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Finding The Good Bones Of Being Present

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

On Sunday, Lucia, our oldest, was in a bad mood. Everything set her off, especially her brothers (most days I can’t blame her; they’re 4 and 2). She took an hour to play on her own in the basement and I really hoped that would be the perfect reset.

But it wasn’t.

She came back upstairs and was set off right away by something else one of the boys did. Some days, I would tell her to figure out how to be kind, or on a really rough day for me I might have gotten stern (I’m not typically a yeller, just by personality), but this day I had a vision of how this moment could lead to more connection and maybe, hopefully, equipping her with an important coping skill.

Trying To Be Present (Together)

I, just like Lucia, have bad days. In fact, I’ve had whole seasons where I’m in a funk and can’t seem to get out of it. At the end of every Midwest winter, I emerge from a stupor I didn’t entirely realize I was in. So I know how horrible it is to feel stuck and like you can’t come out of a bad mood.

So we snuggled and we talked. I told her about how I get in bad moods and sometimes need help getting out of it from Eli or another friend. I asked if she thought she was in a bad mood and if she wanted help to get out of it. She did, and I suggested we play a record she enjoys. She immediately perked up and ran to pick Encanto.

It might not have gone this way. Sometimes when I get a nudge out of a bad mood, I still stay (in fact, this happened on Monday to me), and she could have too. But I was so proud of her and proud of me too. She took a step by trying something new to her without knowing how it would go. So did I.

Neither of us knew if this would work, but we gave it a try together.

When I can slow down and really be present in the moment, so much of life is good. I’m not great at being present. I worry. I overthink. I get on my phone too much. But when I am present, that’s where I find the good bones. It’s what I’m trying to lean into, even though I’m not perfect at it.

Bird’s Eye View vs. In the Trenches

Our bedroom window overlooks our street, and on sunny spring days I watched Eli riding his bike back from the bus stop with our kids in tow, riding their scooters like a modern-day Von Trapp family (Oh, how I hope you get this reference!). Every time I saw this, I couldn’t help but think “Wow I really love them” and sometimes 30 seconds later they come inside and it’s loud and I’m overstimulated and I think they can just turn around on their scooters and go somewhere else.

It’s easier to recognize the beauty in my life when it’s quiet and I am 20 feet up, looking from a bird’s eye view, or maybe from pictures after everyone is asleep. But I want to see beauty while I’m in the trenches too.

C.S. Lewis writes in The Weight of Glory that “we do not want merely to see beauty” but want instead “to be united with the beauty we see, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves, to bathe in it, to become a part of it.” I think Lewis is talking about our desire for a Christian heaven here, but it sounds like heaven will be–at least in part–about us becoming one with beauty. Wouldn’t that come from being present entirely to the beauty?

We need to become a part of beauty so even when it’s pure chaos and all the children are yelling at each other and someone has a fever again and someone else peed their pants, we can feel settled.

Both beauty and chaos are our real lives. Both need to be acknowledged.

But so often, all that gets talked about in parenthood are those chaotic moments. The moments where everyone is losing their shit, or we are just hanging on by a thread. The days that you just don’t know if you can make it to bedtime. I’m sure we’ll remember those, but we want to work together to make and notice a life we love and treasure, to say that we united ourselves with the beauty. That it became a part of who we are.

The Good Bones of Being Present

I find the good bones of life when I am present, and so right now, that’s what I’m trying to lean into. I’m nowhere close to perfect at it, but my imperfect efforts are worth it for the moments of connection and “I love our life” beauty-absorbing hugs with Eli.

Tonight I walked outside with Lucia to water our garden (more on this soon!). I left my phone inside and showed her how much water the plants need and where. There were moments of correction and teaching too, but I was completely with her. She told me that we should be farmers and share our strawberry crops with our neighbors. I snipped some flowers to bring inside.

Those imperfect 15 minutes of presence were dripping with beauty glimmers just hoping we’d notice and absorb them.

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I totally relate. I find myself scrolling through my photo feed of their little faces after a long day of being overwhelmed & testy with them. This is a good reminder to suck in every minute of those sweet moments as they are happening, even when the departures of the hugs leave a snot trail behind.



Absolutely enjoyed reading!!

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