Illustration by Deborah Panesar ©
When I became a mother I knew that I would learn life lessons but I never anticipated how much they would filter in to other aspects of my life.
I liked to keep my ‘mother’ label mostly separate from my ‘freelance’ label, because I was almost defiant that I didn’t want to be defined as only a mother. I also didn’t want to share photos of Ophelia because she was such a special part of my life, that I selfishly treasured for my own, so it didn’t feel right to put her up on the internet everyday.
My PND also had me scared to be too vulnerable. I was afraid my followers would think I had given up on illustration, or that everyday I was going to be posting more and more content that they hadn’t signed up for.
Really though, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I still don’t greatly like sharing too many photos of Ophelia online (she can tell me when she’s older if she’s happy for me to share) but I have done a full 180 on how I feel about being too vulnerable/sharing personal content.
I cannot deny that this little human has changed me. She has shown me so much that I had forgotten in becoming an adult, and made me self aware as a friend, wife, daughter and sister. So I wanted to pay homage to that in a new blog series, showcasing some of the good, bad and ugly stuff that she has taught me in her short but wise life (so far).
#1 Rushing is futile
If you have a small child, it goes without saying that you’re guaranteed to be late for a lot of stuff. With so much to remember (especially when they’re really small, it’s like packing for a mini break) as well as making sure they have enough layers/options for weather/things to go to sleep with. You can guarantee they’ll fill their nappy right before you get out the door.
I spent a lot of time getting crazy frustrated with Ophelia; Why is she doing this to me? Why can’t she sit still? Why does she now decide to get upset about the shoes I’ve put on her feet?
Thing is she isn’t doing anything to me. Toddlers and babies have no concept of time so it is literally impossible for her to know that she’s making me late.
Really, I’m making myself crazy frustrated; I’m frustrated at myself for not giving myself enough time and I’m frustrated that I’m going to be turning up to wherever I’m going to as a palpitating, hot sweaty mess.
Yes, rushing is futile. The more I rush, the more stressed I get. The more stressed I get the more I forget. The more I forget the more cross I get at myself, and the more cross I get the sweatier I get (you see a sweaty pattern here?!).
So i’ve decided to stop rushing, in more aspects than one.
I’ve stopped rushing emails. Rushed emails have tons of mistakes and I know half the time they don’t make sense and I have probably not even attached the work I needed to send to the client.
I’ve stopped rushing work. If I have to put in a few more hours, then so be it. I’m not going to rush the quality of my work just because I now need to balance being a full time mum as well.
I’ve stopped rushing conversations. Nothing says ‘I’m not interested in what you have to say’ than when you have one eye on your phone for that email notification and one ear on your husband who is just trying to have a conversation with you after a long day.
I’ve stopped rushing my to-do list. This one’s a biggie. I used to think it was how much I got done rather than how good I got those things done. Quality over quantity > Quantity over quality. I’m now a little more accepting if I just get 1 thing done off my to-do list, so long as I’ve done it to the best of my ability and I feel confident that it’s finished.
Most importantly, I’ve stopped rushing Ophelia. She’s at an incredible age where the world is magic and everything that we see as mundane is a new discovery. I try my very best to give her the time to explore those little things, even if it’s a pine cone, a bus stop or to stand and wave to the man in the van. It really isn’t always possible, all the time, because sometimes I really do need to be somewhere! But it’s a goal I can strive for.
When I feel the need to rush well up in me, and I’m watching the hands on the clock move but my daughter isn’t, then I just try and take a very deep breath and think fuck it.
I’ll get there at some point, but right now is pretty good.