I’ve been trying to be present with my kids lately. That involves putting down my phone/laptop, yes, and that part’s not too difficult, but the being present part kind of is. I mean… tuning into what they’re saying. Not letting my own laziness or boredom or fatigue get in the way of our conversations. This is proving to be more difficult than I imagined, honestly. I’m not letting myself get bent out of shape about it – as I tune in, I realize how often I’ve been tuning out without noticing – but have been telling myself that this is a challenge as a mother (person?) that I battle, and the important part is that I am making a conscious effort to be “present”.
I caught a glance of myself in the mirror lately and it was my mother’s body looking back that I saw. Without a doubt, I am no longer “young” or a “youth” or even really, a young mother. I am 30 – a woman in every definition possible. From my determination to pay off our credit card to my battle against the width of my hips, there is nothing childlike about me anymore. Yet, I am totally and completely ok with that.
Even as short as two years ago, when I first started back to school on a campus full of 19 year-olds, I was intimidated by them, glaringly aware of my age, my wedding ring, my children, the lack of anything in common with my classmates. Now, one week out from the start of classes, I haven’t thought about who will be my classmates, but have focused more on the professors. I just… don’t care as much. Maybe they smirk when they talk about me, but more realistically, they don’t talk about me at all. Maybe they roll their eyes when I make feminist-slanted comments in class, but then, what’s that matter to me anyway? I am ok with myself, and even compared to a year ago, that’s some pretty big progress.
I think that being present in the moments and hours and days with my children, even when my patience and attention span wanes, even when I would love to sit them on the couch for the last two hours before Steve gets home and let them zone out to Sesame Street, even when I’m just plain bored, practicing on this focus, on this “presence” has helped me to expand my view on life.
It seems funny; that focusing on one small event would expand the horizon in the background, and yet, it has made everything seem more clear. I’ve realized that there is no finite time limit on accomplishments, I have no shelf life. In fact, if anything, I am getting better with age. More confident yes (although that has come with a concerted effort instead of naturally), but also more aware of the world around me. That dream of politics I put up on the shelf when I was 23? Maybe it will come back down oneday. Maybe not, but the fact is, just because it’s on a shelf somewhere in the recesses of my mind doesn’t mean it can’t ever be reached again.
The possibilities are endless, you see. They really are. Imagine your biggest, wildest dream. Imagine your Wonderland where everything you’ve ever worked for and everything you’ve ever wanted is at your fingertips. Is it possible? Can you do it?
I have a list of dreams, some physical, some not. And now, at 30, when I am the most tied down I’ve ever been (marriage, kids, mortgage, debt, tuition, classes) has become the time in my life when I’ve begun to feel the most free.