Greetings from the trenches. The boys are asleep early tonight. They are still recovering from a shared cold, which kept them in bed all last weekend... while trying to keep up with homework assignments and school projects.
One son stuck it out to the end, completing four pages of homework and studying for a French test before sliding between the sheets; the other fell unconscious with his face pressed to the computer keyboard.
Tomorrow is another day. Next week is another week. Sooner or later, my children will get the education they need to function in the adult world. In the meantime, they need sleep.
And some extra hugs.
It’s been a draining week, but it has also been one filled with blessings and graceful moments. As I mentioned in my last post, there is real beauty in being present and doing what needs to be done to care for your children – even (especially) when “what needs to be done” is not particularly pretty.
Runny noses and vomit come to mind.
I perhaps said it more eloquently, when I posted back in June:
“Conscious Parenting is about slowing down and living in the moment; it is about finding the grace in every experience; it is about feeling gratitude for all the mysterious gifts that make up a lifetime.”
And as I added back then:
“Preferably, some of these moments will occur when your children are present.”
As it turns out, I think I have discovered the easiest possible way to be present with your children... how to be with them in the moment. I wrote about it for the first time almost a year ago, but it bears repeating. It is deceptively simple, so I am going to put it in capital letters, to make it appear more impressive:
LOOK AT THEM.
That’s right. Turn your entire body in the general direction of your child; focus your eyes precisely upon them and LOOK AT THEM.
Keep looking. Notice the details. Is their hair growing longer than you realized? Do you recognize the expression in their eyes? Are they getting annoyed by your intense scrutiny?
That’s okay. Keep looking. Aren’t they just plain gorgeous? Don’t you love them more than you can stand? Are you smiling yet?
Try talking to them. Have a conversation. It’s alright... they’re your kids. You’re allowed.
Make a habit of always looking directly at your child when you speak to them. This is a huge gift, to your child and yourself. Step away from the television, the computer and the laundry room and look your child in the eye. You might be surprised – and blessed – by what you see.
Now it’s time for one of my favorite activities: I am going upstairs to stare at my children while they sleep. When they are unconscious, my rampaging hellions turn back into my babies... young, beautiful and innocent.
I just need one peek.
For more tips on being present with your children, see "A Presence Practice for Multi-tasking Overachievers."
For more on conscious parenting, may I suggest “10 Ways to Be a Conscious Parent.”
Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting, by Myla Kabat-zinn and Jon Kabat-zinn is a lovely meditation on the work of parenting. Put it on your bedside table and read a page each night. Sweet dreams!