I’m trying to be present.
If I am being honest, many days I find this difficult. Life is crazy, but I’m trying.
It starts in the morning. My alarm goes off, and instantly, I am thinking about all of the things that need to be accomplished throughout the day. You hear my alarm and come to snuggle under the covers with me. And I love these moments. I cherish them, and I want you to know this. But, at the same time, I am counting down the minutes we have for pouring cereal (and eating it while watching cartoons), making sure the socks you put on are clean, and ensuring you have enough healthy items in your lunch to balance the treats you love before having to rush out the door for school and work. I’m realizing that an extra five minutes spent whispering under the covers means so much. You tell what you dreamed about and what your big plans are for the day. An extra five minutes may mean putting my hair into a haphazard bun, but in the long run, a bad hair day is worth it. You are worth it. One day you will be way too big to snuggle in the early mornings, and I’ll miss it. So, I’m trying to be more present.
When I pick you up from school, I always ask about your day. And I am trying to listen, truly listen, to what you learned and what games you played with your friends. My thoughts tend to drift to what happened in my workday, what needs to be done around the house when we get home, what I am making for dinner that evening. My thoughts are always one step ahead of me because, in life, there’s always work to be done. But, I am making a conscious effort to take a break from my hurried, busy thoughts to hear what you have to say about your day. You recently told me you formed a club to save bees. You explained you were and your friends were going to rescue bees during recess. You make me so proud. School is a big part of your life, and I want to hear all about it. I want to hear big things and small things. I want you to know I’m listening.
I’m trying to be more present because you care so much that your mom is watching you. I see you glancing over from the football field to see if I just saw you catch the ball. I see you watching from inside a baseball helmet when you’re up to bat and nervous. I know it makes you feel better than I’m there, cheering you on. And, I am. I’m watching. I’m your biggest fan. There are many times our children are trying to show us something, but our eyes are glued to our phones, reading about and watching other peoples’ lives. I’m guilty of this. I’m guilty of mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, and I have missed the, “Look, Mom! “Look what I did!” moments. I’m trying to be more present by putting my phone down, by putting my laptop down, by turning off the television, and not just glancing up to watch for a quick second, but by taking all of you in – how you’ve grown, what you’ve learned, and what you’ve accomplished – that’s what is most important to me.
I’ve been trying to be more present throughout the way we spend our time together. When we watch movies, we share a blanket and a bowl of popcorn. I put everything else aside and watch and giggle along with you. When we go to the park, instead of sitting on the bench and watching, I play on the playground and chase you while you scream and run away. You love all kinds of creatures, so I point out lightning bugs and help you catch frogs. I do all of these things because I am trying to be present. I want you to know how much I am in awe of you. I want you to know how much I love your spirit, and mostly, how much I love spending time with you. I never want you to think that I am too busy for you. I am trying to put cleaning, and work, and emails, and grocery shopping after time spent with you. When you’re older and look back on your childhood, I want you to remember your mom beside you, joining in whatever it was you wanted to do. I want to build those memories with you.
Even when you don’t realize I’m present, I still want to be. When you’re deep into a game of make-believe, running around the house pretending to be a survivalist in the jungle, I want to present. I want to be there when you’re fighting zombies and winning imaginary battles. Because I love seeing your budding imagination. I love watching you and your friends build forts in the living room. I love sneaking down the stairs to hear you whispering and giggling underneath blankets strewn across dining room chairs. I love seeing you play when you think no one is watching because that is when your creativity shines through, and I want to be there in those moments.
I want to say it doesn’t take much to be present, but sometimes, it does. Everyday life is demanding. As adults, we play many, many roles, and there can be pressure to fulfill these roles and the responsibilities that accompany them. As parents, we feel we are constantly being pulled in ten different directions. So, it does take a genuine effort to be present. Being present means intentionally setting aside time to focus solely on our children. Being present means purposefully not picking up our phones when they ding with a notification. It means deliberately putting off the dishes and laundry until the next day. It means willfully not checking the calendar and not going over and over our mental to-do list. It means taking the extra minutes we have to play, to listen, to snuggle, instead of to clean, to cook, or to work. And, this can be so difficult hard because sometimes, we just want to get stuff done!
But, I think when we are intentionally present with our family, with our children, we see what happiness that presence can bring to our lives. We come to realize the contentment of just being in the moment.
Because when I’m present,
I hear your stories and the vivid imagination they bring.
I watch as you build and make unique creations with your own two hands.
I see you gain confidence in your own abilities after you accomplish a goal.
I see your heart through the kind words you speak to others.
I hear your budding sense of humor as you tell jokes you thought of all on your own.
I see the thoughtful, considerate people you surround yourself with. In your relationships, I see how you help others grow and how you grow in return.
I feel your warmth as you crawl up next to me just to be close, and sometimes, you appear so small, and at other times, so incredibly big.
See, I’m trying to be present in all of the stages of your life. I’m trying to be present because then, I get to see all the wonder that you bring to the world. I get to witness all of the things that make you, you.
I’m trying to be present because I do not think it’s the days when the house wasn’t clean or there weren’t checkmarks beside our “to-dos” that we’ll remember, but I do think the hours we spent just being together are the ones we’ll never forget.