My 18-month-old daughter does this thing every time I want to make food or a cup of coffee where she walks into the kitchen whining, with arms outstretched, wanting to be held. And until I hold her, she clings to my legs and whines louder. This often escalates into full on sobs and throwing herself around the kitchen in what appears to be profound distress.
She’ll be playing perfectly happily downstairs on her own with her dad, lying on the couch reading, but the minute I come onto the scene it’s meltdown city.
These are not moments I savor. These are not moments I’m going to miss one day. These are the moments I wish would go faster, in fact. (Well-intentioned mothers of older children tell me to enjoy every moment, but the truth is, I just don’t. Some moments of motherhood are not enjoyable.)
Occasionally I have the presence of mind to do something different in these moments of kitchen chaos.
I let go of my agenda, sit down on the kitchen floor, pull my girl onto my lap, look her in the eye, and breathe. This rarely makes her stop crying or thrashing around. In fact, sometimes it continues for 20 minutes or more.
But getting present with what is right there, rather than clinging to what I wish it were, makes the moment instantly easier.
I’m still hungry and craving coffee. She’s still feeling really big feelings in a tiny body.
What’s different, though, is that I’m no longer adding friction to an already grating scenario by resisting the reality.
I don’t remember to (or want to) do this every day. There are plenty of days that I plow through with my own agenda and curse every moment of wailing while I sauté the mushrooms.
And there’s the occasional day when my surrender actually does calm Penelope down, and suddenly she’s off to the next activity, not caring what I’m doing.
But if I need or expect her to be different and make my letting go about that, I know it won’t work. Then I’m just hooked to a whole new agenda, priming myself for inevitable disappointment.
I have never felt as out of control as I have since becoming a mother. It’s so hard for me to let go of how I want things to be.
But when I do it, when I get down on the floor with her and breathe, I can sit in the chaos and enjoy the fact that what I do have control over is my attachment to things needing to be different. And when I can unhook from this need, things get easier without anything actually needing to change.
It’s still messy. It’s still not what I want to be doing. But it is easier. And I’ll take it.
What do you do when you’re in a situation you wish were different but you have no control over changing? Have you also found things get easier, even though they’re the same, when you let go of your expectations? I’d love to know about it in the comments!
P.S. Ever sat glued to your computer screen trying to ignore your incredibly full bladder for an hour or two?
Ever lie on the bathroom floor at work in massive pain with menstrual cramps because taking a day of rest didn’t feel like an option?
We’ve all been taught that our bodies are a hinderance to our productivity. There’s a billion-dollar industry devoted to seriously dampening, and even silencing, our bodies’ signals.
Our culture has become profoundly disconnected from the fact that there’s an entire universe going on below our necks.
Watch the video below to find out how your body and its innate wisdom can fuel your productivity and how to use it as a guide to thrive in business.