The internet is broken (come on Virgin) so I’m faced with two options. One: sunbathe in the garden – it is after all the hottest day of the year. Option two is to write a blog. Guess which option won? It’s too hot to sunbathe, anyway, and I’ve been promising myself I’d write this blog ever since my right arm regained some functionality
The thing is, being slightly infirm has made me a nicer person. It honestly has. I always knew, deep down, I needed to slow down and do less, for my sanity and the well-being of those around me. Even as a child I would fantasise about being hit by bus so I could spend a week or two in bed, doing nothing and being looked after. But the force is strong in this one. As long as I can remember I always have to be doing, achieving, ticking off a list. Only then am I allowed to flop on the sofa, glass of wine in hand.
I know I’m not the only mum stuck on this treadmill of self-flagellation, where the faster we run and greater the gradient, the better we feel about ourselves. No pain, no gain. But along with the sense of achievement comes an even stronger crushing guilt that we are letting our family down but not being more present – both emotionally and physically. Holidays are about the only time we get to shake off our stresses and take off our mummy monster suit, for something far more cute and cuddly. But what if life could be less stressful all the time? What if you didn’t have to ‘have it all’ – you settled for a life half lived, in return for a full family life
If you’re a do-er like me, you probably find this a depressing prospect. I certainly did before falling off my horse. Fitting in riding – and competing – on top of all my other daily demands was part of the rush of a living life to the max. Look at how much I can achieve in a day! Look at what a great person I am! Except I wasn’t. I was uptight and I was stressed. The only time I let my guard down was when I was riding – which gave me the warped impression that it was the only way I could be happy.
If I wasn’t riding I felt like I was somehow missing out. So I kept pushing and pushing to do more and, as a result, pushing my family away. I told myself I deserved to spend time alone, which I still stand by. But somehow things had got out of whack. And then I broke my collarbone while competing. And cracked a rib. Which meant an enforced break (no pun intended) from the horse and more time with the family.
And you know what? Doing less has made me calmer. I’m less stressed, I’m more present and I’m pretty sure I’m a better mum and wife. Could it be I suit a simpler, steadier lifestyle? All those years of sneering at people who go slow; who say ‘no’ to doing too much and who protect themselves and their families from stress. Maybe they’re on to something…
I thought I thrived under pressure, but being broken has made me re-evaluate everything. My health, my relationship with my husband, my job as a mother, my obsession with my horse and the way I manage my work. This doesn’t mean I’m going to give up riding. I won’t. Ever. Okay? Like seriously, NEVER. My husband doesn’t want me to give it up either – but I’m determined to find a better balance. For the first time in my life I think that doing less will enable me to enjoy life more.
I realise this isn’t exactly revolutionary, but to me this is a massive shift of mindset. And I don’t think this would have happened if I hadn’t broken a bone or two…
I’m not suggesting working mums should throw themselves off a horse in a bid to find themselves, but it’s definitely cheaper than therapy. At least it is while we’ve still got the NHS…
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