As a new mother, I was especially keen on how I viewed what would make me a better mother and what wouldn’t. I was very judgmental in my views of myself. My views became so narrowed in their focus, however, that I was missing the bigger picture. In trying to live up to an unrealistic self-imposed standard, I set myself up for failure, I argued frequently with my husband and most importantly, I was not very present as a mother.
I’ve since begun to see things differently. Perhaps post-divorce means I’ve let go of some of my over-bearing tendencies. Or perhaps I’m now able to see the forest through the trees. It’s all a work in progress.
As adults, my kids won’t care how long they were breastfeed, how long their mother made their baby food from scratch, how many times she washed their cloth diapers or how many play dates she arranged. No. I’ve decided what has mattered and what will matter most to them revolves around how present I can be for them as a mother. To hear what they’re saying and what they’re not saying when they are feeling whatever they are feeling. By being able to “be there” for them, I am also showing them how to show up for life: fully present and fully accounted for.
Yes, they do have more “screen time” than I’d like to admit. Yet there are some boundaries that I have set. I’m doing my best to keep them present, for the days of their time at home are numbered. What I want for my grandchildren are parents that can show their love by being present. As Thich Nhat Hanh has said, “The Present Moment is a gift.” In a way, I’m paying things forward.
I am grateful to have recognized this while my children are still relatively young. Sadly, this shift did not occur overnight. Yet, now that I am more aware and more present, this understanding helps me to keep my focus on what’s important: being present with my kids.
So that also means less screen time for mama now, too. I have discovered how much I had been escaping the present via my writing, texting, blogging and time spent over the years on dating sites, and social media sites. Now when I find myself “searching” online for something, I often find what I’m seeking is a greater degree of presence in my own life. Yet, somehow I’ve feared it. By focusing on being perfect on the outside, I had been neglecting the inside. In letting go of another layer of Perfectionism, I am able to be more present and to enjoy what I have more and more.