“Is it 5 o’clock yet?”
“I sure wish it was Friday.”
These are common statements we hear and make throughout the work week. I’ve made them even as recently as yesterday. Even when we love our jobs, we sometimes wish we were somewhere else. I am guilty of watching the clock, impatiently counting the minutes until I can go see my children. It seems perfectly innocent. But I noticed that I spend a lot of time minding the clock, but not a lot of time being mindful about it.
We all know that we should cherish every moment with our children. We’re all familiar with the phrase enjoy them while they are young.
As a mother of two youngsters, I understand and lament how fast they grow. I blink and I miss something important – a first loose tooth, a first crush, a first best friend. I’ve experienced those moments and they are all far too fleeting. I wish I could go back and relive some of them. My time with them is limited and I try to remember, even in the bad times, that every minute I get with them is precious. However, when I think of living in the moment, I think of sunny days spent at the park watching my kids play. I don’t think about cherishing the hours I spend at my desk looking over files or the minutes wasted in traffic.
Dealing with anxiety means that worrying about the future is an everyday struggle. The what-ifs loom menacingly in my thoughts, always threatening to take the day. It’s human nature to be concerned about what’s going to happen tomorrow and the next day. Many of us live with this reality unquestioningly. It doesn’t help that we are constantly bombarded by messages telling us to prepare for the end of our lives today. Those messages are not bad, but take it from someone who made a career out of worrying about tomorrow, it can silently steal your joy. This is partly because we don’t fully grasp what living in the moment means. We think we do, but we really do it lip service most of the time.
In my therapy sessions to learn to cope with my anxiety, I learned that living in the moment means much more than just cherishing the moments with your loved ones. Living for the moment means cherishing every moment, not just the ones in which we’re happy, healthy, and feeling loved. Living for the moment means you cherish the bad times too. You cherish those loooong Friday afternoons when work is slow but you can’t leave. Instead of thinking about what you are going to do after you get off, cherish the fact that you’re able to work. Or that you’re alive. Or that the sun is shining, or it’s raining, or whatever the moment calls for. It’s an exercise in mindful, purposeful living. It means being thankful for every minute of the day and not wishing them away thinking about later. It’s about minding your time, every minute of the day.
It’s very easy for us working mothers to wish away eight hours of every day wanting to be with our kids. I suspect it’s also very easy for stay-at-home moms to wish away chunks of their time when their kids are being cranky. When I am at home with the kids, I often wish away the hours until my husband is home. Those days I miss something special, like the kids discovering a baby lizard or learning a new word.
I’m not claiming to be a champ at this. In fact, I’m not even very good. It’s something I’m working on right now. I’ll let you know when I “arrive.” In the meantime, here’s to living life for the moment.