Today, I turned 40. Not a statement I was looking forward to saying, but there it is anyway. Been doing a lot of reevaluating and soul searching lately, although there isn’t all that much time for that.
Work is now 24/7. I sort of hate smartphones. They are a double-edged sword. They give you the “freedom” to work from anywhere–and the obligation to also do so.
The problem with technology, as I am finding out rapidly specializing in writing about emerging tech, is not the technology itself but the humans. If we used it responsibly and considerately, it would be a tremendous enabler. But instead of letting it make our lives easier, we’ve become slaves to it.
I suppose a lot of people use smartphones and work to fill a void in their lives. I have to smile wrying when I see people tweeting out things like “I love working on a Sunday, it’s so much more productive.” Good for you. The problem with that is, it also means you’re sending out all your productive Sunday work to other people and ruining their day off.
I wanted to take a day off work today. That’s all I really wanted for today; a chance to clear my head. I finally dragged a “happy birthday mommy” out of my cranky four-year-old this morning, and of course, my morning cuddles with my baby.
When I stroked Cataleya’s hair this morning as she was still sleeping, I had a melancholy moment, as I think all people do when they hit this rather unpleasant milestone. My thoughts turned to my mother. She has a huge party on her day and as she was getting ready, she did the same thing to me. Stroked my hair, spent a few moments lost in thought.
I remember it crystal clear, I don’t remember how old I was, but maybe around 11. I asked what was wrong, and a whimsical smile danced across her lips. “I’m just thinking, that’s all,” she said, “I love you so much.”
I wish I could she could be here with me. But she doesn’t even know it’s happening. To be honest, we’re not 100 percent certain that she even knows who I am anymore. Lying day after day in the care home wasting away. She deserved so much more.
But I take comfort from the fact that the first 40 years of her life at least were happy, and I wonder if some of the same thoughts passed through her mind on that day.
The Biggest Lesson I Have Learned
You have to establish your position in life as soon as you are able to. Cataleya is already learning to become assertive, direct, and no messing around. She’ll probably be the boss that makes the rest of her team wince when she calls (although, I rather hope to teach her some humility and kindness too).
Valentino is still finding his place, but I fear that he will be the sweet and kind, lovely person that other people step all over. I don’t want that for him either. Maybe as they grow up, their personalities will rub off on each other.
Because people treat you the way you allow them to. I spent most of my life being a people pleaser. It’s only been the last few years that I realized that no one has the power to make you feel inferior without your consent.
If you want something, ask for it. If you need something, say it. If you don’t want to be contacted via all channels on your birthday asking for urgent input on work-related issues, don’t reply.
10 years ago, more than 150 people came to my party. It was a massive occasion filled with drinking, dancing, laughing, and a little falling over.
Today, things have changed somewhat. I’m going surfing, picking up my babies, and spending the afternoon with my family, who flew out here for this. More popping of milk bottles than champagne, but not too shabby either.
And everything else can just wait.
P.S. A quick update. Spent two glorious hours surfing and forgetting about the rest of the world and its problems. Feeling absolutely fantastic and 100 percent motivated to keep this work-life balance going.