Being Present

Sometimes I just feel so selfish.

I (secretly) get angry when potty training goes bad, when one of the boys pushes down the other one, when there are dishes left in the sink overnight, when the house gets messy 5 minutes after I clean it...

I mean, things really get my goat. Stupid things. Inconsequential things. My face gets hot, my head starts to hurt, and I feel the steam building like Frankenstein and the bolts want to burst free from my neck.

And sometimes they do. I completely lose it. And I yell. And maybe a time or two, I've caught msyelf throwing things. We have three cordless phone bases and yada yada yada...only two phones.

Then when all is quiet, I sit down and I think, what for? Why do I let these stupid little petty things bother me? Isn't it ridiculous? I've been thinking (again) a lot about my life as I so often do. How I should worry less and cherish more. And about how things could always be worse. But how I'm not even in a bad place, I'm actually in a wonderful place! The most wonderful place I have ever been in my life! And with each annoyance, each sarcastic remark, I'm letting it all pass by me and losing these moments forever.

I think about things like watching my little boy standing at the sliding glass door making hand prints all over it while watching the airplanes go by overhead and how it's something I want to paste in my memory forever. Because it only lasts one second. And even quicker if I am jerk enough to mutter something like, "Stop that, don't mess up the glass..." and ruin it. (Which I don't, by the way. And I'm thankful I didn't because he just smiled at me while his hands made the squeaky sounds on the glass and then ran away in that toddler sprint to go get his cup of crackers.)

And so what if there's screaming and the house sounds like complete lunacy around 5 o'clock every night because that's when the system seems to break down (like clockwork)? The kind of madness that when someone calls, they sound distracted hearing all of it in the background, forcing them to ask, "Did I catch you at a bad time?" while I respond, "Nope, these are just the sounds of my house! Go on! (Put HIM down!) Sorry. What were we talking about?"

And when it's one in the morning and one of them wakes up crying, out of nowhere, because normally they sleep through the night. I remember there was a time when I wished they both would sleep through the night, but now I know a time where I miss rocking them to sleep and cuddling with them and having a reason to watch terrible infomercials at 3 in the morning. When time seemed to stop and clocks meant nothing to anyone. Oddly, I miss that.

It's not annoying. It's my life. And it all goes so quickly that it makes tears form instantly in my eyes and makes my chest so heavy and tight to think about just how quickly it really all goes. And how selfish I am to want it all to go even quicker sometimes. How could I?? To not stop and relish each moment as a memory, each waking, wonderful moment as something to be gripped on to tightly and held close to me. How could I?!

And the dishes? If I spend the 20 minutes doing them before the kids go to bed because I hate leaving them, then I miss bath time. Where my husband sits there sudsing up the kids in his underwear (because they always splash him when he's wearing his clothes) and they sing songs that make no sense and build things and splash each other and try to drink the dirty bathwater. And who's the winner there? (Not me...)

My house isn't a complete sty. But it's not immaculate. I have three bins of laundry (at any given moment) that need folding right now. But if I sat there folding it this morning, I would have missed out on reading an entire library of Einstein books with my little boy who brought them all out to the living room to read. Or missed building a "crane" with them, which was really a giant wall of blocks. (And by the way the crane was a crane first, then a castle because of the giant block on top, then a birthday cake because of the way all the single blocks looked on top of the building.)

And then everything inevitably ends up scattered all over the house, the blocks and the books, everywhere. And at one point, I remember thinking, "No one needs this many toys." And almost being annoyed. But why?


My house shows signs of "family" in it. It's not a model home. It's not four stark white walls with glass tables and furniture with the plastic on it. My walls are painted pretty colors, but they're chipped where the cars have crashed into them a million times (and where I bumped it with the vaccuum...) My couch has crumbled Goldfish in the cushions and a few stains where the sippy cups that aren't supposed to leak, leaked. My floors are constantly covered in crumbs and macaroni despite constant sweeping and mopping, and the bathroom floor, the latest victim of my toddler's accident, needs cleaning. Again.

I'm not going to wish I had someone else's home, because that would be like wishing I had someone else's life. And I happen to like mine. Very much. I realize that life, my life, anyone's life, is just too short to waste on the small things. That getting angry about them really just makes me lose sight of the bigger things. And who can afford to do that? I like my life. Chipped paint, dirty floors, unfinished projects and all.

So if I could just bookmark this piece of very valuable piece of information to read over and over again when I forget as I seem to so often do... No, wait! I have a brilliant idea! I'll print it out, then put it in a little glass box on the wall with the words, "In Emergency, Break Glass!"

Then, it's like killing two birds with one stone! The next time I get mad, not only do I get to break something, I get a zen moment inside! Brilliant!

Then again, I'll have to clean that up. And glass really is quite dangerous for little feet. So nevermind. I'll just bookmark. It's safer for everyone. And in the meantime, I'll just try as much as I can to stop the inner madness for Pete's sake. And be present.
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  1. I love this post! It's so true, whether you're the one at home with the kids (balancing polar opposites: the order that is home management and the chaos that is toddlerhood) or are working outside the home (in which case you feel even more guilty about wasting the precious little time you have with them feeling angry or frustrated about something they're doing or not doing--case in point was the battle of wills Thing 2 and I had the other evening. It seems really stupid in retrospect. I hurled a Cat in the Hat book across the room during that one. Forgive me, Dr. Seuss.)

  2. I too love this post... I am one of those people that has to have their things in a certain place and with a new baby and a husband that creates messes after I clean them up... I can understand what you mean by letting the little things bother you... but at the same time why? I get that and have actually been making a conscious effort to not be the crabby mommy/wife that things in my house are not (perfect... just kiddding) the way that I want them. Life is so short and I need to start cherishing what I have!!! Thanks for reminding me to do the same thing!!!

  3. ya know the Octmom said that she was a good mom bc she would be "present" in her kid's lives. all 14 of them. good luck with that!
    i love this post and need to read it often.

  4. I love this post too. I want to be present too. And my home and family make me want to lock myself in the bathroom. I have yelled and throw things. Then turned aroung to ahh at my children looking so cute. I want to be calm but stuff needs to get done around here and I seem to be the only one to do it. How to you do both Be present and take care of what need to be done?

  5. Yes. I needed to read this today. thank you.

  6. this is a great post. i can totally relate. it's the little things. kids grow up too fast. :(


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