Learning How To Focus

There are many things about my daughter that I admire, but one quality she has had since birth is her ability to get what she wants.  It was apparent as an infant when she didn't sleep much. I know now that she just preferred being near me. Needless to say this wore me out and yet even today at the age of 12, she still likes having me around though she doesn't want much from me....just my physical presence. When I left on a trip she was emailing me a message that said, "You just pulled out of the drive way and I already miss you." And this relates to the other quality which is her laser-like focus on things she deems important to her. As an infant and well into elementary school she wanted me. At night. Every night. And she would stop at nothing to get my presence. The fights we had because she was so focused and persistent rattled our home.

Did I mention it was was tiring? Did I say she wore me out?

But finally (thank god) I can see how this will be useful.
 At teacher conferences all I heard was, "She's very focused. She comes in, she sits down, and she is in the zone." I am not complaining or even bragging. I thought it might be sort of nice for them to give me a sense of who she was through some fun little story of her personality until....duh! I realized that IS who she is.

This week she has been diligently working on her Halloween costume. She has attended to school business. She looked ahead to what needed to be done after Halloween and made a healthy start so she wouldn't feel stressed on Halloween night (I know, right? I can hardly believe she's my kid!) and then set to her task every night for five days.This has always been who she is and I don't know why I didn't really get it until now. 

While I get the label of adult in this house, she has earned the role of teacher and has left me wondering why I can't have that same sort of focus on the things I want. There are people to feed and bills to pay and a house to attend to. All of that comes with having a family.  But if I found my focus, it would seem that I might get a little closer to how I feel I really want to live. 

At the beginning of the school year I was filled with ideas. I would do this and that and I was a font of possibility. But the reality of all what it would take to do all of these things left me spinning my wheels. A friend pointed out that while my ideas and enthusiasm were nice, nothing would ever get accomplished if I didn't focus and she was right.

A hard part of all of this is that I have never had that much-lauded Type A personality. I have always been acutely aware of my inability to, at the very least, fake such a role. We celebrate the fast movers and jugglers in this world.  Mile long to-do lists are worn with badges of pride. To say out loud, "I wrote, I fed the kids, and planned a lesson" leaves me open to criticism and no matter how much I can say I don't care what other's think, it's a lie. I do. We do. We all do. Even if it's just a little bit.

But here is what I know:  We all have the same amount of time. And we all have the choice in how to spend it.  I know that everyone has demands upon their time. But it seems high time that we start making demands about how we really want to use it.

And so I am adopting some (not all because planning ahead is too far out of my comfort zone) of my daughter's ways.  Channeling her furrowed brow, laser-like focus, and stick-to-itiveness, I am practicing saying yes consistently to my family, exercise, and writing and no to that other stuff that doesn't not line up with my desires.  

Of course I have already failed, but I get to start over every hour of the day if I need to. 

"Keep your eyes on the prize" is an adage we've all heard. But this trip into middle age, experience with loss, and the realization that 


All these things combined are finally waking me up to the fact that the prize is this....what we create, who we share our time with, and how we make others feel when we are with them. 

The journey will be as messy and imperfect as I am, but it will as I wish it to be...one that I hope when over, I can truly call my own. 

1 comment:

  1. I love the things you're saying yes to. And thanks for the chat that made me think about the yesses in my life too. You're awesome and imperfect and I love having you for a friend. I wouldn't want you to be anything different than exactly who you are. I come away from every one of our lunches a better version of myself. SO blessed to know you.


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