I remember the day that really changed my way of thinking. It was a few years ago and I was faced with the conundrum of limited space for photos on my photo gallery wall. I wanted to put up some new pictures of my newborn and my oldest, but it meant replacing some of the baby pictures of my then three-year-old.
At that moment I thought, I could just continue to add frames and cover all my main living spaces in pictures or I could take some of the older pictures down. Let’s be real though, my house is pretty small and I would cover up every inch of wall space in a short matter of time if I decided to continue to add frames to my walls.
When I decided that the best possible option would be to probably take a few of the baby photos of my then three-year-old down, I cried a little bit. How could I put some of these photos away? It means that my first baby is no longer a baby, no longer a toddler. I started to think back on the last couple of years… there were things that I had wished that I had known better as a first time mom, things that I wish could have done differently. Of course, I loved my son and appreciated him so much, but there were days that I thought back to when I was overwhelmed and wished for him to be a little older and more independent. I wish that I could have enjoyed him more each minute.
I was upset with myself for not always enjoying every single minute as he got older, farther away from being a baby, and more independent. I left the photos as is on the wall for two days while I thought this through.
I realized over the next couple of days, as I cried and focused on the days that have past when my oldest was a baby, was 1 year old, was 2 years old, was 3 years old… I am missing the now.
If I allow myself to cry about days gone by when my kids were younger, I will continue to be in an unending cycle. There will come a day when the four-year old who seemed so old, which I was looking at his one-year-old pictures will be seven, and I will be looking back at photos when he was four, wondering what happened to those days. From that point forward, I have learned to enjoy today, enjoy my kids’ ages now, enjoy life now, and not look back and wish that I could turn back time. And not look forward too much and wish that my boys were older.
Here are a few tips on how I try my best to enjoy the present:
- I enjoy my kids for who they are and what age they are today. I don’t wish for the future or dwell in the past.
- I prioritize what is important to my kids today. For example, my son asked to have a birthday party for his stuffed animal Chase. He does not ask for things like that a lot. I went out and bought him a small $5 cake at the grocery store and it meant the world to him. A year later, he still talks about it.
- I try my best to preserve the memories from the present. I have a school memory binder, I write down cute things that my kids say, and I take pictures whenever possible.
- I remind my kids to enjoy the present and not just wish for things in the future.
- I fully immerse myself in the now. If I find myself sitting on my couch, missing out on family time for no good reason, I get up and do something.
- I remind myself that each day is a gift. I am both lucky to be alive and lucky to be the mother of my children. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.
- I also try my best to appreciate my husband each day, to remind him that I appreciate him, to do nice things for him when I think of it. I remind myself of why I married him each day and how lucky I am that he chose to go on this crazy ride called parenting, with me.
Now that I have changed my way of thinking, I find myself happier on a more frequent basis. I also find that I spend less time worrying and more time just being.