One of the things I love doing on my Facebook page is asking a basic question of the group, one that I know will elicit a lot of responses, and hopefully starting a (often important, and needed) conversation. Even before I read through all the responses – and please know that I do, very carefully, read through all of the responses – your enthusiasm in joining the conversation tells me two things: 1) That we all want to be heard… that we all have questions, and struggles, and things to share, and that platforms like blogs and Facebook groups still serve a real purpose, and 2) That we’re all in this together. I think that one of the most helpful things to know (not just with parenting, but with life) is that we are not alone. That someone, somewhere, is out there who gets it. Who understands how we feel. Who knows what it’s like to be facing what we face. It’s a powerful thing, and one I don’t take for granted.
Most recently, I asked,
What is one thing that you struggle with as a parent? Something that you know you want to do differently (such as less yelling, more patience, etc) but that you are having trouble implementing?
I got an overwhelming response, both in numbers and in sheer honesty and vulnerability. So thank you. I very quickly realized that what was meant to be a one-off blog post really needed to become a regular series. Because I don’t care how good of a mom you are: We all struggle with something.
The thing that stood out to me the most in my first read-through of the comments was the one that’s been my own personal struggle since… well, forever: Being present. Being in the moment. It’s something that I’ve thought about, and learned about, and written about, many many times in the 20 years that I’ve been a parent. Tegan (who’s 9 at the time of this writing, and is teaching me a whole new set of parenting truths after her three brothers) has been instrumental in showing me of the importance of living in the moment.
But still, I have to remind myself. Still, I have to practice.
And I’m not alone.
Just a few of my fellow like-minded parents:
Stopping, breathing, and taking in the moment. Appreciating their age, abilities and achievements without being frustrated by lesser things. ~ Bea L
Really struggling with patience these days. ~ Jess F
Being more present with my kids and not giving in to frustration. ~ Rebecca P
Slowing down and enjoying the moments. I always seem to be going and trying to clean, get dishes or laundry done and I tend to e short with my kids and not fully engage in play or conversation. ~ Stefanie S
Being impatient and not being able to just be present with them. Working on it. Getting better, but it is hard. ~ Karen E
I have spent the entire last year working on my mental health, and a huge, huge part of that work was learning to live in the moment. Our brains (or at least my brain) always want to be solving problems, and thinking about the next thing, or the last thing, or the thing that’s coming up next week, or the thing that happened 6 months ago. When you’re not truly living in the moment, you’re either living in the past, or in the future. And in the past and in the future, there’s always a problem to solve. It’s exhausting.
So all the typical “live in the moment” advice – Breathe; Count to ten.; Look around and ground yourself by appreciating the sights and sounds and smells; Don’t sweat the small stuff – While it’s all well and good, it wasn’t until I learned the problem-solving piece that I felt like I really understood what I needed to do, and what I needed to remember.
In the moment, in this moment, there is no problem to solve.
And it sounds simplistic, and easy to argue: Of course there are problems. We don’t have enough money. The car’s in the shop. The kids are always fighting. The 2 year old’s sick. The 4 year old’s having a tantrum. I have to make dinner and make lunches for tomorrow and get my son to football and my daughter to karate and there’s the thing at church and it’s all just SO MUCH.
Yes. Sure. I get it. I get it.
But right now, right now as you read these words, there are no problems to solve. It’s okay to give yourself (and your brain! Your poor, overworked brain) a break. It’s okay to breathe and NOT WORRY about how you handled that last problem, or how you’re going to handle the next one. It’s okay to truly and deeply and fully live right now, and give yourself permission to rest…. to rest in the moment, to rest in the presence of your child, to rest in the presence of yourself.
Right now, in the moment, there is no problem to solve.
That one piece of truth, heard in the right place and the right time, was probably one of the single best bits of wisdom I’ve ever received… not just for life in general, but for my parenting as well. And I still have to remind myself – often – but I’m getting better.
Right now, there is no problem to solve.
And my shoulders relax, and I’m able to exhale, and my weary soul feels a welcome sense of relief. I don’t have to figure it all out right now. And then, in that moment, I can be the mom I know I can be. The mom I know I should be. And when I miss the mark (and I do sometimes miss the mark, because I’m human)? Then I have the next moment. And then the one after that.
One day, one moment, at a time.
And it sounds kinda hokey, and a little woo-woo (and I hate woo-woo) … but it helps. So much.
You have permission to rest.
Hug your kid, smell the flowers, jump in the mud puddle. Right now, there is no problem to solve.