“Make the most of it.”
“Enjoy it while it lasts.”
Ever hear these phrases, or see them in some meaningful picture or video on your newsfeed? Of course you have. Perhaps you’re thinking, I’m sure you’ve said things along those lines on your blog. They are phrases we can say, hear, believe, agree with but I have previously found these kinds of phrases hard to live out. I guess I still do though I have figured a few things out along the way.
I am currently sitting in my chair, in “my space”. I have my first block of three hours’ child-free time this term. I will be having two of these blessed times a week and as it approaches I feel a slight weight of pressure to make the most of it. But how? How do I discern what would be a good use of the time? If it’s productive? If I do something I definitely can’t do with the children in tow, even if I don’t want to do it really? If I sit on my ass and watch crap (qualified by titling it ‘rest’)?
How can you really make the most of something or someone? Really enjoy it/them?
Squeeze your eyes shut and really FEEL the enjoyment feelings… whatever they are. Or wherever they are because what if, in that moment, you are hating what you’re doing or perhaps even, despising the muppet that you do love most of the time, standing in front of you.
How many people were told, preceding their wedding day, how fast it would fly by? I’m hearing you, but what do I do to stop that? Or prevent the inevitable decay of the vivid memories of the day that I then I carried off to my honeymoon, that were then squeezed into the background by new memorable moments. Like nearly getting a ticket from a Mauritian policeman for parking on the wrong side of the road. Well, how were we supposed to know? Ok so every car on this side of the road is facing the opposite direction to our car but…
Or doing a tandem paraglide from a boat. Or swimming with dolphins. Scratch that, I should say – dropping off the side of a boat, sticking my head under water and seeing a group of dolphins swimming beneath me for a nanosecond before the rubbish goggles they gave me filled with water and I came up only to submerge my face again to find they were gone. That. Was. It.
We did see a humpback whale appear out of the ocean not too far off when we sitting waiting for our dolphin friends to turn up, though. Magic.
The weather wasn’t amazing on our honeymoon, not quite as hot as you’d hope and quite breezy and overcast at times. Another classic dumbass holiday experience occurred – we munched through the snacks and used some boiled sweets for poker chips without realising we would be charged such extortionate prices for them. It was a while ago now so I can’t think of how that possibly happened, it seems really stupid. Really stupid. There must have been some reason for the error.
We didn’t even like the boiled sweets. The housekeeping staff must have thought we were so bizarre opening more than one packet just to leave them scattered around in piles ready for our next game. Just flaunting our wealth, we don’t even like these but look what we can do (tear open packets of food we don’t want and jump around amongst them on the bed).
Um, no. We are just THAT stupid.
I don’t list these negatives just because it’s good to ground wonderful experiences with a whinge. It just depicts the reality of the amazing moments in life.
They aren’t 100%, completely and utterly amazing. No one person/object/experience is 100%, completely and utterly amazing and never lets us down. Well, there is one whom, for me, makes life much easier to bear with the highest possible highs, but because we aren’t perfect, walking with God is still a rocky ride.
So, back to my “me time”. I decided I would write but that first, after dropping my daughter at preschool, I would walk for a bit. I wouldn’t give in to that voice that says, you don’t have time for a spot of exercise, you could be writing a bestseller instead! Nope, my time would be good for all three: body, mind and soul. Little did I know…
On the last bit of my walk home a Coldplay song came on called Everglow. I’ve heard this song a few times now but not really picked up the lyrics and a line jumped out at me…
you’re with me wherever I go
and you give me this feeling this everglow
I was suddenly arrested by thoughts of my Dad, my loss, the change, the lasting impression of him. It was powerful and painful.
I walked in the house and made coffee. Got all my bits and pieces and came up to my space. All of a sudden, I didn’t want to be productive. I wanted to get into bed and wallow. Read a novel and escape perhaps. I looked up the lyrics and the whole song is about a special person who has gone, I put it on and in this moment, I had no child who needed me, no immediate task that couldn’t wait. It is a scary place to be. To be permitted to face up to the pain.
I played the song and accepted that part of making the most of this time today should mean allowing the feelings to overwhelm me for a moment. To dip under the surface and feel the darkness. To release it. I threw my glasses onto the computer and cried deeply, looking at my Dad’s photo, feeling the desperate desire to see him again and hear his voice. All at once feeling pain, shock and intense anguish.
Then I stopped. I wiped my face and got on.
This week I have been very tired, my mouth has been ulcer-city again and my daughter waking frequently at 4am. I found it hard to cope with the demands of my children and the draining job of behavior management. I think I can have a bit of a raw deal with a rather vivacious three-year-old. Yesterday he hooped (when one puts a hula hoop around a person) a grown man and tried to pull him along. I warned him that this was the last time I wanted to tell him no and if I had to again we would leave, I sensed in myself I had reached the end of my tether in this vulnerable social situation. I carry on talking to my friends, not taking my eyes off him for long. I turn back at one point to find him hitting same Dad with a space hopper, on his head. So we left. He is fearless. It’s something I have a love/hate relationship with and on the one hand try to fiercely protect but on the other hand, it leads to feelings of humiliation, frustration and severe bouts of anxiety when another human person is within five feet of us.
Something I’m sure many other mothers beat themselves up about, like me, is not “making the most” of these days with their kids. It flies by, we are told, and we know it. We do. However, it doesn’t change the fact that we want to smash windows with our foreheads to vent our frustration sometimes. I’m learning that, in amongst the particularly tough weeks where I feel I am just trying to get through the days, as I do make the choice to look at their faces and smile and soak in the sound of their voices, even if it’s just once, then that’s enough.
When I got my daughter ready to take her to preschool for her first full session without me there I realised that this was one of those momentous moments in her little life. I took some snaps of her standing by the door with her backpack on and her penguin hat. I felt that blend of joy and sorrow at this evidence of the passage of time. Just before I opened the front door, I turned back to pick up some rubbish for the outside bin and she said, “come on Mum!” As we got outside she said, “let’s go Mum!” Such grown up words for a nearly two-year-old and I melted.
She wanted to walk so we left early, took our time and this is how I “made the most of” a moment with her…
I didn’t think about my “me time” and what I would do. I held her hand and thought about the feeling of her soft skin under my thumb as I rubbed her hand the whole way. I felt my intense love for her and how much I enjoyed just being with her. I focused on my breathing every now and then; this was a living, breathing moment I was in, right then. I felt the pavement under my step and heard the cars driving past. We didn’t speak, just walked.
What did I achieve in that? It was essentially mindfulness.
Well, I created a memory. The problem with distraction from the moment is that when we don’t use all our senses to take it in, we will forget it. What is on a device won’t go anywhere. But that moment, an experience or person, is unique, intangible, fleeting.
Regret is a waste of energy, of life, of opportunity. Energy better spent living in THIS moment. So don’t bother with that.
What moment have you truly lived in today?
EVERGLOW by Coldplay
oh they say people come, say people go
this particular diamond was extra special
and though you might be gone, and the world may not know
still I see you, celestial
like a lion you ran, a goddess you rolled
like an eagle you circled, in perfect purple
so how come things move on, how come cars don’t slow
when it feels like the end of my world
when I should but I can’t let you go?
but when I’m cold, cold
oh when I’m cold, cold
there’s a light that you give me when I’m in shadow
there’s a feeling you give me, an everglow
like brothers in blood, sisters who ride
and we swore on that night we’d be friends til we die
but the changing of winds, and the way waters flow
life as short as the falling of snow
and now I’m gonna miss you I know
but when I’m cold, cold
in water rolled, salt
I know that you’re with me and the way you will show
and you’re with me wherever I go
and you give me this feeling this everglow
oh- I I I I
what I wouldn’t give for just a moment to hold
yeah I live for this feeling this everglow
so if you love someone, you should let them know
oh the light that you left me will everglow
Watch it performed live here.