This reality – that being a mom never ends – really hit home this Summer.
I struggled to keep my attention on work as my house filled back up with returning college kids and high schoolers on Summer break.
This would be my first Summer after deciding earlier in the year to prioritize building my business.
As Summer approached, I was confident that the balance I had created between managing my household and working on my business was in flow and would easily continue throughout the Summer.
What I did not account for was the intense pull of mothering and how it would wreak havoc on my resolve to stay focused on my work.
I do not have young children. My household is filled with self-sufficient, totally capable individuals.
They were not the problem.
The real problem was with me and the way I ignored the reality of how being a mom impacts my point of focus. For me mothering has naturally drawn my attention outward toward my children so that I can attend to their needs.
The quality of their needs has changed over the years such that now my role as mom it is more centered in managing logistics of transportation and necessary appointments, completing paperwork, listening and offering advice upon request, setting and monitor adherence to house rules, keeping the house stocked with food and supplies, and creating a warm home environment.
So guess what happens when there are more kids in the house for longer periods of time during Summer break? More logistics, more groceries to shop, more monitoring and all with greater frequency – just more things on which to focus. Combine that with a recently diagnosed attention disorder, eventually the well established routine goes out the window.
I alternated between feeling distressed that I was losing focus and momentum in the work part of my life, while having SO MUCH fun just being with my kids, mothering them and creating a joyful, cozy space for us at home.
So for a while I fluctuated back and forth – Distress – Joy – Distress – Joy – until the back and forth eventually became overwhelming.
THEN it occurred to me – this is not the way things are all the time, but I am always a mother and there is a way that I like to engage as a mother when my kids are around.
Instead of struggling between the two, I decided to surrender to the reality that I am a mother with most of my kids home for a portion of the year (one is out on his own now) and I LOVE mothering the way that I do. By surrendering to this part of myself, I gave myself permission to soften my focus on work for a month and enjoy this opportunity to do what I love, the way that I love to do it while I can.
By softening my focus on work, I mean that I just did the essentials, things to which I had previously committed and a reduced writing and coaching schedule. Funny thing is, I coach a lot of moms, who – surprise, surprise – were spending time with their kids too. So my schedule was naturally less full in that respect.
This wasn’t about choosing between family and work.
It was about surrendering to the natural flow of life, which for me at this time included mothering kids home for Summer.
What a relief it was to give myself permission to work with life rather than push against it.
Despite the relief of surrender and the sense of letting go, there has to be intention behind it.
Society doesn’t encourage us to surrender to life’s natural flow. We are encouraged to be consistent, work hard, do more and have it all. It tells us – DO NOT take your foot off the pedal when you are trying to build a business or advance in your career, or learn a new skill, etc..
The truth is that sometimes it is useful to keep pushing, and sometimes it is NOT. Knowing when it is not requires an intention to pay attention to your experience and whether it feels like an exciting challenge (with a little fear mixed in) or a distressing struggle.
In a state of struggle, it is harder to focus, even on the things that we know require our attention. Struggling is counterproductive. So, when it is feeling like a struggle, it is time to stop pushing and go with the flow. Instead of trying to paddle upstream against fast moving rapids, take the oars out of the water, and ride the current until you get to a calm pool where you can put the oars back in. With everyone back in school, I am now putting my oars back in and I am excited for the challenge!
This of course doesn’t only apply to being a mother.
We all have areas of our lives that require different levels of focus at different times. Rather than listening to all those voices saying “Keep pushing. You can have it all and do it all right now.” and instead listen to the rhythm of our own lives, we could easily choose to surrender when necessary and work with the flow rather than against it.