Being Present is the Perfect Resolution for a Busy Momma
January, 2016 - Issue #135
courtesy of Shutterstock
courtesy of Shutterstock

I was fully aware of the irony.

In the middle of reading an article about how to be "fully present," I found myself barking at children to clean their rooms while simultaneously checking e-mail every time a notification audibly pinged. Like a stressed-out version of Pavlov's dog, my heart rate accelerated noticeably every time the gentle "ding" met my ears. I busied myself for hours that Saturday, waiting for what I was sure was going to be a "bad" message from a client, reading blogs, deleting old mail, putting dates on the calendar, organizing my desk, half-heartedly working on projects that needed more inspiration than I could muster at the moment. Each time I wandered near my three kids, I found myself saying critical things. "That's no way to put away laundry," "If I find one more Lego under your bed, I'm going to lose it!," and so on. My worry manifested into a sharp tongue, so I took both back to my desk after I realized that I should, at the least, keep the suffering to myself.

The e-mail I expected to devastate me that morning came late into the evening - and with congratulatory remarks to boot. In fact, it was nothing short of remarkably complimentary. It should have made me feel amazing, except that it was a reminder not of what I had gained - a new, happy customer - but what I had lost.

Nine hours.

That's how much time I wasted being worried, upset, snappish and paralyzed. That was time I could have spent smiling, playing, producing, resting, laughing and connecting. As a busy working mother, I feel I don't do enough of any of those things - and I had missed a chance to do all of them on a rare unscheduled Saturday at home with my kids.

I said to myself, "The e-mail was great! What a waste of a day! I'm ridiculous."

And I was... but I wasn't fully aware of why quite yet.

It was only the next day, while talking to my eldest, when I realized that, had the e-mail been "bad," it would have been even more important for me to do the important work of connecting with the ones I love the most. If, instead of, "We loved it!" the message had been, "You're fired!," I would have been able to deal with the shock and hurt much better with a well-rested body and happy heart.

My 2015 New Year's Resolution was to be more present - and this last year challenged me in more ways than I could have expected. I fell off the "present" wagon many times, but I always got back up and tried again.

For me, being present looks a lot like "just being a good human being." When my children talk to me, I now take my eyes away from the computer screen or cutting board and meet theirs until we're done. For a multi-tasking whirlwind momma, this can sometimes feel excruciatingly slow, but it's worth it to silence the voice that says, "That work isn't going to do itself!" for two minutes a few times a day. It helps them feel listened to and important, and it ensures that I stay focused on their message - and what I often missed before I started the habit. 2015 was a year of seeing my children more wholly; their enthusiasm, their fears, their hearts. And while my world in 2015 had many a worry, I worked to acknowledge the feeling and then tuck it away when the answer to "Can I do anything about this now to make the situation better?" was an obvious "no."

I still have a long way to go in mastering the "present," but when I'm on a roll, life just feels better. I have the sensation of being propelled by gratitude for the people around me; my fears don't seem so consuming; and more things get done.

In 2016, my resolution will be the same, because being present is the perfect present to myself and those I love the most.
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