Do you ever miss things because of the distractions of life? Have you found yourself washing the dishes rather than watching the moonrise, zoning out to the TV rather than being fully in the presence of your roommate or spouse, texting rather than discovering new bugs with a child?
I miss things that are important because I’m on to the next task almost immediately.
I miss things because my mind is somewhere else.
I miss things that I’d like to enjoy.
It’s a funny word, enjoy. We so often use it in its first Oxford Dictionary meaning, “take delight or pleasure in,” but there’s a secondary meaning, too. It’s simple: “possess and benefit from,” as in “hotel guests enjoy 24/7 pool access and Egyptian cotton towels.”
There are so many things that I “possess and benefit from” that I don’t enjoy in the first sense of the word; I take them for granted, I ignore them, I forget that I even have them.
I’m having a baby.
The baby’s only inside for a tiny bit longer, and we’re thinking, at 43, that this will be the last time I get to do this.
As a woman of advanced maternal age (medicine calls you this if you’re over 35), I get to have lots more tests than those who are younger. I get an ultrasound and a nonstress test (fetal heartbeat and monitoring any contractions) every week during my last month.
And when I get on the monitor, knowing I’ll be there for thirty minutes or more, I automatically take out my phone and start working or reading.
But then I stop.
I want to be here for this. I want to feel the movements, listen to the heartbeat on the monitor, keep an eye on whether there are any contractions. With a toddler running around at home, quiet, alone time is rare, and I tend to fill it up with the computer, the phone, housework, etc.
But filling up my time makes me miss the present.
It’s a funny word, present. It has so many meanings—but I’ll focus on just three.
The present is the gift.
The present is now.
And we can be present in the gift of the now.
Yet so often, I’m not.
But I want to be here for this. I want to be present for the last days and hours of baby-inside-mom.
I want to be present for the last outings, book readings, meals, of just-mom-and-son or just-the-three-of-us.
So I slow down.
I take a deep breath.
The work is still there, calling me, almost mocking, constantly.
But I want to be here for this. This is what I want. There are no second chances at this.
Every choice is a renunciation so I renounce what draws me away from this experience, this life-giving, this presence.
I put my phone down and listen to the monitor. I close my eyes and feel the movements. I put the computer away and read my son a book, we walk around the lake as a family electronic-less.
There’s a cost to choosing to be present, but it’s a cost I want to pay.
Because I want to be here for this.
Check out my book, The Book of Womanhood