HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON
Recently, it has really dawned on me how important it is to hit the pause button. Life is crazy busy and frankly, it doesn’t matter what stage your kids are in. The type of busy just evolves. While I talked about this a lot in The Sport of Busy post a few months back, today my focus is on specific motherhood moments to hit the pause button.
Pausing sounds so cliché. AMIRIGHT?!?! Those overheard conversations where another woman talks about how amazing it is for refreshing herself with the pause button…. I know. Easy Karen, keep on moving to your yoga class. Enough already with the Namaste talk.
First off, I’m kidding. It is absolutely important to hit the pause for ourselves. Even though I’m joking about it, my intent is not to undermine the value. However, I want to talk about three specific hit the pause button moments for motherhood. For me, those have become snuggle, sharing, and laughing moments.
Full disclosure, I was struggling a bit about how to make this come from a place that didn’t sound braggadocios. We are far from perfection on this end. In fact, I have a real fear of any of my writing sounding like I’m trying to brag about something we do right without balancing with the real, raw, far from perfect moments.
Then this morning happened. We headed to church and I was annoyed with Jake, he was annoyed with Bryce, Bryce was annoyed with Jeremy, and Jeremy was annoyed with me. We sat down in church and the irritation was palpable. Then the annoyance made a shift, not to forgiveness, but rather like a slow, squeaky wheel reversing in direction. Meaning me annoyed with Jeremy, Jeremy annoyed with Bryce, Bryce annoyed with Jake, and Jake annoyed with me. As I sat there trying to keep my cool, I laughed to myself and thought, “there it is!” This is the back to reality moment to talk to you guys about. The balance if you will.
The below discussion is about moments in time. Not all the time. Not a mindset you can have 24/7. So, my point is about pausing in THAT moment and enjoying it. Figuring out ways for yourself to hit the pause button in special motherhood moments unique to you. Furthermore, knowing it’s not going to be all the time and THAT IS OKAY!
SHIFTING THE MINDSET- ALLOW YOURSELF TO PAUSE
My kids are now almost 11 and 8 AND A HALF. Never forget the half at this age. Admittedly, I did not consciously do a lot of pausing to savor the snuggling, sharing, and laughing moments until recently. It should be noted, I absolutely enjoyed them so please don’t think they were all just fleeting moments not burned into memory. But on the other hand, I don’t feel I was as intentionally present as I am now. There were always thoughts of what NEEDED TO BE DONE next coursing through my mind, for instance. Pulling my attention away from what was right in front of me in the moment.
Before you think I just tossed my to do list out the window and have closed my mind from wandering, let’s be clear. I still have both. And they rear their heads at inopportune times when I really want to be fully present.
I’ve mentioned this journey I have been on over the last year and the first main lesson out of this has been to SLOW….. DOWN…… This is tough for someone who has literally been compared to Judy Hopps, the rabbit in Zootopia dealing with a sloth at the license branch. For real. Even so, let’s hit the pause button.
SNUGGLE MOMENTS- HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON
This past Monday was President’s Day. I had full intention of getting up and doing at least an hour of writing before a couple of coaching calls. However, Bryce curled up next to me and said, “we should relax and snuggle for a while Mom since we don’t have school.” Music to my ears! I had a smack me in the face realization as he curled up and pulled my arm around him. This isn’t going to last much longer. (cue the tears!)
We snuggled and giggled about something on the tv and I didn’t think about the growing list of things on my to do list. Not about the dishwasher needing cleared out or even the piles of laundry waiting for me since we went to parties all weekend instead of taking care of house chores. I literally hit the pause button and stayed present in this precious moment with my 8-year-old.
This sounds all well and good, but it hasn’t always been this way. Even though I may have stayed and snuggled, it would have been in mental turmoil. Knowing what my heart wanted to do but also knowing my brain wouldn’t allow this pause.
HOW DO WE HIT THE PAUSE?
Rewire the brain. While there is a ton of research out there suggesting how to rewire the brain, I literally had to find what worked for me. First off, it required me segmenting time for certain things. Allowing space for various pieces of life instead of trying to multitask.
Second, I had to be willing to compromise. Adaptability is huge. Things are going to pop up and what good is being annoyed. Conversely, adapt and compromise. Call the audible in your schedule and move on.
This didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it’s still a work in progress and frankly, it has taken a good year to be mediocre at it. But I learned something over the last year. Not only am I more at peace when I’m being intentional, adaptable, and not trying to multitask. But also, I’m more productive. Weird, I know!
When the thought pops into my mind during snuggle time of the “should be doings,” I’ve started to acknowledge it, make a mental note to add a section of time for the task, and then set it to the side. For me, this works. Something about the act of setting the thought to the side versus trying to push it away allows my brain to realize it’s not in conflict with me anymore but rather just needs its own space. Therefore, honoring the busy body in me while still honoring a snuggle session with my sweet boy!
SHARING MOMENTS- HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON
I’ve recently talked to a few friends about this stage of 11-year-olds we’re in. I’m unclear if it’s a change in my approach or the age, but regardless he has begun sharing more. In particular, in the car. We spend a lot of time there to and from all of their activities, as I’m sure you do too!
We talk about what’s been going on for him with school, with other kids, and in sports. Additionally, he has taken an interest in my new business ventures, even asked some very thought provoking questions about starting a business, coaching, and people’s thoughts and feelings.
First off, this has been kind of a shocking evolution. Previously, the standard answers of “fine” or “I don’t know” or “we didn’t do anything today” were a regular part of the vocabulary when discussing school or any subject for that matter. And before you think I’m a miracle worker, there are ABSOLUTELY still days where this is the standard answer!
The evolution of sharing I do believe has come down to being present. He wasn’t falling for the half-in, half-out conversation. The distracted responses. The multitasking.
Ultimately, something crazy has happened here too. The more I’ve been present in discussion with him, he then goes off doing his own thing and becomes less needy. I don’t feel guilt over being half-in, half-out so I move on to the next thing without negative feelings and freeing up more time and mental space. Another win-win.
LAUGHING MOMENTS- HIT THE PAUSE BUTTON
I have funny kids. They are obviously still trying to figure out what is funny and what is not. Humor can be confusing! Furthermore, figuring out where to draw the line after making an initial funny can be a challenge! Yep, lots of those.
But just like the sharing moments, the laughing moments have become more frequent. They absolutely say inappropriate things. Right or wrong, I’m probably laughing at it.
As someone who lost their own mother too early in life, I often think about the things I want my kids to remember about me. In my own life, I remember the fun times with my mom. Obviously, there were some not so fun times too and lessons I had to learn. But those aren’t where my mind goes with memories. It’s the fun we had.
Subsequently, I want to live life in a way my kids are going to remember how their mom had a great sense of humor and always laughed with them.
Others may want different characteristics remembered by their children and that’s great! My point is to be conscious about it. Hit the pause button when you are in the moment so it can not only burn into your memory, but theirs as well.
YOU CAN GET THIS PAUSE THING DOWN
For each awesome moment or conversation we have in the above stories, we have an equal number of tough ones. Times where I blow up because they are being ungrateful or not listening. Times they blow up because someone pissed in their Cheerios (figuratively not literally… I think). Please don’t read this through comparison eyes to your own life. Read it from a place of curiosity and potentially noting some things to try.
The key is, hit the pause button. Take the mental snapshot of your child in a moment you want to cherish. Be in a fully present state versus pulled in twenty mental directions. Do what it takes to figure out what that means for you.
- Rewire the brain. For me segmenting time for certain things seems to be working!
- Resist the urge to multitask. You may just find you are actually more productive NOT doing it.
- Becoming more present in a moment could ultimately lead to not only more time, but also less mental turmoil.
- Figuring out the key moments important to you is a good place to start in the recognition of where you want to pause.
I gave some suggestions but only you can figure it out for yourself. It takes trial and error. Additionally, it takes commitment.
All I can say is, you’ll be glad you hit the pause button.
To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn’t come with guarantees—these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But I’m learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude, and grace. -Brene’ Brown