Be Present

Okay, so I will be the first to admit that parenting is the hardest job I've ever held. There are days when mountains look like molehills, and other days when I think I've hit the point of no return. I am not sure I can even recall what it was like to come home to a quiet, empty house after work and enjoy some serenity before dinner. That seems so long ago, and my days are now filled with a hectic pace, often reminding me I need to carve out more opportunities to simply BE.

Perhaps you have had similar experiences. I remember how exhilarated I was one afternoon when my husband decided to take the kids to Dave and Busters for a few hours. As soon as they backed out of the driveway and I was sure they exited the neighborhood, I seized the opportunity to put on my stretchy clothes, relax on the couch, pull out one of my novels, open a bag of Funyuns and relish my four straight hours of what my kids have coined selfie time (which I believe they were even using before hand held devices made the grand selfie debut). Sure, those several hours appeared to morph into four minutes, but I was grateful for that window of time when I could just be.

Likewise, I recall the Saturday that I needed to make a quick run to Target, a good 30-minute drive from our house. I tentatively asked if anyone wanted to join me, and the response was surprisingly, "No thanks, Mommy!" Are you kidding? I actually was going to be able to enter a store without my children squabbling with one another or asking me to buy everything on the shelf! Leaving the house quickly before family members changed their mind, I drove slightly under the speed limit as I hit the road, belted out some oldies-but-goodies while increasing the volume on the radio, and enjoyed my short, long-overdue vacation. Strolling through the shopping aisles at a measured pace was heavenly! I could actually do careful price comparisons, buy coffee at Starbucks without anyone begging me to buy the mega-brownie in the display case, put groceries in the shopping cart without inquiries about how many more items were left on my list, and make it through the entire store without having to take a bathroom break.

Then, at some point, I decided to extend my vacation, and now began to find reasons to stay in the store. I wandered up and down the aisles, investigated how the design and fabric of bed sheets had changed since I last purchased them, drifted into the tool section, wandered through the greeting cards area, and even managed to explore the arts and crafts section, considering whether I wanted to take up calligraphy. A good two hours passed before I actually left the store, and to this day, I still recall my extended Target trip with great fondness.

I have to admit though; my most significant memory of finding time to BE wasn't during selfie time. Believe it or not, I actually shared this moment with my daughter. Yes, that's right. This is the same daughter who I was fleeing from in the previous paragraphs in an effort to have some privacy and space. Well this time, we both found some privacy and be...together.

You see, occasionally my husband and I decide to split off with the kids and enjoy time with them alone. This particular night was our special mommy-daughter date and though I was quite tired after a long week at work, I vowed to make this an evening where she was my only focus. In fact, I gave her free reins for our date. She picked our entertainment for the evening (movie) and dinner selection (Pizza Hut). I even held my own opinions when she decided we should sit in the very front row of the theater. I figured I would tolerate the temporary inconvenience of neck craning and eye straining for the sake of a memorable date night. During the movie, we shared some pink lemonade, Junior Mints and popcorn (note: I loathe Junior Mints), and idled close to enjoy our special time with one another. We laughed and became misty-eyed at just the right moments. As we left the theater together, my daughter said, "This was the best night ever. I even liked it better than Nutella."

So there you have it, from the mouth of an eight year old. I'm not a fan of Nutella either, but if my daughter's favorite toast spread is trumped by mommy time, I'll take it! I'm sure I will find opportunities in the future for selfie time, but I have also moved to the realization that finding that sweet spot with your own family can be just as enjoyable.

So give it a try! I certainly am happy to provide readers with some pointers and helpful tips. Should you wish to contact me, please know that I'll be on vacation Saturdays from 10 - noon, but can be reached in an emergency at Target.