Josie. My baby.
She’s not a baby anymore; she told me so. She’s a kid. She is now five, but she is my baby. Just like the book that triggers crying from even the bravest of men with the toilet on the cover…
Why a toilet? That always confused me. From such an emotionally influential book, why put a toilet on the cover? I don’t get it.
Anyway, “as long as I live, my baby you’ll be” is the mantra repeated by a loving mother to her son as he grows from a boy to a man in this children’s picture book. (I won’t spoil the end. No, that is not a pun. The toilet literally has nothing to do with the book. There is no need for a toilet on the cover. Think of how many readers were off-put by that cover? Or how many readers were misled – thinking it was a potty training book or something…but I digress.)
I love all my kids equally. But I love my Jo. I smash my face into her soft belly to give her kisses. I pick her up into my arms even though her feet now dangle to my knees. I tell her I’m going to tie books to her head so she can never grow tall, and if we just sleep all day on her birthday she won’t ever get older.
It isn’t because I love her more, it is because she is a growing, breathing, living symbol that all things are temporary. This moment is now…gone. And into the future we are thrown.
I try to embrace the present moment. I will look at her at the top of the pool wall, sporting her Wonder Woman swimming suit with the floatation device safely secured tightly around her cute belly while she is plugging her nose and shouting, “Jackpot Baby” as she leaps into the water trying to take it in. I try to record that exact moment into my mind forever. I know this time will not last. Each day she learns and grows and changes and I will never get back those moments that have past…and have passed so quickly.
She is a single representation that my childhood is gone, that my honeymoon period with my husband has disappeared, that my other two children continue to grow, and that my time is only getting shorter.
Recently I heard someone say that we are always older than we think we are. Often I find myself thinking I am “young”. (I know, those of you who are saying, “you ARE young”…are ALSO young in this analogy. Please replace my age with yours for this exercise. ) For example, although we are now both in our 40’s, each time if visit with my older brother, I end up in a headlock. Not kidding. We behave as if we are 8 and 14 respectively. Each time I see a softball, I feel 18 years old as if I have the agility to gun a throw from the plate to second base from a squat the same way I always did. When my husband asks me to help him carry something heavy, I think, sure, I can do that! (I am literally laughing out loud right now because, no, I can no longer carry heavy things. We now knock on our neighbor’s doors…ahem, our younger neighbor’s doors, to help.)
But really, I am not 8. I am not 18 or 22. Although that girl is part of me, I am 40 and it is today, and this moment is now…gone.
Practicing living in the present moment is essential. This is absolutely a practice I continue to embrace regularly. The concept of temporary helps me to relish the present moments that are pleasant and to dilute the experiences that are not. Times I find myself overwhelmed and not wanting to carry on, I remind myself that this time is temporary. I will not always feel this way. I will not always be able bodied to work. I will not always be privileged to work with children, etc. It helps to keep a balanced perspective on living in the present moment yet not to be swept away when the present moment is difficult.
But an even grander practice, is to mediate. Meditating will actually create space in the brain, which may currently be occupied with stressors, so that we can in fact live in the present moment.
Let me give you an example from this week.
It was a week for which I felt work requirements were extraordinarily high. I did not get home in time to go to my workout on any day of the week. I ate poorly and slept poorly.
Mid-week, Josie came into our room in the middle of the night complaining about her ear. She was whining and crying. Waking from deep sleep is problematic for many reasons, but waking and then attempting to care for a sick child is a great challenge. I attempted to calm her. I walked downstairs and made a water with ice and got some Tylenol which she of course refused to take. I encouraged her to smell the medicine, which literally smelled like candy (which again transported me back to my childhood dinner table where my dad continually attempted to convince us kids that any dinner served, including cod, tasted like candy). Although she took a good whiff, she still refused the medicine. I let it go, I got her snuggled in our bed, perched her head on a pillow, and then, we both fell back to sleep.
It was two days later that my husband thanked me for caring for her with such gentle kindness in the middle of the night that I had any reason to even think about it. This was another concrete example of how meditation is chaning my brain…for the better.
Think about my daughter. How did she feel about her mom in the night? Maybe she felt cared for? Heard? Loved? In a time prior to my meditation practices, I may have rolled my eyes. I may have yelled, “take the medicine.” I know I would not have been as calm as I was to give her the care and attention she needed in that present moment. In turn, think about how I felt in that moment; calm, loving, giving, and when I look back I have no regrets for behaving poorly. Meditation can help open our minds to living, and living well, in any moment.
Josie is temporary. I am temporary. This moment is temporary. I would rather get the most bang for my buck in these moments striving to pull all the love and happiness from each second…each moment than accepting the contrary. I want to leave anger and stress out of the equation as well as out of the memory.
Get your Wonder Woman suit on people. Plug your nose and shout, “Jackpot Baby.” Give someone extra kisses and attention today. Enjoy today. Find the beauty in one moment. And if you are struggling, your experience is temporary too. Carry on moving forward and you will find better days. Better days are a guarantee. It is one of the only truths of this world, that this moment is now…gone.
Josie’s asking for pancakes. So…