I hate the expression ‘be present’. It’s right up there for me with ‘she’s so real’ and ‘I’ve got your back’. It sounds a bit tosser-ish. Don’t you think? What does it even mean?
That being said, it is something I want to be better at. Being present or rather, being ‘in the moment’ is something that I can (at times) find difficult to do since becoming a parent.
I want so desperately to be present for my kids but the very nature of being a parent sometimes makes that difficult. The sheer volume of questions a small child asks before 9am each day has a tendency to fry your brain and make any subsequent engagement a bit fuzzy.
It’s not a fair fight.
Take this morning for example, I woke to the sounds of ‘Mummy, I need a poo’, at 6am. From the toilet Bear proceeded to quiz me about what his pre-school teacher was doing?
I don’t know, it’s bloody 6am. My eyes aren’t even properly open. How could I possibly know what your teacher is doing at this moment in time?
I didn’t say that, obviously.
Don’t get me wrong, I love talking with my kids. They’re funny, engaging and so clever. I have no idea where they get their brains from because it certainly isn’t me.
They can also be really boring, in the sense that they ask the same questions over and over and over. Questions that quite often don’t even make sense.
“Mummy, what’s morning for?”
Bear will get me to play ‘Reception class’ with him, which basically involves him being a teacher who incessantly blows their whistle and orders the children (me) in and out of the classroom. That’s it. That’s the entirety of the game.
*whistle* “Okay Reception, time to go outside”. So I go outside.
*whistle* “Okay Reception, time to go inside”. So I go inside.
Round and round we go.
It’s extremely difficult to stay invested in a game that is so boring. I know that sounds mean but there’s no other way to describe it.
I can feel myself switching off to the waffle and initiating ‘auto-pilot Mummy’, where I rotate a stock of automated responses.
I know when I’m going into robot mode and I hate it, it feels so incredibly mean. But it’s necessary sometimes to be able to get stuff done, like hoovering, having a quiet cup of tea or saving a bit of brain power.
Children are a bit like the baby bird in Peck Peck Peck (by Lucy Cousins). They Peck and they Peck and they Peck and they Peck until there’s nothing left to peck and then they fall asleep for the day.
Then it’s quiet.
Then I miss them. So I spend far too long looking over my photos from the day, longing to play that boring reception game and wishing I’d been more present and appreciated all their little quirks and eccentricities. Even the less interesting stuff, because it all makes up the incredible little people that they are and will become.
Vowing to do better, I always look forward to tomorrow.