It’s 100 degrees and here I sit, next to the city landfill, watching the turkey buzzards circle in the blinding blue sky. The things we do for our children. Seven hours outside (with a short break for lunch at a TGI Fridays) spent watching my daughter’s team lose multiple soccer games – some in spectacular fashion. The sun eventually will set on cherry-red faces and gatorade stained lips and we’ll begin the long drive home.
I will miss these days when they’re gone.
Right now, though, it’s very difficult to stay present as I sweat and struggle to hold in my helpful hints that I’m often tempted to bellow from the sideline. Number 71 doesn’t like feedback from the sidelines during a game (she doesn’t much care for it after the game either). I often can’t wait to get back to my air conditioned car and then, after that, to my house where all of the things that need to get done to get us through the week await.
Sometimes it’s just the chocolate covered pretzels from Buc-ees and the Diet Cokes that get me through the day (I’ve lived in Texas for eight years and one of the very best things about the state is Buc-ees. I grew up in Minnesota and once thought Super America could not be beat. How foolish I was).
I really will miss these days when they’re gone.
During the week it’s no easier, as I race between piano, soccer, dance and school pick ups. Not to mention working part-time as a therapist. I know, I know. They could do less, but the only thing they’d give up would be piano and I love that they’re learning to play like I did so, despite the drive to the piano lesson being THE WORST, I persist.
It’s not just the outdoor sports in August in Texas. It’s the dance team – which my eldest tried out for and made. That’s eight hours in a darkened auditorium interspersed with 2 minutes on stage every other hour and about 15 minutes trying to apply false eyelashes to an 11 year old. There’s also the hair doing – curlers and buns. The things I’ve learned to do as a mother. I’ve never once worn false eyelashes, but I can put them on in seconds at this point.
I will miss this when it’s over.
Why do I keep repeating that? Because I need to remember it. It’s so hard to remember it when we’re in it. I’m working more and more to give things my whole attention while I’m doing them. The rest of the details will come, or they won’t. But the moments with my kids while they’re kids are limited. They will grow up.
I know that I’m lucky that I can be at as many of their things as I can, that I can be at home and not at work in the afternoon and on the weekends. I have the privilege of being able to not worry about what we’ll eat for dinner tonight because worse comes to worst, we can eat out. Even with these privileges, it is hard for me to stay focused on the things that I’m doing with them when I’m doing them.
So often we multi-task. Whether or not we have kids. We eat lunch at the desk while we answer emails and listen to the news. We talk to the garage fixing the car on the phone, while we grocery shop online, in the waiting room for the kid’s dentist appointment (just me?). We try to do everything at once and end up being aware of none of it and resentful of all of it.
I teach my DBT skills group to do things one-mindfully as a part of mindfulness. To give things your whole attention while you’re doing it. Usually we teach it in reference to pleasurable activities, small moments of joy in our daily lives. Small moments of self care. To practice one-mindfulness is to learn to take hold of your attention and to direct your attention to the things you can control or affect in the present moment. Practice allows us to be aware of what’s happening in our lives.
It also decreases anxiety. It distracts us from thoughts of the future the what ifs and the unknowns that fill us with fear. It also helps us to let go of the things we can’t control and slows the thought processes that can race and jump when anxious.
One-mindfulness boils down very simply to the idea that when you’re eating, eat; when you’re walking, walk; and when you’re watching soccer, watch soccer.