Being In The Moment
By Mike Fields
“What do we want most for our children?” The most common answer is that we simply want them to be happy. Of course the answer is usually followed by worry; how can we ensure that our child is and will be happy? We wonder if they'll ever say “mommy,” or be out of diapers, or have friends, or even fall in love? We wonder if we've made the right choices about school, therapies and any number of extracurricular or social activities? We wonder how we will fit everything in and maintain our sanity? And, we wonder about the future. How we will maintain our relationships, our jobs and pay for everything our child needs? It can really be overwhelming, anxiety producing and frustrating – not just for us, but for our kids, as well. They know when we are distracted, when we aren't “present.” When those thoughts pile up on us, it can take us out of the moment and away from what we want most and what our children need.
Sure, we want our kids to have been happy in the past, but we can't change it. The best we can carry from the past is fond memories of triumphs, and lessons learned from defeat. The best we can hope for tomorrow is for our child to continue to grow and thrive. What we do have the power to affect is the present. “What am I going to do now?” Our choices in the present will hopefully influence the future, but we can be sure they will impact “right now.”
When we spend time with our children, it can be hard to be in the moment. We might bring our own agendas or our own issues to the game. If we can set all of that aside, what we can learn about our children (and ourselves) can be really exciting. One problem might be that we aren't enjoying ourselves. Let's face it, some self-regulatory things kids do (my son liked lining up cars) are pretty boring. So one strategy is to take your focus off the activity and put it back on your child. Set your own preconceived ideas aside and just join your child. That can help you understand “what is it?” about this activity that is interesting to your child. It can open a door into how they think and feel. Then, once you have found that opening, you can start to mix it up. At first, the activity might be boring or even stressful to you (you might be embarrassed or worried about what other people might be thinking), but when you make that connection, when you see the gleam in their eye... there is nothing in the world like it. And in that moment, nothing else in the world matters.
We can’t know what our child's future may bring. But, imagine that the future is filled with more of those moments of joyful shared experiences? Imagine being really connected with your child and seeing his (her) eyes light up. Imagine seeing your child happy, just being with you. Can you imagine a better future? OK, stop imagining that feeling, and now go experience it. Go play with your child, now…and enjoy!