Five weeks ago we welcomed our second baby into our lives. Mollie came into this world via emergency c-section and joined her sister Isabella who is 14 months old. It was the most terrifying moment of my life. But I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to experience over the next five weeks.
I’ve never felt more overwhelmed, uncertain, controlled, or pressured in my working life. While my wife focused on recovering and caring for little Mollie, I had to adjust to my new reality. Giving up my old routine and rhythm of working life and instead caring for Isabella and Becky.
I struggled with this shift more than I could have imagined.
I pride myself on being prepared. But I wasn’t prepared for this.
I realised I’ve attached my identity and way of being to my work, and maybe more scarily, to the amount of work I do. Suddenly my mornings and evenings were occupied by something other than my work.
This made me feel uneasy and anxious. I was concerned that I might lose what I’ve dedicated the last six years of my life too.
I became overwhelmed and panicked as I tried to fit as much work as before into half the available time and with less than half the available energy as I had before. On very little sleep, I created more pressure on top of what I already faced trying to care for my growing and vulnerable family.
What I realised last week though was that the most uncomfortable thing from the last five weeks was not the lack of sleep, the lack of time, or the pressure of having to care for two tiny humans and my wife.
The most uncomfortable thing was my inability to accept and embrace the need to slow down.
I like to work.
I think about work when I’m not working.
I’m an active relaxer.
There are very few moments in my life where I take a breather ir break.
It took me five weeks. But when I loosened my grip on some of the constructs of my identity (that I work relentlessly hard) all of a sudden the dark clouds lifted a little.
I felt less overwhelmed, less anxious, and less controlled. I felt more joy and delight as I walked Isabella to and from daycare. I slowed down and walked the long way home from daycare.
I suddenly felt at ease.
I am grateful I’ve been forced to reassess my life’s routines and rhythms and now have some new rituals. That allow me to feel more joy and love than before Mollie arrived.
I promised myself I will be more present for Isabella, Mollie and Becky.
I’m going to share more of my attention with them.
Because what I’ve learned in the past five weeks is that what matters is our attention.
And who we choose to put it on matters.