“You should be having the time of your life”; “these are the best days of your life”. Have you heard these expressions?
I am lucky enough to spend time with new mothers who have just had babies. It can be an exciting time, and it can also be full of anxiety and stress. There are so many new things to learn, from feeding and nappy changing to how to find time for yourself and for your partner.
A mum I saw last week told me that she felt under additional stress because she had been told to enjoy her time with her baby as it goes so fast. She wasn’t enjoying life at the moment, but felt the pressure to make the most of it because her baby would not be a baby for long.
The best days of your life
There seem to be a number of phases in life that others describe as the best years, or the time that you can enjoy the most. Some people describe childhood in these terms, and others feel this way about university. Perhaps they think these times are carefree and without the weight of having to support yourself financially on your shoulders. Of course, university students have far more financial pressures these days than in times gone by. Does this mean they are less likely to be able to appreciate the time they have there?
Others say that the years you may spend with a partner before children are to be cherished, as are those when your children are not yet at school. But does that mean that if you don’t enjoy these times as much as people think you should, you are failing in some way?
So, what happens if you are not enjoying yourself, or if it is not as fabulous as it is supposed to be? Have you wasted your time? Or are you missing the point, somehow?
Missing the point
I think that part of what the mother I mentioned was talking about was the opinion of someone who had forgotten what it was like to have a baby. This person had moved out of the phase of sleepless nights and constant nappy changes, and saw something slightly different reflected back in the mirror. Of course, this person may also have had a perfect child who slept on cue and was a pleasure to be with at all times, which is not the experience of many new parents.
Perhaps we do all miss the point at times. Perhaps we wish our lives away. Perhaps we think the next stage will be easier, only to find that actually the new phase seems to have more challenges than the previous one. Finding a peace within ourselves that it is okay not to enjoy everything may be more beneficial than berating ourselves for not having had enough fun.
Some of us are filled with worries about life in general. Adding the worry of not enjoying life enough can be counter-productive if we don’t have strategies of how to improve this. I will leave you with this challenge:
At bedtime, if you are not so tired that you sleep the second your head hits the pillow, remind yourself of at least one good thing that happened today. Take it to your heart, be thankful for it, and try to remember it when times are tough the next day. This way, you will fill yourself with happy memories that you can bring to mind more easily when you are down or feeling the pressure. It will help you to remember that life is worth living.
Push away the negative thoughts, and allow yourself to be filled with the joy of previous occasions. It is okay not to enjoy every minute of every phase of life. That is normal. Just try and keep the precious moments to hand for the darker times. They will help to bring you through.
Have you had an experience of finding it difficult to enjoy a phase of your life?
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