The Prize Of The Present

Pardon the silence. I was busy wrapping my head around all that’s going on in the world right now. We’ve spent the last few days preparing ourselves for a potential lockdown, making sure that the rest of our families are safe and have all they need. We’ve been socially distancing ourselves, laying low and figuring out how to organise our days so that Kate is entertained and we both have our space, too.

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while now and have finally found the right words (and the time) to do so. Not only does it resonate greatly with my own experience of motherhood, and that of many other mother’s I have encountered, but it also seems fitting.

It is not uncommon for a new mother to feel that her world has flipped upside down. Days and nights merge and feel exhaustingly long. The overwhelming loneliness jars with the strong desire to actually be alone. The bursting love brightly contrasting against the dark anxiety that builds in the quiet moments. You find yourself in awe of what your body just did, yet you’re equally unhappy about the parts of you that have grown, stretched and sagged.

It can be a very confusing time and amidst the confusion are the questions.

What now? What’s next? When will it pass? When will it get easier?

It will only be a matter of time before the new mother begins to look for the answer to these questions. There might be actual research. There will be many comparisons. Even some unsolicited advice that might start to weigh down on her. Then she’ll gather this information and formulate her own answers, creating something to aim towards.

In my experience, I spun on a carousel of different answers:

…when she gets a little older.

…when she moves past this sleep regression.

…when she’s sleeping in her own room.

…when I go back to work.

…when we wean her.

…when she’s sitting/crawling/walking.

I found myself always aiming for something. A stage that would arrive and turn my world back right way round.

What I didn’t realise at the time was that my world was already right way around, I just wasn’t seeing it. I was completely missing the wood for the trees. I was focusing so closely on the details, that I couldn’t see the bigger picture if it slapped me right in the face.

The bigger picture was that I was not getting any of my days with Kate back. That each day, regardless of how exhausted I was, was the only one of its kind. That each hour that passed was an hour that faded into memory the moment it was over.

My “right now”s were becoming “back then”s and I wasn’t even noticing.

I was so focused on the path ahead that I was missing the preciousness of the present.

If I’m honest, I couldn’t tell you when this changed. When I realised all of this. Somedays I feel I am still guilty of looking at parenting that way – goal oriented. But it’s gotten a lot better, and I am reminded of how far we’ve come by what’s going on today.

Right now a large portion of the world is stockpiling toilet paper, packing pantries and holing up indoors. Events are being cancelled, kids are off school and many people are scratching their heads. What now? What’s next? When will it pass? When will it get easier?

They’re the same questions, asked for entirely different reasons.

What happens when you’re so used to looking towards the future and it suddenly grinds to a halt?

All I can offer is the lesson I’ve learned.

Whether you’re coming to terms with your new normal as a parent…or as a person on the verge of a potential lockdown…or both. Focus on the now. Take each moment as it comes. Be present and thankful for each little thing. Slow down, in every sense of the word, and be mindful of all your “right now”s that are quickly becoming “back then”s.

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