Lessons from my baby daughter #7.
There is nothing quite so amazing to me as the lightening speed at which little people can transform heartbroken tears into infectious laughter. Miss L has become an expert. I have seen her little red face in the throws of a crying fit one minute and then burst into giggles just one breath later. If only she could talk and let me in on the secret. So far she has been entertained out of a tantrum by me doing exercise (thanks for the vote of confidence baby girl!), singing ‘Galumph went the little green frog’ (what’s with that song anyway?), sneezing (not so funny post pregnancy) and blowing in her face (cruel but effective). Her sunny, gummy little baby smile says that all is right with the world once more.
There seem to be a lot of days that I don’t feel like smiling all that much, let alone laughing. It’s not that I am sad. I have a thick warm blanket of contentment that comes from knowing I am being the best Mumma I can be but there is also a bone deep tiredness, the result of sleep interrupted nights, too many doctors appointments and the necessity of house-hopping at the moment. A tiredness that also comes from navigating these new labels of motherhood and a heart condition that constantly compete for my time and energy. Smiling just feels all too hard some days.
I recently heard a speaker illustrate the benefits of flexing your muscles and waving your arms around before job interviews and when I Googled the study it was cheesily titled ‘Preparatory Power Posing Affects Performance’. Anyway, the gist of the experiment pitted one group of people who had marched around striking victory poses against another group that curled up in little balls before a job interview. The results showed that a couple of minutes in a high power pose before entering a situation where the power balance is stacked against you actually enhanced performance. The participants taking the low power poses, hunched in their chairs or curled over their phones lost out on the job.
It got me thinking about those overused platitudes, ‘Put your best foot forward’, ‘Fine feathers make fine birds’ and ‘Laughter is the best medicine’. Perhaps the old wives were on to something after all, especially when it comes to smiles and laughter. In fact, the Mayo Clinic reports that laughter actually induces physical changes in your body, increases oxygen intake, stimulates organs like the heart, increases endorphins, improves circulation and relieves the stress response. Long term effects include improved immune systems and better mental health. Sign me up.
Miss L has cut her two front teeth just in time for Christmas and is ever so proud of exhibiting them. In spite of the pain and tears and sleepless nights they have caused, she thinks they are just about the best thing since sliced toast. Actually better, because now she can chew said toast! After her recent immunisations she howled and glared at the nurse with injured indignation, only to turn around a minute later, pull down her bottom lip and show off her little white toothy pegs in a dribbly grin. The tears dried up, the sobs stopped and the sun came out once more.
Positive thinking is not enough. It is positive action that must come first. We must get out of bed on the mornings when it hurts just to move, we must engage in living if we want to enjoy life and we must smile and laugh, even when we cry on the inside. I don’t know if I can do this on a full time basis but I am determined to try. Tomorrow, come what may, I am going to smile.