Being Present.

I'm trying to remember Liam crawling, but I almost can't. (But that was seven years ago, wasn't it?)
The thing is, I can't really remember Aoife or Fiona crawling, either. I know they did it. I can picture the way Fiona crawled, with one leg out straight like a paddle. But I can't picture her face, or how fast she went, or what she liked to crawl over to get. This was only a year ago. This was actually only ten months ago. I've already forgotten.
The stages of my children's babyhood are most easily remembered when we weren't at home: I can remember what each of them was like during each month we have spent up at the lake, I can remember what each of them was like on vacations we took. I remember what they were doing, what they enjoyed, what they ate, and how and when they slept. But the every day? The at home? It's left me. They've grown before my eyes, changing every day so very slightly that I didn't remember to try to freeze-frame yesterday for posterity. They have grown up while I was trying to do their laundry and make their dinner and clean up after them. While life spun past me, they have grown up.
Now, it's happening again. I'm conscious of it this time: how am I going to not miss this? How am I going to not forget?
I have a few strategies right now.
The first is why all my day's posts are posted at night: during the day, I keep my laptop tucked away in a little stairwell office. I'm not embarrassed to admit my lack of self control. When I'm home alone with the babies, if it's on the counter, I just can't help it. I open it, I look at it. I get distracted. So I've done this very conscious thing, I've hidden it, and I don't turn it on. It's not available to me. The babies are. This is a gift.
My second strategy is that I don't have a smartphone. Archaic, I know, but it's really quite a beautiful thing. I can't tell you how desperately I never want to have one. I feel so blessed not to be distracted by the thought of being in communication with everyone I know at every single fast-paced, pulsing moment of my life. I feel so blessed to know that because I am out of the house I have absolutely no obligation to be reachable. I have no need to respond. All that will come later, and it can all wait. All of it can wait.
But my children cannot. They are growing up before my eyes. If I spend too much time amping myself up on the social adrenaline rush of email and Facebook and blogs I will miss out on some very beautiful things. Please don't feel defensive. This is not a judgment, just my choice. It makes my life easier.
My third strategy which I am really working on is compartmentalizing tasks I need to do and time spent playing with my children. This means my children get better time playing with me, and also longer stretches of time where they must amuse themselves. Both of these things are important. So instead of trying to fold laundry on the sly while the girls play beside me, I am trying to remember to say, "I am going to fold these three baskets of laundry and then we are going to get out the play dough and play together". My efficiency goes up, and the quality of my time does, too. I have more fun. I worry less.
Lastly I am trying to take the extra moment. This is a long, sustained breath, a pause, where I simply extend something lovely because I can. When I'm sitting in the rocking chair with Fiona before her nap, and Maeve is also ready for her nap, and I have a long list of things to do while they both sleep, I lean back in the chair before I get up, nestle my nose into Fiona's hair, and rest for a minute. I pull her in close to my heart for just an extra moment, because we're both there, and I love her so much. Nothing is more important than that. Nothing is more sacred than just that little extra minute when I'm thinking of nothing but the beauty of that time.

What helps you slow down? How do you help yourself stay "here"?


  1. I ought to lock my laptop up in a closet during the day! To be fair, I've been pretty good about keeping off it (mostly) but it's all too easy to "just check this one email..." and 15-20-30 minutes later you're still on the computer and the little ones are tugging at your arm for attention. I second your feelings on smartphones. I have an emergency-only cell phone that I carry with me when I am running errands, in case the car breaks down. I hope to never need anything else.

  2. Having the computer on during the day is my weakness. I turn it on to check email for work (and check in again and again . . .) and because I don't have regular work hours I try to sneak in work too often during the day. There are some changes afoot here that (hopefully) will give me some more scheduled hours at which point I will make a stronger effort NOT to work when I'm with my kids. There are times I would find a smartphone (or any phone) handy when I'm out, but I have resisted because I see how they take over people's lives (likely despite good intentions). Today I turned off the radio in the car during our long ride and talked to Kathleen (and then listened to her as she read a book to a new stuffed animal and then "chatted" with him).

  3. I have started making myself a cup of tea. And then SITTING DOWN to drink it. Slowing down. I have tried to do the same thing with chores. Complete a task - then play. Ie. do dishes. Stop and play. Switch out laundry. Stop and play. xo