder to ‘be’ more than the passing of one of my sons school mates a couple of weeks ago. It has left a whole community heartbroken, let alone the heartache his beautiful family is feeling. He has touched so many, and he was just 6 years old.
Our conversations as parents have turned from how we are juggling it ‘all’ or rushing off to work, to hugging our children more, to how short life is, to how nothing is guaranteed, to how we want to take more time out to soak up our little people, to how we need to take more time out to just enjoy life.
All of us have had a dose of reality. And a reminder that this could have been any of us. It sucks that it takes loss to remind us of all this.
As I took my youngest son to the playground on Tuesday, I played with him. We jumped on mini trampolines and I pushed him on the swing, I watched his smile and heard his laugh. I felt the sun on our backs, the cool breeze on our faces and I watched the storm clouds roll in. I made a decision that day that we will be having Mummy & A days from now on. He has just turned 3 and our time together like this is limited.
Sometimes as parents we think we just want to give the best to our kids. So we work ourselves into the ground trying to do it. I know I did. That feeling of wanting to give them we might not have had.
We work harder to make more money to pay for their sports/activities/holidays.
We give up our own self-care and exercise so that they can do theirs, sacrificing our own health and wellbeing.
We take on bigger mortgages so that we have to work more to pay for it, to give them their own rooms, multiple living areas, more room to run around…
We do all of this for ‘them’.
But you know what they really want?? They just want us.
Yes these things above are nice to have. But what they really need is us to be there. They want us to be healthy and be able to play with them (don’t sacrifice your self care!!!), they want to spend time with us (seriously, a holiday to Victor Harbour can be just as good!), they want us to engage, to hug and to love them (and that don’t cost a thing!).
You may be thinking, what does she know. She isn’t a researcher or a child psychologist. No I’m not. But I was once a child myself. A child who had a Dad who worked A LOT. Who was rarely there for dinners. Or to pick me up from school. Or to spend Saturdays with us (unless we were on a holiday). I played one sport and he was there to support me with that, which I remember relishing in. He was around but it’s interesting that I remember so much more the times he wasn’t. As I have grown older I have realised just how much my mum did for us, how much she took on (often sacrificing herself in the process) and how much I missed having him there. Watching my husband with our boys also makes me realise how much he does with them and how much support he gives me too, and what that little Inner Child feels like she missed out on…
My Dad did his best, the best he knew how at the time. And I can’t knock him for that. He was an amazing man and a huge inspiration to me to go into business and leave some sort of legacy. But I would have given up our bigger house and the legacy he left from touching so many others lives, to have him there more. When he did start to slow down a little and I really started to spend time with him, we were older and starting to make our own lives, and then he got cancer and then we lost him.
As I look at my two boys, I thank god that I started to see the light last year, before it was too late. I was not there enough for them, but like my Dad I was doing the best I could with what I knew. Thankfully now I know more. The best legacy I can leave and the one that matters most, is the one my kids remember.
Hug your families close tonight, linger a little bit longer on those bedtime cuddles. Check in with a family member, so they know you care. Slow down tomorrow, notice the little things. The crisp morning breeze, the sounds as you walk to the office, the way your little one eats their breakfast with their awkward little hands.
Our big lofty dreams and goals are important, but so too is being here on earth as a ‘human being’.