July 31, 2023

How Children Can Teach us to Remain Present.

I could feel myself holding my breath.

My jaw tensed as my entire body posture followed, tightening up.

It was one of those days when it felt like the floodgates had opened. Everything and everyone demanded my immediate attention at the same time.

I was standing in the entryway to my house talking to the technician our internet provider sent to diagnose our ongoing Wi-Fi issues. The tech explained the underground wire running to the house needed to be replaced to solve the issue.

I’m multitasking, a term that I used to think meant that I deserved a pat on the back for juggling more than one thing at a time. Over time, I’ve come to see that multitasking really is defined by no one and no single task getting my full attention.

I’m distracted by texts from my husband who has a lot of questions about what replacing said wire entails. I’m trying to both listen to the answers the tech is giving me and text my husband back at the same time.

I think I may have missed something.

I start to apologize to the tech. In the middle of my apology, my son comes over. “Mom when can we go outside to play soccer?” He asks.

As the tech is walking out the front door, I spin around, “Okay! Let’s head outside!” I call to my son who made his way to the next room reading his National Geographic Kids magazine.

I feel my hand start to vibrate. I completely forgot I was still holding my cell phone. Seeing it’s my doctor’s office, I answer the phone.

I hadn’t quite finished shifting sets in my brain from the end of my last conversation to this new one. I’m unfocused.

“So does that date and time work for you?” she asks as I’m zapped back to reality.

I hang up the phone and turn to see my 10-year-old waiting patiently, sneakers on, soccer ball in hand.

Outside, the sun is shining for the first time in weeks. I take a deep breath realizing I’m still not breathing properly. Holding onto my breath is only creating more stress in my body.

I exhale.

“You’re right…you’re so right,” I say out loud more to convince myself it’s okay to put my to-do list aside, “Let’s go outside and enjoy this weather.”

A 10-year old’s concept of time is entirely different than mine as an adult.

Children have this beautiful ability to help us pay attention to what is right in front of us. They’re not distracted by an imaginary to-do list. You know, the one we all keep and somehow convince ourselves crossing tasks off leads to a full life? It’s such bullsh*t.

As we’re kicking the soccer ball back and forth with the sun beating down on us, I don’t have to remind myself to breathe. I pass the ball to my son, but before he kicks it back, he stops.

“A grasshopper!” He exclaims crouching down to pick it up.

Some people would categorize stopping a game of soccer to meet a new grasshopper as being distracted, but I feel it’s the exact opposite. My son was completely in the moment.

I crouch down to introduce myself to our new grasshopper friend. As I watch my son place the grasshopper on top of the soccer ball, the grasshopper seems to formally introduce himself by extending an antenna. I laugh.

My laughter is short-lived as I find my thoughts wandering to the future.

“Will he soon be too old to care about a grasshopper, or even notice one is there? Will he lose sight of what’s right in front of him—like I do sometimes?’

I realize these thoughts are a trap. It’s so easy to go down the rabbit hole of what-ifs and get drawn away from the moments we should be recording in our minds to play back later. I make a choice to stay present.

“Should we give him a name?” I ask my son raising an eyebrow.

Our mission in this life isn’t to have a completed to-do list, work 80 hours a week, or have the tidiest of houses.

We’re meant to contribute, to build a legacy, to leave at least our small corner of the world a better space than it was when we first entered this life for our children, for the next generation.

The first step to assuring we’re able to build this legacy is to remain in the here and now. Take a conscious pause. Elect to stay in the moment.

And when the weather is sunny and warm make time to kick around a soccer ball, and if you happen to see one, stop to meet a grasshopper.


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