When I have a moment to myself, usually at the end of the day, I look at the photos I have on my phone. Like every parent on this fragile earth of ours I have millions of photos of my baby. So I start to scroll and find myself already smiling.
At the beginning of the reel, the photos are just of milestones and little snippets of time..a visual diary of sorts; the arrival home from hospital, his first bath, the first time he rolled.
I even have videos of him just sleeping.
As parents, we capture all that sweetness. Little moments caught in time that would otherwise pass by without further thought. Which is perhaps why we tend to forget how hard it is being a parent and have more offspring.
The photo reel then changes and evolves, much like my little one. They start to feature more of the interactions between me or my husband and our child.
Now, rather than just being mere observers with my voice describing what’s happening on screen we’re recording the action as participants to the story.
The photos captured are now of him looking slightly off to the right or left, his gaze is beyond the camera depending on where I am. His mouth or face frozen in time in response to something I’ve said or done.
These moments are now more likely of our conversation about his day, his time at the beach, his first experience of ice-cream or that time we encouraged him to touch the reptiles at a petting zoo.
Turtles and snakes and lizards. Oh my!
While the phone and camera has become incredibly important in helping me remember these moments, I also need to remember to be in the moment.
“When mindfulness embraces those we love they will bloom like flowers”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Have you noticed this?
I notice that when I give my son my absolute attention, when I involve myself completely in our play he remains confident and content. If I start our days off like this, then the rest of the day he doesn’t become clingy or whines and when it’s time to prepare lunch or clean up he is happy to continue playing on his own.
I don’t mean to say he needs my undivided attention all the time but rather at concentrated bursts at regular intervals, otherwise it would be exhausting.
There have even been days where I’ve been able to have an adult conversation with a friend for over an hour on the phone or read through a few chapters of a book while he continues to play. Small wins.
The opposite is also true.
That is, when I’m half present; I’m there with him in body but my mind is thinking of other things, errands, reminders, non-essentials that still occupy my thoughts then I find my little guy becomes a little more demanding.
He clings to my leg or he climbs over me to keep me low and accessible and I have to put aside what I’m doing.
I guess old or young, it doesn’t make a difference, everyone wants and deserves proper attention.
You know the kind.
When you’re looking into each other’s eyes, mirroring each other’s body language, acknowledging what’s being said with a nod or a smile or a word.
I’ve come to appreciate the need to not just be in the moment but embrace the moments. Really commit to them.
And being mindful does that.
Just looking back through the photos is a bittersweet reminder of how quickly they grow up. The collage of the memories is great but it doesn’t beat the warmness of a hug, the radiance of their smile or the touch of their tiny hands wrapped around our fingers.
Being in the moment we find ourselves content to stay there.