Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Being Present for Others and God

One of the hardest parts of staying home with the girls all day is the temptation I constantly wrestle with to "check out".  At any given moment, I know that I could slip away for a second and check my email, read a few pages from a book, clean up a multitude of messes, etc. etc.  And clearly, these aren't bad things to be doing.  In fact, it is necessary that I do all of these things at some point.  That there are all of these things that "need" to be done makes it even harder to realize when I have departed from my primary mission--to be present with the girls, to give them my full attention---in exchange for one of these far less important tasks.

And it is a big deal.  Once I get wrapped up in a task or chore, I am often gone (in my mind or my heart or both) for a long time.  Sure, the girls are safe and going about whatever it is they're doing, but they're missing out on me and I'm missing out on them.  Additionally, it is the times where I find myself carried away by other things that I find myself most frustrated as a stay at home mom.  Rather than focusing on the girls and finding delight in them, I am preturbed that they made so much mess for me to clean up, or I am frustrated that I don't have enough time to finish that next chapter of my book.  My day becomes one annoyance after another, and surely all three of us suffer when this becomes my mindset.  My relationship with them becomes scarily conditional.

I have done various things to counteract my tendency to check out.  I decide that I'll structure my day in a certain way or make lists to keep track of things I want to do when I have some free time.  But the truth is, none of this really works.  Not for long anyway.  Before the first day is up, I find some excuse to slip away, and the cycle is renewed.  It is maddening and I end up feeling disappointed in my lack of self-discipline.

But I think that, finally, I have found the answer.  It's nothing fancy or really very earth-shattering.  It's actually the simplest thing possible.  Every day, every morning, every moment, I just choose them.  I have a running conversation, reminding myself that in this moment, I can choose what's good--and what I, ultimately, want to chose.  I give myself permission to not worry about other things, and I play.  Or I read.  Or I just sit and watch.  But while I'm doing these things, I don't let other things interrupt--in my mind or otherwise.  At first it was scary because I thought I would be bored.  But I've discovered that I actually LIKE being with my kids.  Who knew?

It's funny how there is always a lesson about God in this little life that I live.  As I've learned how to be a daily chooser of checked in motherhood, I've had some realizations about how this is all really a microcosm of what my relationship with God is like.  There, too, it's easy to check out because of distracting stuff.  There, too, can I get frustrated with God because I only see the messes and quibbles.  But there, too, is the daily, the hourly, the moment-by-moment choice I can make to truly tune in and be present.  It is when I am focused on just showing up and being present--letting go of all other expectations and agendas--that I get to know God and remember that I LIKE and BELIEVE in following Him.

Here's to God, who truly is our DAILY (and hourly, and second by second) bread!