My (Scatterbrained) Thoughts on Being Present

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.

My (Scatterbrained) Thoughts on Being Present

9 thoughts on “My (Scatterbrained) Thoughts on Being Present

  1. I am so thankful for this blog at this time. It’s like you read my heart. You aren’t alone in these feelings. I wish there were days that I was super mom. So well written, so beautiful.

  2. Thank you for saying so eloquently the words of my heart. YES. To me, “being present” is literally that: being aware of my life. The laundry and the dishes and the arguments. All of it. Just being there, paying attention, and letting the feelings come and go as I experience it. It is not about checking out into some Hallmark card of a faux life. No. It is just about not forfeiting the time I do have either fretting about something I already did or stressing about what is to come.
    Thank you for sharing this.

  3. LOVE this post! What a beautiful picture of your heart. I’m so glad you wrote it.

    It’s all so true, this living in the moment and breathing gratefulness. We’ll fail at that… we all do… but we do our best. That’s all we can ask and we look for what really matters.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. So beautifully written. I am the same as you. I can’t really settle be present to my children when the rest of my house is unsettled. But you’re absolutely right, on the days I’m the busiest, the days I do the laundry and scrub the floors and wash the windows, those are the days that I also make the best time for my kids. Thanks for not making me feel guilty about constantly thinking of the laundry!

  5. “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.”

    Yes. I used to torture myself with this whole being present thing. Still do, if I’m being honest. And what you’ve said here put words to what I’ve been grappling with. A long time ago when I shared a guilt-ridden post about how UNpresent I had been, Sue from Navel Gazing (love her) left a comment that said it’s good for my kids to see that I need to be working on other things throughout the day, and that when they join in, or do their own thing, they’re learning the world is NOT all about them. I loved that and think of it often. Because I’m exactly like you, I cannot be present while TRYING to be present and while ignoring things “to do” that are nagging at my brain. And I do notice and see and feel through it all, all the moments of beauty that pop up all on their own. We are the lucky ones, I think. Those of us who have our “present” goggles on at all times, because we just can’t help it. God gives us these eyes of grace and that too can be exhausting, all the taking in and brightness of life, but it’s so good. And because of it, we’re present.


    THE END.

  6. You certainly have a way with words While you you might call it rambling your words are wonderful, honest and refreshing to hear in these early years of mothering.

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