“Asher picked out a rocket Popsicle while I parked the bike and looked for a spot in the sun, eventually setting on a rainbow-colored, oversized hammock. We climbed in and lay next to each other, his head cradled in the nook of my arm, and we swung slowly, gazing up at the giant sycamore trees, new green leaves silhouetted against the blue sky. It was the first time in recent memory that I’d stopped moving, thinking, planning, working, or teaching and done nothing but be in that moment. A moment, I might add, in which Asher stopped talking about Minecraft and Plants Versus Zombies. Instead, as we lay there gently swaying, we talked about spring. And homeschooling. And beauty. And peace and contentedness. And how nature can be a kind of religion. And how important it is to notice and appreciate. And about how sticky hands get when Popsicle juice drips on them.
“[…] When we’re not living in presence, we miss the little things – the bright spots that are there, even when we have to search hard to find them. The tiny growth spurts. The moments of brilliance. The sparks of joy. To experience these things we have to fully be here, open and present.” – Debbie Reber, Differently Wired
It’s tempting for me to be always immersed in my phone, or a book, or a coloring sheet, or even just my to-do list for the day. But I’ve noticed that when I actively engage with my children, when I am present in their games and conversation (even if I am just observing while making dinner or cleaning), their imagination is sparked, their reactions are more positive, their responses are more mature, and their smiles are brighter.
(Also, they tend to be much more accepting of time apart if our time together is truly a time of connection and presence, which allows me to have more space for deeper renewal and refreshment when I need it.)
It isn’t just me, the parent, who benefits when I choose to be present – my children benefit as well. My presence assures them of my love. It demonstrates that they are worthy of authentic attention and connection. It gives them confidence in the value of their ideas. It gives them the opportunity to learn from any experience and wisdom I may have.
And it is in all the moments, silly and stressful, happy and hard, that a deep and lasting relationship can grow between us. If I choose to be mentally elsewhere for those moments, I choose to stunt rather than nurture that relationship. But if I choose to be present, I am choosing to water and fertilize that relationship, and to weed out all the other trivial things that compete with my children for my attention, emotional energy, and time.
Being present means playing peek-a-boo with Aubade when she hides her face in her hands.
Being present means talking in a baby voice for hours because the mommy animals in the house want me to be their baby elephant.
Being present means getting to cheer Limerick on when he chases a ball around the pool and finally manages to grab it, instead of staying oblivious to his persistence and success.
Being present means laughing when Rondel jumps into the pool and totally soaks me with the splash, instead of perceiving it as an interruption of my more important business.
Being present means noticing how Limerick observes and investigates the world around him, constantly soaking up knowledge with his thirsty pattern-loving mind.
And most of all, being present means mutual openness, a sharing of happiness, and a fostering of love. Yes, I need space and time alone – but when I am with my kids, I am going to try to be fully present as much as possible.
If you liked the quote from Differently Wired, read my brief review of the book here and check back in June for the giveaway!
Also, check here for a list of some awesome pre-order bonuses you can receive for no additional cost if you order the book before June 12th!