The Lifelong Lesson my Daughter Keeps Teaching me About Being Present, Slowing Down, & Enjoying the Little Things (and what she can teach you too)
This morning, I was on an all out mission to get the dishes done.
(That’s the story of my life every morning, let’s be honest.)
Madison wanted some mommy time, but rather than give it to her, I opened up the utensils drawer to distract her and buy me 5 more minutes to get this task on my to-do list checked off.
(I’m a sucker for a check on my to-do list)
It worked for a good 10 minutes.
But then, she wanted mommy again.
I wasn’t quite finished, but I took a few breaths and asked myself what was more important: doing these dishes, or spending some quality time with my daughter?
Obviously, the answer was the latter.
She was sitting on the floor in the middle of the kitchen, pointing to the ground right next to her, motioning for me to sit with her.
I plopped right down next to her, gave her the other half of her banana, and we both sat there, side by side, as she nourished her body with the banana, and her soul with her mama by her side.
After about three minutes, she was satisfied. She got up and went to the living room to play.
That’s all it takes for her. Just a few minutes to re-calibrate, reconnect, and get some quality time with her mama.
In my rush to get things done, I’m constantly missing these opportunities, the ones she never fails to offer to me, to just sit, slow down, breathe, and enjoy the moment. Even if it’s just eating a banana on the floor of the kitchen early in the morning.
I get caught in my head and think, “But I have so many things to do! I can’t take these breaks throughout the day to just sit and do nothing!” I fear that it will take hours of time away from my to-do list, when in reality, it’s never more than a few minutes. And I can surely spare a few minutes every so often throughout the day to enjoy my daughter, and accept her gift of bringing me into the present. Because the truth is, nothing else matters. The present is all we have. The past is gone. The future hasn’t come yet (and there is no guarantee that it ever will). If I can’t enjoy the present moment, then what is any of this for?
When it comes to anxiety, Madison is my antidote. My default is to rush. To be speedy. To be efficient. To get five things done instead of just two because, well, I can!
I take Madison down to the beach a few times a week, and there are about 80 steps on the stairs to get down (we counted), followed by a long pathway to get to the ocean. I try not to be, but I often find myself on a time crunch (we need to be back by X time for dinner, we only have one hour until Y comes over, so we have to get back). But Madison doesn’t understand time yet (lucky girl!). So she takes a few steps, and then stops and sits down to take a break. Inevitably, she points to the spot next to her, motioning for me to sit down and join her in the pause. Most of the time I hurry her along (“come on, let’s get to the ocean!”), but sometimes I sit with her too.
This will go on all the way down the 80 steps, and will continue down the pathway to the beach as she zig zags back and forth between either side of the walls along the path, testing out each spot like Goldie Lox testing out beds (the walls are low enough for her to wiggle her little butt up onto).
(notice her finger pointing to the ground next to her)
I always seem to be focused on the destination (in this case, the ocean).
But not Madison. Madison is focused on the journey. She is the journey.
I have a lot to learn from her. And every time she orders me to sit next to her, she invites me to explore what it means to live. For life truly isn’t about the destination, but rather, it’s about the journey. At the tender age of one and a half, Madison gets that. I know that soon she will develop language, and she will develop that sense of urgency to do more, be more, and get more done, just like the rest of us have. And I, as her mother, will do my best not to let her fall prey to that way of living. That anxiety ridden, future looking, not-present way of being that seems to bestow each and every one of us who enter adulthood.
I’m not sure how I’ll do it, but my guess is the first and most powerful way is to lead by example. I need to embody her example, and model it for her as she grows, reminding her of the wisdom she already possesses, that life happens in the moments, the spaces, the seconds that make up a minute.
So with that, wherever you are right now, I want you to imagine Madison, pointing to the ground next to her where she sits. Sit next to her. Look around you. Take it in. If only for a moment.
This. This is life. This is what it’s all about. You have it now. You may not have it tomorrow. So enjoy it in all of its wonder and simplicity. As it is. Right. Now.
Love, love, love,
Lauren & Madison