Saturday, February 20, 2010

Being Present

I am with my kids for 12 hours a day. Yes, you read that right. From sun up to sun down, I am with them and they are with me. But recently I realized that even though I am physically present with them for the majority of my waking hours, and ALL of theirs, much of the time I am not really with them. It's the same with my husband. Him I see a lot less, but still much of the time I spend in his presence is time physically near him, but not really with him.

I want to get rid of all of the junk in my life that is crowding in and sucking up the precious time I have with my family. Not the special days of vacations, the beach or Disneyland, but the ordinary, every day days when the most exciting thing on my agenda is a rousing game of Candyland and a peanut butter sandwhich at noon. Often I think this time isn't precious, isn't important, and won't be remembered by my kids or me in another minute, let alone another day. But that just isn't true.

Those small moments when Miss O asks me to read to her and I am in the middle of an important email or am engrossed in a blog post add up, and the way I respond means something to her. When I stop, fold her little toddler body in my arms and read that book one more time, I am loving her more than words could ever express, and I am showing her that I want to be in her presence, that I bask in it, thrive on it, and can't wait to be a part of it.

It's the same with my husband. When he interrupts me as I am on the last page of a novel to tell me more of the same work-related stories, I have a choice. Will I choose to be present in his life, and show him how much I want to hear his stories (even if I don't), or will I choose to pay minimal attention to his story hoping he'll take the hint and let me return to my all important book? I cringe when I think about the hundreds of times I have let him down by not showing enough interest in him, by showing too much interest in my own pursuits, by prefering to relax at the end of a long day, by putting him off. And I wonder, though it seems like it means nothing to him at the time, really, how long can a person be treated this way before waking up one day and realizing that they are terribly hurt and that the hurt is deep enough that a great chasm has come up between us that cannot be crossed?

I don't want to create chasms. I never have wanted to. But my actions sometimes tell a different story. I want to be present, I want to show love, I want to shove away all the "important" things that I have grown to love, and begin to be present so much more in the lives of my family members. After all, without them, there wouldn't really be much of anything truly important in my life.

8 comments:

N said...

This is such a challenge for me too with the kids. It's so hard to be excited each day by putting together blocks or reading the same books over and over. If I'm so bored by it, I figure they must be too. But each time I see K get so excited by finding her favorite blue block or N by finding his favorite monkey in the box, I realize that this IS an exciting world for them at this point. I've been thinking about this a lot lately actually, because I think it's a balance of making the effort to be present for things that just frankly ARE boring (but not to them) and finding things that you genuinely enjoy with them so you don't get burned out. I am on the hunt now for new quality time activities we can do as a family so we can all have more balance between "exciting" days and "rousing game of candyland" days (which in our house translates to "sitting in the playroom investigating the same toys over and over" days). :)

Jen Wells said...

Thanks for sharing this. I face the same choices everyday.

Debbie said...

I think we all struggle with these same issues! Very well stated and I can't agree more!

Cindy said...

Have you ever read any of Eckhart Tolle's books? He is awesome. He talks about how being present is so important. Oprah had a live web class with him a while back. It was great listening to him. Not sure if you can still access it from her site.

Annette W. said...

Thanks for a timely reminder! I can certainly allow the tv (with husband) and the computer with the kids and husband interferre with taking care of the family in those little moments.

Though many of us may experience this, thanks for being open enough to share from your heart.

Jenny said...

I think this is certainly something every mom/wife struggles with. We carry a lot on our plates and at times the choices we make might not be the best...

You put this very nicely...and it is always a good reminder to read/listen how our days should be spent..with those who mean the most!!! :)

Miller Moments said...

Well said!

Steph H said...

I am struggling with this as well -- my 8 year old told me I never play with her. I need to balance mom/caretaker/person better. Thanks for the reminder to stop and take stock of what's really important.

steph h
www.k12.com

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