I had to slow down recently for about 3 weeks. By slowing down I mean almost coming to a standstill. On paper my downtime would have looked like utopia to someone else looking in. Everyone I know is incredibly busy, often to the point of overwhelm, with careers, children, family, fitness, hobbies, and the endless cleaning of the house. I knew my chance to have a lie-in, watch day time tv and enjoy the lovely weather would have been like winning the lottery to someone else. And in theory it should have been like that to me too, only it didn’t feel like that. All I felt was frustration at not being able to do the things I wanted to do and guilt at having to draw on extra support from my family. I didn’t feel I deserved this unexpected downtime and it seemed particularly bad timing. So for the first two weeks I felt annoyed and mentally fought against it even though physically there was nothing I could do.
But being a coach, I began to self-coach and ask myself ‘why is this happening?’ What am I meant to learn from this? What am I uneasy about in my life that this forced change is here? I firmly believe that everything happens for a reason, even the things we really don’t want. And the answer came to me, as it frequently does, from my little girl Kate.
Kate is a daddy’s girl through and through. It’s a beautiful thing to watch. My husband is the most incredible father and they are the apple of each other’s eye. As grateful and as proud as I am for that, it doesn’t mean that the odd time I’m not a bit jealous. That’s a hard thing to admit as parent but it’s the truth. Kate is two years old and is as delightful and as bold as any other two year old. She constantly tests her boundaries, pushes for independence and my husband says we are the cut of each other. That leads to occasional (ok frequent) clashes. During my forced ‘mini-break’, I had to cancel our usual routine. No play dates, minimal visitors, gone was a schedule of any kind. We’d get up each day and if we stayed in our pyjamas until lunch time, what did it matter. We’d wander out for a walk whenever we were eventually ready to go but without having to be anywhere at any specific time. We spent at least an hour one day just looking at everything in the cul de sac outside our house…multiple stones (“ooooh”), blue sky (“I love blue sky mommy”), some wild mushrooms (“they look like umbrellas”) and a slug (“pretty”). Normally I would have been rushing her along, bribing her to do what I needed her to do, giving out when we were against the clock and in my busyness, missing all these things that were fascinating to her. Now all of a sudden, I had all the time in the world just to be with her. To understand better when she was getting upset about things. I found myself becoming gentler, less impatient, and I have watched in fascination as to how already in such a short space of time, our relationship has changed. How we are both much happier sometimes doing nothing, not always having a plan. I have noticed how many things on the ‘To Do’ list simply aren’t necessary or can at least be put off for a while.
I have written before that change can feel unpleasant. Forced change can feel even worse. But if you accept that the change is happening, if you stop fighting against it and open up to the possibility that there is a message from this change, then something really lovely might just happen when you least expect it.