Monday, August 15, 2011

Living in the Moment

I’d like to learn how to live in the moment.  In modern urban life, this is an impossible feat to accomplish all the time, but surely I could do it MORE.  I spend too much of my time thinking about the supposed-tos and the what-ifs. About what I could, would and should do after, or do instead. Right now as I write I’m editing what I just typed, and trying to remember for future paragraphs the clever turns of phrase that pop in and out of my head like bubbles.

It doesn’t help that I’m super aware of what’s going on around me, and therefore very easily distracted. I do try to find beauty and calm. But then usually, my sensibilities are ambushed by something like a pimped out car, a ludicrously low sag or (white) leggings on ham thighs, and I want to crawl into a hole and mourn the state of the world.

It's no way to live.  

Since motherhood is all about multi-tasking, consistently planning, being hyper-observant and always trying to be one step ahead, it's making my little problem worse.  I spend my day rushing two little people - who want nothing more than to live in the moment - around so we can stick to a schedule.  If a schedule exists for their good and mine, why does it make us all so crazy?  Life has become about getting to the next need.  It's getting kids who are playing inside, outside, so they'll have enough time to enjoy being out-of-doors. Then once they're happy being out, it's about rushing them back in, to eat and/or nap.  It's how to end a playdate so there’s enough time to get to the grocery store and make dinner. And of course, some of the most zealous not living in the moment occurs during the bedtime ritual  - when desperately craved me-time is now within reach.

Part of this always thinking ahead issue stems from my all consuming fear of The Meltdown.  Add to that the immediate consequences of haphazard meals, overspending on take-out, and my anxiety that leaving the dishes dirty for too long will push our family down the slippery slope to squalor.  My overdramatic imagination goes into a full drama of slacker parenting – pre-packaged meals, too much screen time, no reading, a family schedule like that of an unemployed trust-fund pothead -  and I see my children in the year 2040, their greatest achievement having been working a 7-11 cash register.  Shudder. So, I keep us all rushing through the day, in order to get things done, get myself some time off and to make sure my children are, if not wunderkinds, then well-rested, well-nourished, physically coordinated and intellectually stimulated little people.

During all this hustle-bustle, I sometimes remember that I'm not really interacting with my kids - I'm not really enjoying them and vice-versa.  I wrestle to change Aria's diaper and get her dressed without talking to her.  So involved am I in getting sippy cups filled and Cheerios into snack cups, that I'm not singing songs, or making  conversation with my children.  It’s as though I’m taking orders like a short order cook, trying to get everything right, so as not to offend my customers.  And sometimes I spend the better part of the day yearning for their nap.  Am I so involved in what I need to do to keep the house running and to meet everyone's needs that I'm hurtling through a very sweet time with my little ones?

But the craziness does make the pure moments stand out.  A hug where Riley or Aria nestles in to the crook of my neck and I can nuzzle his/her hair.  Driving around listening to music while everyone chats, sings or coos.  A family dinner where everyone is actually eating happily.  Watching the kids do “tumblebacon” (somersaults off the twin mattress in Aria’s room).   Sitting on our deck blowing bubbles and eating popsicles.  These moments do happen, the moments when all is right with my family and with the world.  When I can breathe.

Dancers live for muscle memory – when technical concepts and movement ideas cease to be merely cerebral and become a true extension of ourselves.  These moments are ecstatic, like how I imagine it would be to take flight.  These moments take work, and are hard won.  It appears to be the same with the pure, present episodes of parenting.  Maybe half the battle is accepting and valuing the fact that I've attained these blissful and rare moments, at all.  


  1. Here here Keesha. I have the same thoughts considering I work full time and don't get to spend alot of time with Henry. I've starting taking a step back to not make plans on the weekends, when I spend the most time with him, and we both seem much happier as a result. I'm not as stressed and he is smiling like crazy!
    I love your topics for your blog- each one is as if you've read my mind! Keep them coming! :)

  2. Of course I catch myself questioning these same things so often. Just last week, I sat in the backyard with Aidan and felt compelled to get him packed in the car so we could go to the pool and have fun. But he was already having fun. He was playing in the sandbox. So I just sat there with him and let him decide what our fun would be. That was a MUCH better plan. Sandbox, followed by about 15 seconds of basketball, then blowing bubbles... Overall it was kind of like following some of your Ten Habits article's advice, "don't try to make them happier". They need much less than we think in terms of stimulation and activity. They just need us to be there and listen.

  3. Beautifully written, once again! You captured how I feel on a daily basis perfectly, especially the parts about naptime being best part of day and bedtime seeming like more of a chore because of my overwhelming need for "me" time. But your post reminds me that this time when our kids need us so much is limited, and when they are grown, we will have our "me" time back and no doubt be looking back nostalgically, wishing we had been more present. Here's to finding more Zen mommy moments!

  4. What an interesting post. Since having my baby almost 10 months ago, I have been making a concerted effort to enjoy the now. It's nearly impossible, as everything to do with a baby is so focused on what's next. I keep reminding myself how fleeting it is that he'll let me hold him, let alone need me to.

  5. Sometimes I find it so difficult to balance playing with my 11 month old son and taking care of him. Doing the dishes, making his food, washing his cloth diapers... are all for him but he would much rather I just roll around on the floor with him. And then if you try to do anything for yourself during the day, there is just so much guilt. It is too bad that moms are hardwired to doubt themselves when it comes to our children. I think we just need to have faith that we are doing a good job.

    I'm a new follower. I found you through vB.

    Kristen from

  6. Wow, I really enjoyed this post! It is true we get caught up in our day to day lives and forget to savour the precious moments with our children.... This is a great reminder!
    Muscle memory. A former dancer myself I keep wondering if my muscles forgot me!
    Stopping by from VB!

  7. Sometimes it is so hard to find the balance with multitasking. I'm 49 and I still find myself rushing through moments I should stop and savor. Great post, I really enjoyed reading it.

  8. Keesha, you are saying what 99% of us moms are thinking. No one tells us this BEFORE kids, we all are learning it as we go along. Thank God for the internet and blogging moms! Following from vb.

  9. It's so true! It becomes difficult to be the manager of these little kids and yet have the energy to be the loving parent. As long as we engage and enjoy our children, the rest will fit into place. At least that's what I'm learning. They're so much happier when we laugh with them and they could care less if the dishes are washed right away. I'm learning to enjoy the smiles and instead of just trying to get through my day. That's why I started my blog.

    The Smile Conquest Day 55 A Spider Ate My Grump

  10. All of you moms are amazing. As an older mom, I look back and remember being super concious of what I knew to be super concious OF! But you guys know so much more and strive for so much more. My hst's off to you! From Vboks. Trying to follow.

  11. I'll never forget the time I watched my son stand staring at a leaf for over 3 minutes. I was frantic, thinking that he must be bored and I had to DO SOMETHING so that he could be doing something, and then I realized that he *was* doing something! Just because it wasn't overtly stimulating, he was happy and I needed to let him be.

    We moms have a lot of external stuff every day telling us what makes a "good" mom and how to parent "the right way." It's amazing we get to enjoy our families at all!

  12. Well said. I don't think we'll ever stop needing to remind ourselves to live in the moment. It's the mommy curse I suppose, But I do think it is possible to make it a way of life. Even if we still need reminders from time to time.

    Found you through voice box. Your blog is great and I look forward to reading more!

  13. I have found that when I stop obsessing about the fact that I should live in the moment I actually start doing it. Good luck with your journey!

    I am visiting from VB :D

  14. This blog post reminds me of a book I read for a sociology course. The title is Unequal Childhoods and it's by Annette Lareau. If you're interested in looking more into it, check here:

  15. First let me say how proud I am of you (& you know why & that this is not in some weird patronizing way)! Secondly, I think at every stage of motherhood, we all walk a fine line between 'doing for them' and 'enjoying who they are while they are who they are'. You are not off the mark of most moms, and frankly the careful consideration of what needs to be done to maintain (for lack of a better term) your children, and then your reflection afterward about how you'd like to improve shows that you are in fact an amazing mother. If someone tells you they're getting it right & hitting the mark all the time, every day, they are lying. Haha!
    Joe & I would joke when the boys were in their first year that we were simply their pit crew. We gassed them up, changed their tires, made sure they were ready to speed off into their next adventure. It still remains true now that they are 2 & 4. We make sure they are fed, clothed, bathed, and most importantly - loved, and if at the end of the day that's all we did, that's going to have to be good enough.
    This is a wonderful post that I think every mom can relate to, and reflect on.


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