Children can teach us a lot. Our own children can teach us a lot more. Often times those lessons are painful, but we end up somewhere beautiful once we work through it.
When you have a toddler, for example, you really start to understand how you react when your patience is low, you’re running on little to no sleep, and you feel out of control. It can be ugly. It can be uncomfortable. It can be embarrassing. But it’s a lesson you can get no other way. Think about it – nobody except a sassy 2 year old is going to completely disregard what you’re saying when you ask them not to remove their poopy diaper in the middle of the kitchen, or look you square in the eye while they pour juice on their friend’s mom (no joke, this happened, y’all!) It’s in those moments, when you’re weighing the possibility that nobody will ever want to play with your kid again that you realize you can’t control anything and it’s by the grace of other moms who laugh and say, “been there, done that,” as they’re wringing pineapple juice out of their skirt that you realize your kid probably, most likely, hopefully won’t grow up to be a jerk.
One of the most beautiful lessons that my kids have taught me, though, is how rewarding being fully present is. When I stop what I’m doing on my phone or in the kitchen or on the computer to sit with A and watch what he’s doing, all of his behavior makes sense. He’s living in a world colored with imagination and tempered by instinct (which means he does what he wants when he wants, YOLO!) and it all comes together in this beautiful mishmash of toddler chaos.
M teaches me to be present every day when he refuses to settle while nursing if I’m on my phone. That’s right – the favorite pastime of every nursing mom ever irritates my newborn. Is it because he shares my attention with A all day and values our moments nursing as just ours? I’ll never know. But what I do know is that when I put down the phone and focus on the bond we’re sharing through feeding, he calms down and relaxes, allowing me to do the same.
Being present in all things in life can actually increase productivity and make us feel less stressed, though it’s hard to do when we have a gazillion other things on our mind. Sometimes it takes a loving smile from our newborn (or our toddler smacking the newborn on the top of the head) to drag us back to the present, but whatever it is, let it take you back to what’s most important – the here and now.