I struggle big time with being present and staying in the moment. I am constantly thinking ahead and asking myself “what’s next.” Does anyone else have this problem?
A couple weeks ago when the kids in our area were starting back to school, I got this overwhelming feeling of dread thinking about Raley starting Kindergarten next year. That day we had gone to Point Mallard and spent an incredible day at the water park as a family, but as soon as we got in the car I was ready to rewind. I felt a sense of guilt because I felt that I had not savored those sweet moments as much as I should have.
All day I was asking “what do we want to do next?” I was enjoying watching the girls splash around in the kids play area but I was constantly thinking what’s next? I think we’ll go to the big pool and let Raley jump off the diving board. Then we get there and she jumps a few times and they’re swimming in the big pool and I’m asking David “What do you want to do next?” Let’s go to the lazy river. “You want to go now?” And just like that, that moment is over. And so it goes with everything we do.
While I should have been on an emotional high for the rest of the evening from such a great day, I couldn’t shake the guilt and the self-scrutinizing – did I do enough? Did I enjoy the moment enough while it was happening?
Then that night as I was putting Raley to bed and realized that in exactly a year she’d be off to Kindergarten, it just made the feeling even more heavy. I watched David sing “Twinkle Twinkle” in the silly way that he sings it only to her. He bounced her around in his arms and I watched her smile and giggle with her long blonde hair flowing back and forth behind her.
Then she asked me to lay with her for a minute and I had to say yes (I usually say no and while I know that I can’t lay with her every night, this tends to bring up feelings of guilt too). I’ve always called her my “Sweet Girl” because she is so sweet and sensitive (most of the time.) She kept petting my face and kissing my cheek and telling me “I love you all the way to the moon and the sun and Pluto and back and I think you’re the best mommy.” And just like that, through the mind of a child, I was brought back to the moment.
I’m pretty sure this is the life I used to dream of. Two beautiful children laughing at their daddy doing something silly. Giving me the biggest hugs around the neck and saying I love you. I think I literally pictured this life in my mind at one point and now it’s here….and I tend to take it for granted.
I let hours get away from me. I count down the minutes until nap time or bed time so I can get some peace and quiet from the “hey mommy”s and the temper tantrums.
The mom guilt is real. I try to tell myself not to worry. That they are having fun and these moments mean the world to them. They enjoy them more than our adult brains can fathom and that should be enough. After a day of so much fun, yet feeling this weight of guilt, my four year old tells me she loves me and that I’m the best mommy. I try to give myself grace because I know that they are having fun, but I want to hold on to the moments for me. I want these moments to last, but somehow I don’t enjoy them while they’re happening. I don’t want my little girls to grow up too fast and feel as if I let all this time slip through my fingers.
So, how do I become more present? How do I avoid looking ahead? I don’t have a clear answer for this. I know it’s something I need to consciously and intentionally work on and pray about. I want this next year to be the slowest yet. I don’t want to look back in a year when Raley goes to Kindergarten and say “did I do enough” (although, knowing me, I probably will.)
Does anyone else struggle with being present? Do you have any suggestions for keeping your mind in the moment? I’d love to hear them!