It is extremely difficult to remain in the present moment when you are a mom. I think it is in our DNA to constantly worry about our children's’ futures as well as what we said and/or did in the past to screw them up. At least that is what I know about being a mom from my mother. It seemed that she was always on worry mode when my sister and I were growing up. We are what we have been conditioned to become. I catch myself on the worry train constantly when it comes to the girls. There are times when I want so badly to be in the present moment because my 2 and 4 year old daughters say and do the most amazing things. I want to “be” there so that I can enjoy their childish innocence as much as possible before this special time flitters away.
Alright. So, how do we remain present? I think the key is that we recognize the importance of staying present when we are with our children. If we did not realize that presence is key, we would completely miss the moments that make parenting worthwhile. I catch myself getting lost in my head when I am driving my girls around, worrying about this or that, planning, or replaying past situations of which I did not particularly like the outcome. The worst is when I become frustrated by my kids because they want my attention, my presence, but I am too busy in my head to give them what they so vitally need from me.
The moment we become aware of our mindlessness, we become mindful. The beauty is that no matter how many times we screw up and get caught in the stories in our heads, we can always come back to the present moment. And it is okay. A Mindfulness practice has taught me to pay attention to my environment while I am with my girls so that I can point out to them objects such as a bright green tree, an animal, an interesting cloud, or whatever. This way we can appreciate the moment together. I have also learned to listen to the environment and do the same with sounds that peak my interest such as a bell ringing, a bird singing, a motorcycle in the distance, or whatnot. I ask the girls to be quiet, listen, and tell me what they hear. It becomes a game in being mindful.
The other morning I was out on our back covered deck having some coffee and the girls were inside watching a show on TV. We have a bird family that has made its home in one of the eaves of the roof over our deck. Once the girls realized I was not in their vicinity, they both came out to find me. We three sat on the swing and watched the father bird, a little peeved we were out there invading his space, fly back and forth with food for his babies in the nest. The babies were quiet but they sensed their dad was close because we could hear the tiny “cheeps” and “chirps” as he approached with the newest bug in his mouth. The simple joy of watching the father caring for his young, the sounds of the baby birds, and the smiles on my daughters’ faces as they watched this transaction made this one of the best memories of this summer. All of us, including the birds, were in the present moment and that was special for me as a mom. I would like more moments like that with my girls.
So, moms are worriers. I don’t think that will ever change. But maybe the more we realize when we get stuck in a worry pattern in our minds, the less this will affect the time we share with our children.