The other night I was putting my daughter to bed. She is approaching 8 months old and, unfortunately for us, is not the best sleeper. In these short eight months, I have clocked more hours than I can count sitting with her in the rocker in her nursery.
Sometimes she is fussing and requires my attention, but she is often simply asleep in my arms. During this time, I am habitually on my phone. Updating social media, checking comments on my blog, basic online shopping. Things that are fairly easy to do with a cell phone in one hand and a baby in the other.
One night the two of us were in this same position as we have been countless times before. I looked at my daughter, who I thought was asleep, and with the glare of my cell phone, I could see her staring wide-eyed at me. As soon as our eyes locked, she smiled. That sweet, still toothless smile that melts your heart in an instant.
At that moment, I made a vow. I vowed to put down the phone, shut the outside world out just for a few minutes and be there with my daughter.
They say the days are long, but the years are short. No statement has held more truth to me as a mother than this one.
As a mom and part-time stay at home mom, I often feel as though I’m falling behind with everything. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to get done the laundry list (and the actual laundry) that I always have to do. I try to keep the house clean and respond to work emails in a timely manner. On the days I work, it is easier to focus on the tasks at hand, but when I am home, I am also caring for two small children. And as most moms know, multitasking is often what gets us through our days.
But as I am thinking about this concept of being present, I am also thinking about what multitasking has taken away from me:
Yes, I can get the dishes done while my daughter is in her highchair. But then I miss out on the chance to interact with her while she is trying new food.
Sure, I can check social media uninterrupted while my son is watching the latest episode of Paw Patrol. But then I don’t get to take in the feeling of his head resting on my shoulder the way it only does when he is focused on the TV but still wants to be close to me.
The moments we have with our children are fleeting. I already see my 8-month-old developing more independence from me. It won’t be long before I will be dropping her off at school with her older brother and returning home by myself.
I will have time to clean the house and catch up on social media, but I will also not have my babies anymore. I will have children who are able to do more without me. I will be granted the time and space I need to do more of the things that I struggle to get done now.
As much as I am looking forward to some of that freedom, I am also dreading the hole I know will be in my heart when these moments are gone.
As a mother, my to-do list seems to grow longer with each thing I check off. There are always things I can be doing. Dishes that need cleaning. Phone calls and emails to return. Clothes to fold and put away. And while I feel really great when those things are done, I have vowed not to do them at the expense of spending time with my children.
As the days pass and the years are behind us, my memories should not be of how clean my house was, or how up to date I was on Instagram. I want to remember playing with my son and snuggling with my daughter. want to remember what it felt like to look into her eyes as she slowly closed them and drifted off to sleep. The email I would otherwise be reading will still be there once she is asleep, but that moment I could have had with her will not be.
So as my children grow up, just like I did that one night in my daughter’s room, I vow to be present.