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MOMMY CHRONICLES: You must be present to win

By Stacy Turner

I was reminded of this sentiment when I bought a raffle ticket for a handmade quilt at a local festival a few months ago.  But I’m learning it applies just as much in our day-to-day lives, too.

You might say that being present is a gift – one you give to yourself and those you love.  It’s something you can choose to do to make even the most monotonous tasks feel better.  Like after a string of cold, gray days that you think will never end, try taking a few minutes to sit quietly and watch the sun rise, spreading golden light and hope across the winter sky.  It only takes a minute or two to savor this gift before rushing on to the next item on your list.

Sometimes being present means freezing your butt off in the bleachers to watch your kid compete in their favorite sport, seeing their face light up when they scan the crowd to catch your eye.  Sometimes, it means stepping away from your phone or computer to look your child (or spouse) in the eye and ask them how their day went, giving your full attention to their reply.  Sometimes, it means noticing what they don’t say is just as important as what they verbalize.  I’m still learning, and I don’t always get it right.  I may not be perfect, but I’m persistent, at least.

With young kids, especially, it’s easy to get stuck in an “on-to-the-next-thing” mentality.  We’re advised to take notice of the milestones, after all.  As a momma of little ones, the days were hectic and full, but often it felt like nothing got done.  I blinked, and they were in school, and our days were hectic in a brand new way.  Throughout all my seasons of parenting, I’ve realized it’s crucial to be present.  It not only helps us savor those quickly disappearing days of childhood but also serves as a guide to make the most of day-to-day life. 

Savoring those pleasant things feels natural – who doesn’t want to focus on what makes us happy?  It’s not quite the word we consider when things are hard, and we’d rather distract ourselves from pain and discomfort.  Ironically, being present and working through the hard stuff is where we learn the most.  And while we don’t savor those times, being present in them is how we make the most of those hard-won lessons. 

It’s especially hard to see our not-yet-grown kids learn life’s lessons the hard way, especially if we navigated a similar path in our youth.  But weathering things like false friendships and learning to set boundaries in little ways gives them the skills to work through larger issues later.  As much as we’d like to protect them, all those mini battles they slug their way through are how they find their own strength.  

Like all parents, I’ve made my share of parenting mistakes.  Parenting is hard.  Despite this, I trust that no matter where my children venture and what they do, they know that I’m present for them.  And that they will always be two of my most cherished wins.