July 4, 2013

When it’s Time to Put on the Brakes. ~ Dana Gornall

“As mothers, our greatest gift to our family is our true presence…it is our being that makes all the difference.”

~ Denise Roy, MOMfulness: Mothering with Mindfulness, Compassion and Grace

I have a friend that used to participate in bike races. He told me a story of a time he was training for a race; he was riding and so focused on the speed and his body that as he approached a road he could see a truck getting ready to cross in front of him.

Not wanting to slow down or stop, for just a split second he thought if he went fast enough he could pass through the truck.

His mind had transcended reality in that second and if he went with it, the result could have been fatal. Luckily, he came to his senses and quickly put on the brakes. Heart beating fast and sweat dripping, he watched the truck fly by and realized just maybe he was training too hard.

I have never raced bikes, but I can relate to his story.

As a working mom, I have put myself under a great deal of pressure to live up to a certain standard; I never wanted to fall short of anything. I took my job seriously and always had a strong work ethic. Becoming a mother was life changing and so in my pursuit to be a great mom, I raised the bar even higher—I felt like if I didn’t excel, then I failed.

This attitude can be a set up for burnout.

I can remember getting my children ready for preschool and daycare one morning. I was flying through the house trying to give them a healthy breakfast, be sure they were clean and dressed and attempting to make myself presentable. (I had been struggling with this process and sometimes arriving late to work—lack of sleep from burning the candle at both ends left me exhausted, cranky and stressed.)

Grabbing their lunch boxes and their backpacks, I ran outside to load up the car. I yelled for them to get their shoes on but when I ran back in the house, my four year old son told me he couldn’t find his other shoe. Panic set in and I could feel my skin tighten, blood rush to my head my hair stand on end.

I was in fight or flight mode.

Suddenly I was like a superhero, dashing up the stairs taking two at a time. I ripped through the bathroom and laundry basket and found the missing shoe! I raced back down the stairs, with my soaking wet hair flying behind me and  jumped the last step. My foot collided with my son’s head which smacked into the door frame.

There was a pause, and then a wail. I am ashamed to say that my first thought was not of concern for my son—my thought was shit, I am going to be late.

My hands were shaking from the adrenaline rush and my heart was pounding a slow hard beat like a drum. I stood there, with the extra shoe in my hand, and just stared at my son’s tears streaming down his face. My two year old daughter also began to cry. For a couple of seconds, the only thing I could think was how to get them quickly in the car and on the road.

Standing there, I took a deep breath and realized what I had become; I picked up my son and kissed his boo-boo, and apologized for a being a crazy mommy.

I knew I needed to slow down; my priorities had gotten out of whack.

Haven’t we all felt this at some point? You have your mind so focused on some silly goal that you lose sight of what is important. While I am not suggesting we blow off our jobs or other pressing issues, do we want to become a crazed lunatic that neglects the things or people that really matter?

I’ve felt this many times as a parent, and when I do, I realize it’s time to pause and re-prioritize. This single-pointed blindness has the potential to not only hurt you, but everyone we love.

Since that day, I try to recognize the signs that lead up to this. When I feel myself getting frazzled and overwhelmed, I make a point of walking away or shutting off the computer. I remind myself that I am human and I can’t be everything to everyone in every situation—it is okay to take breaks or occasionally say no.

I make time for the things that feed my soul, like yoga and activities I enjoy with my family, like walks in the park. I tell myself it is okay that I didn’t vacuum today or that I didn’t get a load of laundry in the wash.

I make a point of slowing down because I don’t want to miss these crucial years of my children growing up—I want to be there for them when they need me.

Life is short; if you see a truck in your path, be sure to stop.

Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that being a real superhero is also being present.

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Ed: Bryonie Wise

{Photo: via Pinterest}


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