It's too easy to disengage from our children by daydreaming of personal needs (I need/want to get X done), or to spend our time regretting the past (why didn't the birth turn out better), or worrying about the future (will I be able to do X for her).
Being fully present in the moment, in the right Now, takes conscious awareness and effort. It's tougher for some than others. Being present is one of the biggie parenting issues of the last 5 years. For me, it was part of who I am, and part of wanting so much more for her than I had in my childhood. And I have embraced it. Not always succeeding of course, but embraced it and strove towards it, and come pretty darn close.
In my recent quest to declutter my mind, and to deal with the frustration of having so little time to myself, of accepting that, I came to a realisation, as we were out walking.
Firstly, I should say that I've come a long way through that acceptance. It brings peace of course, yet acceptance can't remove what is a soul need. I am afterall a Mindful Mama, and a creative mama, and a mystical-spiritual mama, who is up half the night, has a spirited child, craves silence, and only gets 2hrs a day of time alone.
So, the realisation was...... that being present as much as I am, in my situation, wasn't necessarily the best choice for us. Or at least, not any longer.
When we were walking, I was in the moment. I watched her poke different objects with her stick. I noticed what she noticed, what she took interest in, and heard the few words she uttered. I was in the essence of her simple happiness being out with her mama, stick in hand, meeting the world. I also enjoyed the Winter sun and the fresh air.
Sounds lovely, right?
Except that later that day my mind and my body were still craving the nurturing that I wasn't giving them. My body STILL needed sleep, and my mind STILL needed space and silence.
So on the next walk I thought, what did I lose if I wasn't quite as present during this walk? Or, what did different thing did I gain?
I stopped being as present and gave my mind the permission to wander. During the 1hr part-present walk...
- my girl had her mama right by her side
- she held her mama's hand
- she was content and secure
- she had fun
- I watched her explore her world
- I took joy in her simple discoveries and experiments
- I compiled a poem in my head, as well as a couple of blog posts.
- I made a decision about my creative life
This was a conscious de-presenting (?!), but I have actually been doing it for some time now. However, when it's been unconscious it's more of a disengagment, and it is often followed by guilt, or guilt at not feeling guilty. So not being present is actually really easy. It's more about being aware and making the choice to be or not to be, as it were. And not feeling bad for choosing not to be.
This is the dilema of the Mindful Mama - wanting to do it right for their child but needing the balance. Desperate for mind space yet choosing to be always available to her in these formative years.
I'm certainly not advocating not being present. I do believe that learning to be so engaged with my little one has enriched both our lives beyond measure. And learning to be present first is helping me now to understand and be conscious of being otherwise. Because it is a delicate balance, the scales can easily dip too far in either direction.
Ironically, it has supported my Present time. I had begun to disengage and daydream about what I wanted to be doing. Now I'm able to give myself fully to her, consciously deciding that this is our connecting time. And knowing that afterwards, I will allow myself the daydreaming whilst we walk or sit or cuddle together.
But it's a tightrope right now..... I'm learning, I'm pulling my hair out, I'm sitting in peace, I'm enjoying the love and deep connection, I'm exhausted most of the time, I'm relishing re-engaging with myself, I worry of unbalance...... it's all a journey.