Something I hear all the time lately is to “be in the moment.” Aren’t we always being told to focus on the present, Be Here Now, and appreciate the little things, because IT ALL GOES SO FAST!! People especially love to say this to new moms.
I always want to tell these people, “Look, I get that your baby grew up overnight and is now graduating college and you’re all sentimental about it, but mine is still an ACTUAL BABY who gets up in the middle of the night and demands attention and nourishment and diaper changes 24/7. So excuse me if I don’t agree with you that this time is as fleeting and precious as a rainbow.”
While we’re at it, let’s talk about this “being in the moment” thing. When people say that, I think they are picturing moments such as your baby taking his first steps. Laughing in delight as a butterfly lands on his nose in a meadow of wildflowers. A puppy licking ice cream off his chin. Watching your little angel sleep peacefully in his crib. Well, who WOULDN’T want to be in THOSE moments?!
What about the moments when you’re waiting in line at the pharmacy and your child is plucking every single pack of gum off the rack and then rummaging in the wastebasket that’s probably filled with used hypodermic needles? What about the moments when you’re in church and your baby is releasing toxic fumes into the air and his diaper? What about the moments when you take your child to get a haircut during your lunch hour and for no reason whatsoever, he throws a complete fit? Anyone lining up to be fully present in THOSE moments? Anyone??
What many people fail to understand is, when you have a small child, there are many, many, MANY moments in the day. Too many, some might say. Considering that many babies wake up at, oh, let’s say 6 a.m. and may not go to bed till at least 7:30 p.m. – and even then it’s probably not for a solid 8-10 hours – that’s 13 ½ HOURS WORTH OF MOMENTS!! (OK, you can subtract a couple for a nap.) Even the Dalai Lama could not be fully present and at peace for that many moments in a row!
In fact, much of early parenthood is not about savoring the moments, but rather about getting through them. My friend L.H.’s baby gets up at the ungodly hour of 5:30 a.m. every day. So she takes her for long walks in the stroller to pass the time until she has to go to work. When people say “be in the moment,” you can be sure they’re not considering moments that occur before 8 a.m., people!! Before COFFEE, even!
These are the moments you’ll find me “being in”: when I come downstairs wearing earrings and a nice shirt and Miles says, unprompted, “Oh, you look pretty, Mommy!” That puddle on the floor? That’s my heart melting. Or even less emotional moments, like this morning when we’re brushing our teeth and he says, “We all have eyebrows.” How awesome is that? He is like a tiny Zen Buddhist, full of awareness and wisdom.
We leave tomorrow for our annual vacation at the beach with the family, so I’m taking a week off. Wish me luck – I’m sure our trip will be filled with all sorts of moments.
NEWS O’ THE WEEK: Calling all writers and would-be writers! I’m teaching an online class starting Aug. 20, called “Personal Essays that Get Published.” The 6-week e-mail class will teach you how to find ideas, how to craft catchy openings and solid endings, and how to submit your work to magazines.
Several of my blog entries here have turned into essays published in such places as American Baby, Health magazine, the Baltimore Sun, and the Boston Globe. So if you’re interested in writing for fame and profit, sign up now before the last few spots fill up! More info here.
QUOTE O’ THE WEEK: “Feed the baby, wipe off the barf, change stinky diaper, kiss your husband, sign your best-selling book – just another typical day in the life of a mommy!”