This is very cliche, what follows. Because, in a nutshell I guess, my life is very cliche. Maybe we all are cliches, we mothers…what we feel, what we do…what we gossip about and what we cry over.
This is also very disorganized, and completely scatterbrained. Because these days, I seem to be all over the place with my thoughts.
So here you go…
Let the laundry go, bla bla bla, you should be present. Don’t worry about the dust, your children are growing up and you will be able to dust for your whole life, but you won’t be able to sit there and enjoy reading with your kids forever, and bla bla bla. Be present. I get it. It’s all true. I want to be present. I want to experience and feel and remember.
But then if I’m doing all the being present, who makes the supper? Who does the laundry? Who keeps the plants from dying, and goes over the homework, and who makes sure the bills are paid and the groceries are bought and the kids get to their lessons and activities and who cleans and who does all of the other stuff?
And you know what? Sometimes I need to clean, and feel like I’m getting somewhere. Sometimes, I need to feel like I am organized and like I am accomplishing something. And if I’m being honest, on those days where I let the laundry go, and let the dusting go? I’m not present on those days, either. It seems that the days that I am most present are the days that I get the most done.
Lately, I can’t seem to be motivated for more than a day or two.
I go about madly one day, cooking and cleaning and gardening and fixing and helping with homework and projects and teacher gifts and preparing for parties and shopping and mending.
I do laundry and I plant flowers and I read books to the kids and I cook a good meal and I clean the bathroom. I even iron the shirts and dresses and placemats that have been waiting for weeks. We play outside. We make lemonade. We picnic on the patio.
And then the next day I do something ridiculous, like watch 3 hours of tv during Ella’s naptime because I’m behind on my shows and this way I can zip through the commercials with the dvr. I convince myself that I’m saving myself time. And then I mope through the afternoon. I am dazed and disorganized and confused.
Because I am tired.
I am used up.
I am trying to be everything to everyone and I’m kind of failing miserably at it.
And then someone on the internets gets the brilliant idea to tell us mothers that we have to be present. That if we’re not present, then we’re really missing out. So now I’m stressed out that I’m missing out, and that I had better be present or I’m going to regret it, bigtime. Thanks, internets.
Maybe it’s just fine to need to accomplish, and to need to do, and maybe that is how I’m most present in the moment. Is that bad?
Maybe being present doesn’t always means dropping everything, and getting in the middle. Maybe sometimes it means watching those moments. Seeing them. Soaking in them. Sometimes, maybe it means letting Ella help with the dishes. Or the gardening. And letting Kate help with the cooking, because she loves it, and then it is the two of us, together, cooking. Maybe sometimes it is in the doing, not in the getting it done.
Maybe it means squeezing baby thighs, and kissing freckles, and folding laundry in-between.
And yes, maybe sometimes it means letting the laundry go altogether. (But in the back of your mind, you know it is still there, and it’s only piling up higher. Go on, admit it.)
I don’t know.
The very essence of being present cannot possibly come from contrived moments, for being present isn’t about creating moments to make your life beautiful.
It is about recognizing what is already beautiful about your life.
It is about looking up to find your little boy sitting in his mismatched jammies and bathed in a pool of sunshine reading his new book. It is watching his little sister, half-naked with tangly hair and a milk mustache, turning the pages of the cookie book with her chubby fingers. And in that moment, seeing the trees sway in the breeze outside your window, and hearing the birds sing and it’s like an epiphany that washes over you…
…that all that other stuff doesn’t matter…
If you try to tell yourself that in any other moment, it won’t work. But right then, right in the middle of that joy…
…you are present.