This morning, my husband, Brian, took the kiddos to their dentist appointment. Ahhh, a few hours at home by. my. self.
I have needed this time alone. I had the (crazy!) expectation (ohhh how expectations create suffering!) back in December that “once this holiday season is over, once I am done with a few big projects I am working on, I’ll have more time to write and attend to the Barefoot Barn.” But then new “to do’s” happen. And while I feel like I am pretty good at time management and limit-setting, it is a CONSTANT mindfulness practice to remember: THIS is what matters. To remember to mind your time, energy, attention, and focus “output” because the abyss of social media and distractions in our lives can keep us doggy paddling, panting for a rope to pull us to shore. To remember that we’ve got to PAUSE in order to WAKE UP and CHOOSE how we are going to live this moment.
So awhile back, I made a pact with myself: whatever I am doing – whatever project I am working on or email I am in the middle of – when my kiddos arrive home, I stop what I am doing. I turn my body toward them. I give them my presence. I hug them, hold them, look them in the eye…and I linger.
It only takes a few minutes. But for those few minutes, I am present. Totally.
I used to do this when they were little — either putting them into the car seat or getting them out of the car. Just pausing, looking in their eyes and smiling before we ventured off into the world. It was a tender moment of us connecting. It could easily get hustled, hurried, passed over or ignored. But somehow I had the wits about me to do these “car seat moments.” And now, they don’t need help getting into and out of the car. They are growing up and more independent. That moment is gone.
So now here is this moment, this opportunity: they arrive home, I stop what I am doing.
There are other “mindful moments” in our day:
~ in the morning when we all wake up, we linger. We hang out. I look at them. We cuddle. I give them my presence.
~ before they walk in to school, we pause and we hug. I give them my presence and my smile. No matter how late we are. No matter how hurried we might have felt. I want the last moment before my babies head off “into the world” to be one of connection…because, you know, you really never know if that’ll be the last time we see each other or not.
~ at bedtime Brian and I both lay with our kiddos. Yes, I am often REALLLY tired. I’ve been “going” for 14 hours (oh why even count the time, right?!). But we lay together in the darkness, after brushing teeth, after a story. I feel their bodies become still. I feel their breath become deeper and longer. Some times there are things that they bring up and talk about – in the darkness, in the stillness. And I tell myself, “This is what matters. Just be here.” Yes, there are times that I just gotta get up. There are times when I am like, “OMG, you gotta go to sleep.” But I’ve eased up on myself about that. That’s ok to feel.
I see these exact “mindful moments” in our day as ritual, sacred…and prayer. As though we were in a monastery with bells ringing at specific times in the day to remind us to “come back to center” and a “call to prayer,” these “mindful moments” ARE my meditation bells. They are my time of prayer. They are weaved into our bodily memory so we do them so instinctively now. And when we’ve had a really crappy day – I’ve yelled, been all focused on work, harped on Brian in front of the kiddos – having these “mindful moments” structured into our day — they are a built-in invitation to reconnect and begin again.
Dear readers, you can try this: “schedule” these mindful moments. Put them into your calendar until they become habits. Let them become a ritual so deeply weaved into your heart and body that when things get really hectic and crazy, they serve as meditation bells, a call to prayer, a call to remember that connecting with our dear ones matters most.
Do share the “mindful moments” of your day with us so we can all learn from and empower each other.
Lisa A. McCrohan
MA, LCSW-C, RYT
Mom. Compassion Coach. Psychotherapist. Delight passionista.
** Folks, I’m glad you are a part of this community. If you’d like to receive Gems in your inbox, click “follow.” I hope these gems nourish you today and you are inspired to live with more delight, compassion, and connection in your everyday life. Visit the Barefoot Barn for more information or contact me about mindful/compassion coaching, psychotherapy, workshops and retreats.