Musings on (Working) Motherhood: What if there was enough, and you had done enough?
The other day I was in the middle of another busy work week and I started to feel hurried and rushed. You know when you are mentally going through what you have to get done that day or week, and start to panic, and think “There isn’t enough time!”
As it were, I got through everything, and was sitting on the couch at 9pm that night suddenly realising that there was enough time after all. The concept of lack of time had all been in my head. And that got me to thinking – what if there was always enough of everything? Or if I adopted the “Abundance” mentality instead of the lack mentality?
Time is not the fixed concept we often believe it to be. It’s fluid and dynamic. I think about the busiest people in the world – the leaders of countries, CEOs, mothers of three or more children… How on earth do they achieve what they do every day? Surely there must be enough time – for these highly successful people understand and manage their time in order to get things done. And perhaps it lies in a mental approach to time rather than a particularly clever time-management technique. It lies in not buying into the lack mentality. So I started to repeat a mantra to myself – “There is enough.” Time, that is. And surprisingly, there was always enough time, and I stopped descending into that daily spiral of panic.
As I repeated that mantra, I discovered that it could, and should, be applied to so many other areas of life. When I am working towards goal and find out someone has already done what I want to do (write a book, write a paper, give a talk etc) I start to feel discouraged and insecure. I’m not as intelligent or experiences as this person. I don’t have the contacts. I can’t write as well. I don’t have as much to say. I can’t compete with them. But I have started to put those unhelpful thoughts away and repeat “There is enough space for all of you. You have enough of the qualities to do the same thing. There is enough and you are enough“. This doesn’t mean I don’t aim to improve what I do all the time. It just means I allow myself the confidence to keep aiming for that goal.
As for being a mother, the “enough” mantra is particularly relevant. What my children ate today was enough. What we did together today was enough. I have stopped constantly worrying about whether I should be doing more – reading more stories, brushing teeth for longer, serving more vegetables. It is enough – for today. I have happy, clean children with full tummies, who went to bed knowing they are loved and secure. I have done enough for today. Tomorrow we’ll floss our three-year-old’s teeth.
What if you applied the “Abundance” mentality to everything in your life instead of feeling like there is never enough? What if everything you did was already enough? If you accepted and validated yourself instead of constantly feeling you should be better and that you could do more? Of course we could do more – the sky is the limit when you are striving for excellence in everything – home, work, personal life, physical health. We can and should always be seeking to improve. But sometimes we disable ourselves by the paralysis of low self esteem. Like Sheryl Sandberg says in her book “Lean In”, women especially fail to recognise their achievements and abilities and attribute any success to luck or help from others (usually males). I remember a conversation with some people I met at a recent conference. I was talking with a very nice gentleman who was married to a fellow GP. We got to talking about what I did, and he said to me
“So you’re doing a PhD? And you secured funding from the NhMRC for a clinical trial on acupuncture?”
Yes, I replied.
“And do you still work as a GP?”
Yes, I said, one day a week.
He had a look of admiration on his face.
“And you’ve studied acupuncture as well? And you have two small children – including a young baby?”
Yes, I said.
“Congratulations. Wow. That is amazing! I am so impressed!”
That man validated me the way I never would have to myself. The conversation inside my head is usually derogatory – you didn’t give your children their probiotics again, what a bad mama you are. No wonder they’re always sick. Why are you so forgetful? You haven’t been reading them their bedtime stories. You haven’t been publishing enough papers, you’re no good as a researcher. You forgot to email that person – you made a mistake – you didn’t do this or that. Some time ago I became aware of this voice in my head, and now I’m taking steps to silence my inner critic. I have to believe in myself and my abilities if I am to be successful in anything that I attempt – especially parenting. I have to keep saying “You are enough!”
So, this week, the Working Mummy Mind-set lesson is: There is enough, and you are enough. And to remember these beautiful words from a chapter in “The Success Principles” by Jack Canfield that I read this week, which brought tears to my eyes. Enjoy :)
“I want you to be under oath for the rest of your life and own the magnificent being you are, the positive qualities you have, and the wonderful accomplishments you have achieved”.