I am so grateful for my children, but let’s be honest: parenting can test our patience, organizational skills, and if you’re like me, an innate need to control everything. I have noticed that as a busy working mom of two, I often feel overwhelmed, struggling to get everything done. I am never able to sit still and be in the moment. I am too busy worrying about laundry, school lunches, work emails, and scheduling playdates.
I hadn’t realized how bad this had become until my husband and I took our first baby-free vacation in 5 years (woohoo!) and spent the entire first day making a significant effort not to plan every minute of the day. It actually took a conscious effort to relax and enjoy having nothing to do! I couldn’t believe it! While the trip was so wonderful, it made me realize that I really needed to work on living more in the moment.
Ever since that trip, I have become more aware of my inability to relax and be present. The sad thing is I know this affects my kids. I acknowledge that I am not always fully present with them, because I find myself fighting the urge to review my endless to do list, check my email, or update social media. Even with my husband, I let other things take priority, mindless things like checking bank accounts or writing online reviews, rather than focusing on what should be most important, engaging with him.
But luckily something amazing happened recently with my youngest one. She is straddling toddler-hood, still taking sweet naps, first steps and first words, but also is becoming fiercely independent and seeming to need me less and less.
She awoke from her nap this afternoon in an unusual state of panic, seemingly inconsolable. After several minutes of loud sshhhing and rocking, I finally sat down in the rocker tired and confused. As our swaying fell into a rhythm, my daughter nestled in nice and close, and let out a contented sigh. She was in that dreamy half-awake state, eyes barely open, breathing softly, and I stared at her and just watched her rest. My husband poked his head in and quietly mouthed, “what’s going on?” I responded with a shrug and a smile.
As I sat there, I realized that in that moment, all my daughter needed was me. This was her way of seeking out a quiet, comforting moment with mom. There were no distractions, no big brother running around, no smartphones, texting or emailing. Just the reassuring, rhythmic rocking, the warmth of our cuddle, and the sounds of our two breaths, in sync. I pushed aside my busy, anxious thoughts of what I should be doing and instead allowed myself to just sit and enjoy holding my daughter. She began softly rubbing my arm, comforting me, relaxing me, reminding me that it was ok to be in this moment with her and not worry about anything else. So I did.
In her own ability to enjoy this intimately sweet, precious quiet time, she reminded me that these are the moments that are most important as a mother, and encouraged me to recognize them and not let them pass me by. I hope that I can continue to embrace these opportunities to connect with my family, trying my hardest to ignore my busy thoughts and just be. And I encourage you to do the same.