I love being a mom. I love my life. I am happy.
But boy is it hard to enjoy the moment sometimes. Life just sort of gets in the way. Days are long. Kids whine. I’m tired. There’s always too much to do. It’s cold. We’re late. We’ve got to get to bed!
Sometimes I’ll go through a whole day so focused on moving us through everything only to find at the end of it all that I haven’t really seen the beauty of what’s happening. This usually hits me when I see my kids in a picture I’ve posted on Instagram at the end of the day, or catch a glimpse of them sleeping when I come in to put away folded laundry. When things are still and quite, stripped of the chaos of the moment, I see the wonder of the life I’m living.
I love this quote by Anna Quindlen:
“But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make…. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”
Of course it’s impossible to grasp and enjoy every moment of a mothering day. But I’ve been working hard lately on trying to find a few seconds each day to stop to treasure the doing. To enjoy the moment. Because it’s happening, and really won’t be happening like this forever.
As a photographer there are two ways to really capture beauty. One is by zooming into it. When seeing your subject up close, all the intricate details pop out and something simple transforms into something miraculous. The second is by zooming out, way out and seeing your subject in the context of a bigger picture.
In my journey this year to figure out how to enjoy the present more I’ve tried to apply these two concepts to daily living. When I find myself moving through a day harried and frazzled and devoid of joy I’ve been trying to either zoom in and see more acutely the details of my life or to zoom out and get above the chaos and grind to see what I’m doing in a larger context. And when I exert the time and will power it takes to change my focal length I can see the joy in the moment.
Zooming in can be as simple as stopping for three seconds to see a beautiful but overlooked detail in your life. I stop to see the dark brown speck in Emmeline’s right eye as she tells me about the game she is playing upstairs with Peter, it is beautiful and in it I can see into her soul. Or I pause for a split second to listen to Hazel as she talks all motherly to Peter, there is love deeply planted in that sibling relationship. Or I gasp as I walk out of the store to a parking lot filled with spring air lighting up a pink sky, breathing in the joy of the world. Stopping to recognize the intricate loveliness in the mundane moments helps me feel the thrill of the present. Usually it only takes a second, but I can bask in the beauty of that moment for quite a lot longer.
Zooming out might take a bit more time, but it is powerful. We zoom out any time we take a step back from our lives to see it from a different angle. We zoom out when we go away for a day or take a walk for 20 minutes or just shut ourselves in the bathroom for 30 seconds and breathe. We zoom out when we walk outside of our house and look in. Suddenly we can’t hear the kids yelling, we can’t feel the crumbs under our feet, we can’t see the piles of laundry (or at least they don’t look so overwhelming). Through the windows we just see a house with children running around inside, soft light flooding out of the kitchen full of people working to build a family. We zoom out when we look at a picture someone snapped of us with a child at the beech on a stormy day, smiling, happy. When we see the big picture of our lives the angsty emotions of the moment are drown out by the beauty of the whole.
When we change our focal length by zooming in or out we turn down the volume of the chaos or discontent we might feel as move through life. We see the whole of our lives. And like a pointillism painting the dark bits combined with the light ones make a beautiful picture. A glistening whole. I’m stuck on that idea, that image. The dark and the light together, the whole of it, experienced in the moment by changing our lens, that’s what makes life glisten.
So. Speaking of zooming out, I get to come to a Power of Moms’ retreat in Utah in a few weeks! I’ve been to quite a few of these retreats and they always give me a hefty dose of perspective. They help me both zoom in and zoom out of my life. They help me take a microscope to my mothering and think hard about where I want to be and where I am. But also they get me get above my job as a mother to a higher ground where I can see the big picture and gain some clarity. I love being in a room full of mothers all carving out space to think about their job as moms. I always leave feeling inspired and ready to hit the ground running.
Not only do I get to attend the retreat but I also get to present about strategies for living in the moment. My mom and I gave a speech together about this in March here in Boston and I get to present a big part of it at the retreat in May.
If you’re in Utah the first Saturday in May please consider coming, there is still space, but I know it’s filling up pretty fast. Click here to find out more information. I know it’s hard to get away for a whole day, but it is definitely worth the investment. You’ll re-enter life the next day with a totally new perspective on yourself, on your kids, your husband. I always go away from those things feeling more powerful, armed with the resources, ideas, motivation and love that I need to really enjoy my job as a mom.
So please join us! Saturday, May 2nd, Park City Utah. Click here for the details.