About a month or two ago, I noticed a pattern I was falling into. You see, I work full time in the school system, Monday - Friday, from about 7:30 in the morning until around 4:30 in the afternoon. I have two days off a week (weekend).
My busy, rambunctious little baby Zachary goes to bed every night around 7 or 7:30. This means that on week days I have a precious 2.5 to 3 hours with him. The weekends are the only time during the school year, besides breaks, that I can be home with him all day and just enjoy being his mom.
What I noticed that day a few months ago is that I was too busy being "busy" during my Z time (i.e. time I should have been focused on him.) I mean, I was watching him and making sure he was safe, but I was not mindfully there for him. For example, I'd come home from school and need to run a ton of errands - Target, grocery store, post office, etc. Most of my time with him was him being behind me in the car, strapped into his car seat. Or, on the weekends I have to clean my house, right? So Z would be in his pack in play or even safely playing in our family room, but mommy would be over organizing papers, clipping coupons, cleaning in the kitchen or even (gasp!) on her cell phone. I was filling my Z time with other things than Z. Or, I was with him but my mind was elsewhere. What needs to be cleaned, what do I have to cook, what is everyone up to on Facebook...
Almost every day I realize how fast this whole thing is going, how fast Zachary is growing up. He was just a teeny tiny baby, and now he is 10.5 months old. While I try take a bazillion actual pictures and a quadruple billion mental pictures, nothing really takes the place of just BEING with him and ENJOYING him. I had a complete breakdown that fateful day, crying because life is going too fast, he is growing fast and also wanting to go go go fast himself. He seems determined to grow up, get bigger, master the next step in his development, and I just want him to be a baby!
That's when I decided that I had to CHOOSE to be in the moment with him. I had to be more mindful about actually being with him, and letting him me the sole object of my attention. The cleaning can wait until he goes to bed, and even then, if it doesn't get clean, who cares?! It'll get done eventually, or I'll hire a maid. Target is fun and all, for ME, but for him? I try not to go so much, or I try to get my errands done on my way home from work when Dave or mom or someone can watch him. That way I can whip around the store fast and get home to being with him. Chores and errands and those monotonous parts of life in general can creep up on me and trick me into believing I have to get them done right then and there, but that is not true. Sometimes chores and errands can't be helped, but since I've been more mindful of time with Z, I've found that 90% of the time they can wait.
My son needs me, right now and right here. He will not be small forever. He will not need me forever. Soon, his face won't be so babyish, it'll still be sweet and the most beautiful face on this earth, but he will grow out of this adorable stage. I just love sitting with him, playing with him on purpose. I've been getting better at ignoring the call of the thousand things that need to be done around us. When we play together on the floor of our family room, or his room, or his basement play area, or outside on our lawn...time seems to stand still. Life stretches out and relaxes a little bit with us. Zachary will choose to explore on his own still, but since I am there I get to WATCH him. I'm noticing how he learns, how he explores objects with his hands and mouth. I'm learning even more of his expressions and thought processes. Its the most beautiful thing in the WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD. Every now and then, he'll crawl over to me and throw those hands up for me to hold him, and I'm so glad I am there for it. I'd be missing it if I was in the kitchen, or putting his laundry away!
I'm more in awe of him, more in tune with his needs, and time seems to be slowing down just a tad.
I think this is true of anyone we love. Life is so sneaky about creeping up on us and stealing our mindfulness and our joy of being with others. The laundry, the cooking, the stupid (STUPID) cell phones (ok, I love mine and can't live without it, but it's STUPID!) they all take up space in our brains and scream at us constantly for attention. But our loved ones, they may not always ask us for our attention. I needed to re-learn how to just be with someone. That's it, no other steps. No TV, no phones, nothing. Just me, him and the world around us to explore.
Mindfulness is a choice. If I don't choose it every moment, it's gone forever. If I hadn't stopped my own world a little bit that day and realized what was going on, I may have missed so many precious moments.
Zachary, baby boy, you are teaching mama so much!
I do keep my phone around, however, so I can catch these ridiculously cute moments...