If I can just get through the next three hours, it will be bedtime for the kids and I will get a few minuted to myself. I’ll sit on the couch in a stupor and medicate with TV.
If I can just get through this line at the grocery store, I can go home and pee.
If I can just get through this last client, I can go home to my children.
If I can just get through the next ten minutes of nursing Emily, then I can go out and turn on the coffee.
If I can just get through Jack’s third tantrum of the day, then it will be quiet and I can eat a sandwich.
I find myself thinking like this all the time. I don’t like it. It sometimes seems that my life is just a series of events that I have had to “get through.” After I’ve “gotten through” whatever it is, I open my eyes and another chunk of my life has passed while I’ve been barely cognizent of it.
I don’t taste the sandwich, feel the bedtime hugs, or relish the sweet sights and sounds of my babies. This mindset also inhibits my ability to truly connect and relate with other humans.
Time has accelerated exponentially since I had Jack and Emily. There is never enough time, and yet, I find myself willfully squandering it multiple times per day. Wishing it away.
My husband once read an article about why time seems to move so much slower for children. He said that it was thought to be because children are so much more aware of everything going on, that their sense of mindfullness is more alert because life is not old hat for them yet. It is an interesting concept to me, and one that makes me try to open up my eyes a little wider to the everyday events in which I partake.
Changing a diaper or quelling a tantrum can be seen as a chance to connect, rather than another chore.
It is part of our societal norm to be “future focused,” and to obsess about what is next, rather than staying in the moment. We can also dwell on the past, or what could have been. As a clinical social worker, I’ve seen this mentality cause a lot of problems for people. It creates thought patterns of anxiety and depression. While my professional practice is varied in terms of techniques and theory, I have come to be more reliant on the theories that stress mindfullness and being present in the present. I am not ashamed to say that these are techniques that have greatly aided me as well in both my professional and personal life.
There is a goofy line from the movie Kung Fu Panda, in which the teacher tells his impatient student, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” I am also not ashamed to say that I’ve found enlightenment in the movies of my children.
So, the first step is awareness, I suppose. Like the bumper stickers say, “First Things First,” and “Be Here NOW.”
The next time I find myself thinking, “If I can just get through this dinner, then I can update my Facebook about how stressful it was,” I will stop, breathe, and cherish the present.
It is a start to a journey that I hope I can slow down, just a bit.