Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. In between is wake up, diaper change, trips to potty, nap, get out the toys, put the toys away, into the car seat, out of the car seat….And repeat. As I moved through the never ending steps of day to day parenting I suddenly became aware of my thoughts. “Get through blank so we can blank.” Fill in the blanks with the appropriate duty. Other thoughts floated by. I should get them outside, we should go to the zoo, an art project would really enrich their day, the boys need their toenails cut, pick out their pajamas before bath, what are we going to have for snack, I can’t believe he is hungry again.
Admittedly all of these thoughts are parenting related. They are all important, necessary and wonderful parts of parenting.
But I realized that my mind was overrun with these thoughts while my body and spirit went through the motions of the moment. While changing a diaper I was thinking about getting them loaded into the car. While I was loading them into the car I was wondering if I was going to have to use that obnoxiously huge car cart at the grocery store. As I was pushing my way through the grocery store I was wondering if I would make it home in time for lunch….My mind was always on the next parenting step while my body was left on autopilot, going through the motions of the moment.
I wondered to myself what is parenting? Is it all the planning, thinking, and worrying? Surely my day is smoother when I am prepared for the next step. But in doing so I lose out on so much. I lose This Moment. I lose this opportunity to connect and really be present with my children. And if I am always one step ahead, what is the cost of an infinite series of lost moments?
I stop thinking about what is next and ground myself in the moment. I make eye contact with my child. I smile and connect with him. In This Moment. He touches my hair and laughs. I notice how it feels to be in This Moment, whether it is changing a diaper or clicking a car seat or pushing a huge car cart. And it feels amazing. I realize that children are experts at being in This Moment. They engage fully in it with their entire body, mind and spirit, giving anyone who joins them the amazing opportunity for connection. And when I am here with them, parenting feels more joyous and real and less stressful and overwhelming.
Of course I can’t always be there. Someone has to plan meals and tend to schedules and see the future. But my goal is to remember that stuff is the secretarial work. No doubt it is crucial to a finely tuned family system. But it’s This Moment that matters. This Moment IS parenting.