This picture came up on Facebook from five years ago, and it made me feel kinda wistful about those days!
But I actively apply my yoga to my life and work to live in the moment with my kids, and I’ve made a conscious choice throughout my kids’ lives to be present with them and to enjoy each phase of life (not that they’ve all been easy—lots about twins and motherhood has been HARD), and to be really present for the kids at times each day. Because let’s be honest—who can be entirely present with kids every minute of every day? Y’all know what I’m talking about. I knew one woman who I think was wholly present with her kids, and psychotherapy is outside the scope of my practice, but it may have been at the expense of things for herself. Sometimes you need to talk to another human and the kids need to wait. But after a day of school, for instance, I usually prioritize connection with my kids, then talking to another mom.
When I’m with my kids, I’m with them. I’m not on my phone or my computer. I think that’s really important. It’s so hard to fit everything in, and we all are going to have to make calls around our kids, or talk to a friend it’s been hard to connect with, or take care of some business at one time or another. But I often see parents distracted with their kids, and, well, monkey see, monkey do. If I’m working, which sometimes IS on my computer, I try to set clear boundaries that it’s my work time. They don’t like it, but I think it’s important for them to learn those boundaries, and half-attention is unsatisfying for everyone. Coming from a Waldorf background, I also involve them in the work of the home, folding laundry, prepping food, etc. This definitely takes time, but it also builds connection, and I think it will pay off in the long run with them having the habit of participating in the household.
Each age has really cool things attached to them, and if we really sit are conscious about it, time does not go by fast. If we are mindful, we capture a lot of moments, even though moments are not really for capture. I got great advice before my wedding and this morphed into motherhood, too. I was advised the night of my wedding and reception would go by really fast, and it was suggested I stop three times to really soak things in. I did. It was a really fun night, and those images and moments and feelings are soaked into me, one moment in particular where I stopped behind a pillar and watched our friends and family having a great time with our super fun band, enjoying the culmination of my work picking out colorful linens and perfect lighting in the historic LA building we’d chosen. I feel it’s the same with kids. We can’t hold onto them and the moments any more than we can hold onto a breath that we just exhaled, but we can soak in some moments and be present for the next moment.
Nostalgia is a funny thing though, too.. It can distort the reality of memories. This picture shows a really lovely morning blueberry picking. I had our nanny with me, and we had single man coverage, so on this day I had reason to have peace on my face. Someone else helped with diapers (not that I minded diapers, as they can be a form of bonding and are one-on-one time), or I did them if I wanted to. Basically, whenever I needed help, it was there. That wasn’t always the case. If I was nursing one child, she could take care of the other, so I didn’t have the stress of someone running off. I had the privilege of having help, of getting to spend quality one-on-one time with each child because the other was getting quality time with someone else they loved and who loved them. It also enabled me to parent in a way I like to: with patience, tolerance and respect. A goal I don’t always achieve, but I do my best, When I’m on my own, I’m more worn down, my patience is less strong, and that’s normal for us humans. Being on your own with these two was a lot of work. Especially because we chose not to introduce television or media until the kids were a lot older. So it was all hands-on. Fun, so often, but exhausting and also stressful. So, nostalgia aside, it wasn’t always so peaceful.
Yet, for all the hard work, I wouldn’t change our choices because I appreciate the two humans we are raising. And despite all I’ve written above, maybe when they start high school or college I’ll be expressing myself on Facebook (or whatever social medium is de rigeur at the time) “Where did the time go??? It went so fast!!!” I’m open to not-knowing what I don’t know. But I do know moments are here and then they are gone, and then we are in new moments. And it is worth making choices to be actively present for some of the moments throughout the day—with your kids and with yourself, too.