What “Being Present” REALLY Means



On a day to day basis I change several diapers, comb and style hair, drive to school, make meals, wipe noses, breastfeed, read Thomas the Train 400 times, sing songs, comfort cries, discipline and redirect, play ponies and do puzzles, and answer the question “why?” more times than I’d like. I’m there for those moments, my kids are there for those moments, but am I really being present? How often am I just on autopilot as I do these tasks with my children? If I’m honest…it’s a lot.

Then in one week my seven year old lost two front teeth, stopped believing in the tooth fairy, and asked when she could start shaving her legs and my autopilot was reigned in as I felt the need to be more present and cherish these moments and address certain situations with hopefully decent answers–“Now it’s up to you to keep the magic alive for little ones like your sister” and “uh, let’s wait until middle school.”

My 18 month old started talking much more, finally quit crying at childcare, and mastered stairs without holding onto a hand in the same week and I had to ask myself: Am I fully living in this stage before she quickly passes on to the next? Or am I too busy wishing away her fits and tears when mommy leaves…knowing now that she’s stopped, I kind of want her to miss me again! I know the drill by now, you blink and they’ve grown!

I feel like “being present” is the trendy phrase for the decade in mommy circles (it ranks right after “tribe” and just before “fleek”). It’s actually the theme of a book on my nightstand right now that I’m anxiously awaiting to read. Maybe I should’ve written this afterward so I’d have more insight, but I digress. So I ask myself as a mother…what does it mean for me to be “present” for diaper changes? What does it mean to be present while I pour sippy cups of milk? And how in the WORLD can I be present for the 400th reading of Thomas the Train? This is what I’ve decided…

Being present means focusing on one thing at a time.

I know the ultimate skill of motherhood is multi-tasking. And yes I have helped build a Lego house while breastfeeding and texting BUT that doesn’t mean it’s the ideal situation. If I can show my children the attention they need during diaper changes, nursing sessions, bed time songs and prayers, bike riding lessons, then I’m making connections and developing a relationship. If I’m on my phone while I do every task, watching TV while pretending to play, or daydreaming of a time when I can escape my family for some “me time” then I can’t really connect with the people I love. Yes, moments will come that are necessary to multi-task….it’s inevitable…but that shouldn’t mean it’s the norm!

Being present means showing the patience and grace I want shown to me.

Some days, let’s face it, I wake up on the wrong side of the bed. But nothing makes it worse than when my kids do too. Let the whining and snapping begin! But if I’m constantly snapping at my kids and having a bad attitude, then I’m going to miss out on some pretty precious moments. Yes I’ve got that book memorized by now but it obviously brings her joy for me to read it to her, so why deny her that? I would want that love shown to me so I should exemplify that to my kids. If I can put myself in my kids shoes often times it helps snap my snappy attitude back into check…yes, tangles in hair do hurt and suck to brush out! Yes, it’s more fun to play outside than clean up for dinner! So I can validate and empathize before turning into the mean mommy and doling out the “Get over its!”

Being present means showing gratitude for each moment given.

Being thankful for whatever joys or trials are handed to me that day because it is an opportunity to grow, to teach my children and myself something, and to realize those mundane hairbrushings exist because I have daughters with beautiful hair that I love! Those poopy diapers mean I have a healthy thriving baby who will be potty trained before I know it. I can’t be wishing these moments away or looking at someone else’s grass and wishing mine greener. By showing gratitude, my attitude automatically changes and it will reflect in my life and into my children’s lives as well.

So maybe this buzz phrase of “being present” has some weight to it and just because it’s trendy, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t stick around for a long time! How do you stay present for the ordinary moments in your life?



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