Wednesday, 24 December 2014

The essence of calm

I've been thinking about this for a while, off and on. Mainly because, if you were to consider what the essence of calm is, you would probably look for the opposite of me.

It's not really a Christmas thought, but this Advent had thrown it into sharper focus.

I've always wanted to be one of those graceful people, the ones who are likened to a swan. Me? While my legs are paddling frantically under the water too, unfortunately you can tell by all the splashing. And my face is all red and splotchy. And I'm exuding a kind of mild panic and chaos that has most sane people avoiding me, lest they catch the 'do-too-much-in-not-enough-time-and-badly' lurgy.

After agreeing to do too much this Christmas, as usual, and having more than a few concerned texts post seeing me (you'd never ask to my face...)  checking if I'm ok because I 'seem a bit stressed', I've started to think about this from a parenting perspective.

On becoming a parent, I re-evaluated a lot of my less positive traits - bad language, bad temper, bad moods - because I didn't want my daughter learning these things as part of her 'how to be a human' study. And I definitely didn't want her developing her own bad traits as a result of my poor self-control.

That's all a work in progress on its own, and I seem to be adding more and more character traits to my list of things to do better. But what of the 'do-too-much' syndrome? The headless-chicken behaviour? I wonder now if that is yet another trait I need to try to improve on. Is an air of chaos really something I want to teach her?

In my last job, before having my girl, I had a wonderful CEO - a visionary, who inspired and motivated everyone. And who had everyone in a fluster the moment she walked into the office. To try and protect those I lead from the immediate feeling of stress that accompanied every new business venture, I made as much effort as I could to push away my own tendency to flap. I tried to be a buffer between the chaotic brilliance of the idea and the methodical carrying out of the tasks needed to make it all happen. This was completely counter-me, but it was worth the effort to act against my natural tendencies - my team was much happier.

So, if I was able to make this much effort for my team, my workplace, surely I should be able to pour much more into setting an example for my little munchkin?

The wonderful Susan Sarandon playing Marmee -
look at that wise expression!
I have often struggled to be the person I want to be. When I was younger, I used to imagine Marmee from 'Little Women' sitting me down and telling me that I was 'more intent on reshaping [my] dear little nose then on fashioning [my] character!' That said (to Amy, actually), I always related most to Jo, being louder and larger than life while wanting to be - no, wanting to want to be - gentle and ladylike, but finding my own character fighting against it.

Now, I'm a 'Marmee' myself, I need to be doing the telling, not being told. I need to be the example to follow, not the mess being gently corrected. Oh dear.

So I guess I'll add 'being calm' to my list of character traits to work on. I'll gently correct myself (or at least try not to berate myself too severely) every time I catch myself flurrying around like a whirling dervish and catching up, or repelling, people in my hurricane.

A graceful swan - without the hiss...

With plenty of perseverance, one day, I'll be a swan, and hopefully, my little one will see a calm, graceful Marmee to look up to and try to emulate.

However, that wonderful saying that it takes a village to raise a child is true, and I can't have every good trait for her to learn from on my own. So if my swanlike aspirations fail, I'll just have to direct her to the more positive role models for calm and poise that she's sure to be surrounded by, when my own model is flawed.

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