“You still have weeks to go” a woman said to me as we stood in line at the market. I had been practicing how to lovingly receive uninvited advice since I began to show signs of a baby growing inside. I kindly smiled at her, then felt the sensation of a labor contraction, one of many that had started at sunrise. A healthy baby was born hours later, a week passed the midwives due date.
I also recall and gratefully hold advice from a mother of teenagers, while I was pregnant with my first child. She shared that many people will say time is fleeting with children, but she discovered that if you stay present, it doesn’t feel so fast. Children will grow but a yearning for what’s next or a longing to go back is not present when we stay present. Change is inevitable and we can choose to fight it or flow in it, but either way, we will move through it. We can wish for our children to stay as they are, or let them be as they are, giving us all space to grow.
The journey of parenthood is full of peaks, valleys, and much in between. Some moments flow like a serene stream while others a raging river. It is natural to want to savor the sweet and speed up the struggle, but both serve us in empowering ways. Being present with our children does not mean being perfect. A path paved by unattainable perfection cannot lead to authentic presence. Being present is about being intentional about our attention, purposefully perceiving where we are and being as we are, with an intention of love.
In the quest to stay present through the ups and downs of parenthood, I have found the following perspective practice to be essential:
Acknowledge unpleasant feelings. Write it or say it out loud to a trusted friend. Release the need to be perfect and create space to be present.
Breathe. Take a deep breath for calm and clarity. Simply noticing the breath can bring our attention to the present moment, a deep breath can calm the body.
Change. Following acknowledgement and calm connection, we can genuinely change our path or perspective to see what is great and be in true gratitude.
Right now we have the gift of life and the honor of guiding other people in living beautiful lives, in our presence, and with our presence.