“Mom! Mom, you’re not listening to me” my daughter prattled on while I stood in the dressing room holding two armloads of bikinis and springy ensembles that in total held less fabric weight than the single outfit I was wearing that moment. Oh, the agony of fashion shopping with a teen girl! Nope, I didn’t hear a single vowel she uttered, but it wasn’t because I wasn’t interested in learning more about why pre-calculus was ruining her life or how learning to drive in my minivan might leave her with permanent emotional scars. I was too busy contemplating if I should dare to give artichokes a whirl again this Easter, wondering when the mealy moths in our pantry would ever disappear, and daydreaming about which decade it was that I actually enjoyed trying on a bathing suit that didn’t have built in support or a skirt attached.
What a shame that I had just robbed myself of 15 carefree moments to kibitz with my daughter and simply enjoy the experience of watching her try on napkins, I mean two-piece bathing suits, all while she opened up about her complicated 17-year old lifestyle. Worse, she called me on it! Clearly it was time for me to get on board with today’s self-help gurus and stop being so distracted by life but instead try living in the moment!
I did a little research and found that living in the moment means you are totally immersed in an experience and therefore should reap far more happiness from your everyday life. I once read–the past is history, the future is a mystery, and the only time we really have is now – just this moment. So as not to ever miss out on important bonding moments like I did when my daughter asked me if I preferred tassels or fringe on those cute shorts she was trying on, I decided I would try to live in the second, never mind the moment, as often as I could.
I turned in early the night before so that I would be well rested and full of vim and vigor for my first full-fledged day of “Living in the Moment”. The alarm went off at precisely 5:45 AM, and I searched the nightstand for my glasses but instead knocked over my glass of water. That was so not the plan, so I allowed myself a little groan and then scurried to the bathroom to grab a towel before the spill ruined one of my only guilty pleasures, my latest edition of Soap Opera Digest—hey, if anyone knows how to live in the moment, it’s my friends from Days of Our Lives. They never work or seem to have any trouble finding invisible caregivers to watch their children so they can relax, putter around their beautifully decorated penthouses, or dine out 7 day’s a week, not once fretting over a negative balance in their checkbooks—these are my kind of people!
Breakfast is served and instead of shuffling through six boxes of cereal, I decide I will stop, look lovingly into all my children’s half-opened eyes and ask them how they slept and if they would like to have cereal or something hot and delicious instead. The confused looks on their faces told me all I needed to know—Mom must be really ill, hot and delicious on a school morning means rinsing off the hardened food particles leftover from last evening’s silverware with boiling water.
Bus departures begin at 6:40 AM in our homestead, so instead of cackling half-minded “the bus just went down the street” to my high schoolers, I gently tapped on their bedroom doors and quietly made the announcement and just relished the harried moments I observed as they snatched backpacks, iPods and hoodies, while treasuring those snarky comments they made under their breath—something I usually do from three rooms away. Ah, soaking in the moment—what a beautiful thing!
The rest of the day unfolded with much of the same. I tried to be alert in nearly every waking moment. From consciously noting the involuntary twitching of my upper body as the dog barked nonstop at the UPS man to the gentle creaking of my bones as I sat perched in the family room scrubbing the freshly ground backyard mud out of the carpet, I was temporarily able to push my to do lists and often intense thoughts about what was waiting for me around future’s corner right out of my mind. And when my son’s 6-year old play date commented that our home smelled like his grandfather’s car, I stopped what I was doing and savored his innocence rather than panic that our house smelled like a cigar joint.
I probably went overboard at my first attempt to immerse myself in life’s everyday moments—when I began naming the dust bunnies in our kitchen I realized I had gone too far. Most days my mindset will still be crazed and usually one step ahead of where I am presently standing, but if I can try to be more present during those “dressing room” instances with my daughter and the rest of my family then I will certainly be living more in the motherhood moment—and I think every child deserves at least that.
Copyright 2010 Cheryl Butler