Feeling Present

I don’t read that many blogs religiously, so it’s funny that two of the blogs I keep up with recently wrote about the same topic pretty much on the same day. Being present with your kids and feeling guilty when you’re not. It was interesting to me because it seems to be such a universal issue among vastly different moms and lifestyles. TheGirlWho writes from home and EarthMama farms and if you read the comments, they range from working outside the home moms to stay-at-home moms and everyone in between. We all feel it.

But when did we start or did we always? I really don’t think my mother worried about “being present” for her 4 kids. She just did it. And I know my grandmother with her 6 kids didn’t give a crap if she was present or not. When did we start worrying about this? And has the worrying been another distraction from being present with our kids? Have we become too “meta” about parenting? Or is wanting to be present a good thing?

I guess I thought that this guilty feeling was more of a working outside the home mom feeling because you are with your kids less hours, you feel like every minute has to count. But it seems like from these two posts and the comments that it applies to other moms as well. When did we start feeling guilty for thinking about the dishes or that book we want to read when we’re playing with matchbox cars?

The best moments I have are when I’m not thinking about it but when I’m lost in the tower we’re making or the picture we’re drawing. And sometimes, Z. is lost in his own play and I slip out of the room. Because he doesn’t need me to be present in that moment. In fact, if I was, it would distract him and he would lose what he was doing. So that’s the time I do what I feel like I need to do, like the dishes or knitting. And then I will hear the “A-Mummy?” and then I know it’s time.

A-Mummy?

My little boy says this all the time. “A-Mummy?” “Yes Z?” And then he shows me a new dance move or a funny face. Or sometimes he has nothing but breaks into a pose.
I admit, I find it frustrating sometimes. “Z, I’m right here.” I’ll say because it feels like the hundredth time. “I’m sitting right next to you.”

But am I? Am I really? Yes I’m sitting in the same room with him or next to him on the couch but am I involved with what he’s doing or am I eyeing the Athleta catalogue on the coffee table? Am I really building a tower of blocks with him or am I thinking about something that happened at work?

I think “A-Mummy?” is a reminder. A reminder to be mindful to really be with him. The times I am, I’m happiest and the most content so it is a good reminder no matter how frustrating. And sometimes it is frustrating, annoying even. For example, I feel no obligation to not take a break and do something else when he’s watching Thomas. I think he should be able to play by himself sometimes and let me make dinner. And I think that’s okay. But I need to remember when he is saying “A-Mummy?” over and over that he’s reminding me. I am first and foremost a mummy and I need to be present.