I didn’t sleep well last night. I got this idea for a bit of art work I wanted to try, I got stomach cramps, our youngest kept waking up, it was cold.
I could have got up in the middle of the night to try out the art project, would actually have quite enjoyed it. However, I was stopped by the thoughts of ‘that will screw you up for tomorrow because you’ll be tired’. Well, guess what! Thinking about it is not conducive to sleep either.
I couldn’t do much about the stomach cramps, except find a comfy position. I kept thinking. This is because I had a double whisky before bed, which no doubt makes me a near alcoholic and bad mother. I actually ate a lot of dried fruit left over from making the Xmas cake last week, so this may have had a bit to do with it. That was not such an alarming thought though, so I was not very concerned with it. Better to decide I am In Moral Decline, given the many arresting possibilities for drama.
Waking baby kept crawling out of her sleeping bag and from under her duvet, getting cold, and fussing. She is probably teething too. You can safely blame teething for a lot. I was really bleary and did not change her into warmer clothes or a better sleeping bag. I didn’t want to run the risk of waking her up more than she already was, and really I had got to the ‘oh please just go to sleep or let me lie here quiet next to you and not move’ stage of night waking. So, I just tucked her in again. And again. And again.
In the early hours of the morning, I was drifting off again and she decided she wanted to breastfeed. A lot. So, on we went through to morning. The older children both woke from their dreams too.
It was chilly. I could have made a hot water bottle, or put on some warm blankets. Again, I was at the ‘oh please just let me lie here until life improves’ stage.
I kept thinking. I will be sooo tired tomorrow. I need some sleeeeeeeeeep. Ooh, but that’s a fab idea for a picture. My stomach is sore. Detox time, you reprobate. Here, I go. Mmm. Slleeeeeepppp. Nope. Waking baby. Aaargh. How will i ever night wean her? I will be ssooo tired. Forever. Tired.
I woke up in a not very brilliant state of mind and late. The kids were cold and dragging feet over getting ready. There was some dangerous swinging about with a toy broom, which husband dealt with in a very fair and zen manner. The broom was put in the car to be taken to school for show and tell type activity. I was exhausted and trying to work out my day. What to do, where to go, who to see, but I couldn’t get my head around it. Rather than looking forward to all the possibilities of a child-free day, I was seeing a million things to do and not enough time to do them. Instead, I told husband he was in a bad mood. He wasn’t. Then, said I wanted to sit in a heap and cry. I didn’t. I got ready to take the kids to school.
We all piled in the car and I removed the broom from our eldest’s hands because it was being swung again. This resulted in a torrent of protest, to which I was not really listening, because I was saying that you can’t drive while having a broom swung about. Then, I realised that the car window was stuck half way down, which had happened the day before, but I had forgot about. So, the morning plan became going to the mechanic, which eliminated a whole load of thinking about other stuff, and I started to calm down. I listened to eldest daughter’s argument that she wasn’t swinging the broom, but using it as an imaginary bell to ding ding. I didn’t give her it back as I was concerned about being distracted by said broom while driving, but she was mollified by being heard. We continued in better spirits.
As I walked back to the car after dropping the kids off, I realised that thinking about doing stuff is really unhelpful: You can only do one or two things at a time, and you can only do one well. Thinking creates noise, not productivity. Either the time is ripe for an idea or it is not. It is the moment to get down to something or it is not. It is not good thinking about exciting new projects, or adopting healthier attitudes, or bad thinking about self-criticism, or over-dramatising broom related injury. It is all thinking. None of it is helpful unless the mind and the moment are in the same place.
Committing to what you are doing in the immediate, and only having that on your mind frees up a lot of energy. Things seem clear. It is easy to see, now that my mood is improved, that being in the moment would have helped me to wrap me and baby girl up warmer, to make us comfy, to drift off to sleep. That was what that moment required, and the only thing I could do without actually getting up or travelling in time. I was too tired to realise that because of all the other thinking I was doing, and was fighting a self-defeating battle.
It is easy to imagine that thinking about ideas helps you to complete projects, or thinking about improvements helps you to live a healthier life, or thinking about strategy helps you to raise your kids. It doesn’t. In fact, it often gets in the way of these things. It prompts us to make bad choices in order to ‘cope’ with our thinking. Like I did this morning, you get stuck in a grumpy place with too much noise, too much to do, and no time. You cannot seize the day, cannot go with the flow. The calm alternative is to focus on what, if anything, should be done in the present moment, and to take life one step at a time.