This morning I spent ten minutes looking at a door handle. They were the most mesmerising ten minutes of my day.
More on this in a mo. There was a lot going on in my head this morning. The end of maternity leave is drawing nearer every day: just as I start to get my head together and Bean and I have a really cool buddyship going on, I have to go back to where I was a year ago. It’s bl**dy hard. You live in a very special bubble for the first six months: just surviving and not being expected to think about anything else apart from you and your baby. Then slowly, over the next six, while you’re distracted watching your baby grow increasingly independent, the world gingerly takes off its kid gloves and starts trying to treat you normally again. What a cheek.
So this morning, I was feeling a tad overwhelmed with the realisation that I suddenly had to think about other stuff – outside the bubble stuff – and I wasn’t ready at all. How do you get ready? In short, my head was anywhere but with my baby.
I became aware that Bean was wriggling around in my arms. She was straining towards the door handle like a life-sworn One Direction fan grasping for Mr Styles as he approaches the autograph queue.
So we looked at the door handle. She was absolutely entranced – exploring it with her hands, gently touching the areas where the brass had tarnished, and playing with inserting her tiny finger nail into the screws. She was totally in that moment, fascinated by this cool shiny thing she’d discovered and wanting to know everything about it.
Her curiosity was infectious. I found myself watching her with a new curiosity too: fascinated by her fascination. What was she seeing? What was she thinking? I studied her tiny hands as they explored the handle, watched the changes in her facial expression as they ranged from intense concentration to delight and back again.
And I realised something in that moment: it is actually hard to feel sad or stressed when you are feeling curious. Interest is an inherently positive, stimulated state of being. A few minutes later, I found the heavy, foggy distraction I’d been feeling before had dissipated without my noticing. I felt balanced again, and excited to see what Bean wanted to do next.
So here’s a tip to try for today: take five and just look at your baby. Look at the world through her eyes for a few minutes. Jump back into the bubble into her moment and bask in the fun of being curious. You’ll be amazed what you learn, and I bet the other stuff clogging your head today won’t seem half as heavy anymore when you’re done.