Parents are always thinking two (sometimes 10) steps ahead of the game. Whether it’s planning dinner or planning your children’s college education, we’re always thinking about the future. In his latest Instagram post, James Van Der Beek acknowledges how easy it is to get lost in the “What ifs” and the worries about who they’re going to be and what they’re going to do, and if we’re doing a good enough job preparing them for the world.
While all of those worries are indeed valid, there’s something really, really big that gets lost in the “bigger picture,” according to Van Der Beek: the present moment.
“Woke up this morning stressed,” the father of five begins. “Thinking about my kids: What I need to teach them, where I’m falling short… how are they going to remember this summer? What kind of world are we creating for them and how am I contributing to it? Am I giving them the skills they’ll need to navigate whatever this crazy-ass future might bring? Are other parents? Yeah, I went deep down that rabbit hole. Before I even got out of bed.”
Been there. BEEN. THERE.
If you haven’t laid in bed with your mind racing about every aspect of your children’s lives, are you even a parent? Lol.
Van Der Beek says he began scrolling through photos of his kids from the previous day on his phone where he did something as simple as take his daughter to the grocery store and buy her a bunch of balloons. And that’s when a realization hit him.
“All we can do is be present with them,” he says. “Sure, keep an eye out for what’s ahead and set some time to plan… but to whatever degree I’m stressing about an unforeseeable future, I’m taking away energy from the present moment. It’s a zero-sum game.”
How true is this? Focusing on one important part of parenthood means you drop the ball on another part. While that’s just part of life, “future thinking” is a common rabbit hole to go down. Being present takes a lot more energy, doesn’t it?
“And as noble as we think we might be pondering the bigger picture… sometimes the most important thing you can do is take a breath, and appreciate the fact that you can make her happy simply by picking her up and giving her all your focus,” he concludes. “Or by buying her balloons.”