A few weeks ago at my daughter’s dance recital, my husband was talking to my younger cousin, who is a new mom with two young babies. This same cousin was the flower girl at our wedding. Over the years, she’s watched our family evolve and it’s hard, even for her, to believe that’s our baby dancing on the stage. When did she become so mature, so grown?
My husband said to my cousin, “When they’re young, you’re living every minute. You’re really in it. But when they get older, that’s when things start to speed up.”
I’d never heard it explained like that, and it felt exactly right. It also felt like a better thing to say to a young parent than, “Enjoy this time. They grow up so fast.”
We don’t have much control over how the passing of time feels—it feels the way it feels. All we can do is try to reassure each other—this is how it is, this is normal. We’re in the trenches, and then there’s light, and then we look around and we say, “How did it happen so fast?”
Lately I’ve been attempting to reconcile this by reminding myself to be present. Being present is a recurring theme in my writing, I know. I suppose that’s because there are two parts of me, living in two realms at once: There’s the one who goes about her day, and the one who exists outside of herself, hovering above, looking at the big picture and the small details, searching for meaning.
I’ve discovered there’s a difference between being present and living in the moment.
Being in the moment is the decision to take my kids to the waterpark with the plan to sit in my chair and write this newsletter, but when they come up and ask me to go down the waterslide with them, I close my notebook and get up. I help wrangle the gigantic five-seater raft up three flights of stairs, squeeze myself in when we get to the top, and scream the whole way down because I’m the one stuck going down backwards.
Being present is the practice of staying engaged through the entire process: putting on sunscreen, loading the car, making several stops to pick up the friends, texting the moms to assure them all is well. It’s keeping two hands on the steering wheel and eyes on the road, even as they turn up the music too loud. It’s bobbing my head—just enough, but not too much—to show the kids that I’m still cool, and also, that I think they are too.
Being present is watching them from afar and snapping a quick photo, and then relaxing in the chair because they’re now finally old enough to run around the park without helicopter supervision. It’s also holding down the camp so they know right where I am when they come back to get money for ice cream.
Being present is deciding to go to the snack bar by myself and get a hot dog and a Diet Coke because that feels like what I want. It’s finally getting home and finding a quiet place in the house and asking my children to please stop shouting my name because I need a minute to myself.
In the moment life temporarily becomes 3-D. But there’s also this awareness that the moment is fleeting. One moment fades into the next. There’s so much, too much, holding on and letting go.
Being present allows more space and grace to let the moments pass on by, as they do. Being present makes room for memory and nostalgia, even as I’m living my life right now. When I’m being present, I understand that life is full of complexity and nuance. It reminds me that I’m not the only one living the story.
It’s getting real. My publisher and I are working on the final rounds of editing, cover design, and the early stages of marketing and promotion. Stay tuned in the coming weeks and months as we prepare for the launch of my memoir, “Girl in the Spotlight”, which is scheduled to be released in early October.
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