I’ve realized recently that I’ve been spinning my wheels so fast and so hard that I’ve forgotten to savor the little moments — those every day, ho-hum, ordinary moments that are really the only moments that matter. It’s as if I blinked and my baby turned into a walking, talking 3-year-old. My firstborn is suddenly a sassy, opinionated, outspoken 6-year-old! I know what a cliche it is to be talking about how fast time goes…but it’s so irrevocably, intensely true that I can’t help myself! What’s important to me now is not to simply acknowledge and bemoan and fret about the elusive nature of time, but to find a way to grasp it every now and then as it flows relentlessly by me.
How? How do we grasp something as elusive and slippery as time? It’s like trying to capture a river in your hands and hold on to it for a while. But it’s possible, I’ve discovered, to slow it down just enough to let it run gently through your fingers, leaving behind bits and pieces of joy and grace. I’ve found that taking just five or ten minutes for myself every morning to center my thoughts, breathe, pray, and run over the long list of things I have to be grateful for helps me approach the day with a bit more mindfulness. That mindfulness is one key to slowing down time and relishing those small moments that seem to pass so quickly.
I’ve also let go of the idea that every moment that matters must be a perfect moment. What does that even mean — perfect? By whose standard? By whose definition? Letting go of society’s ideas of perfection, and only holding myself to my own definition of it, has changed my life, my perspective, and my family with astounding results!
Now, spending an evening sitting on the sofa with my daughters, my husband, and my dogs, watching Tangled for the 100th time, is my idea of the perfect moment. I no longer sit lost in thought during these times, beating myself up for not engaging my children in some educational or creative activity. Who told me that was what a “good” mother would do anyway? I have no idea, but I’ve stifled the voice in my head — the one that repeats the phrase “What a good mother would do is…” and I’ve replaced it with “I am grateful for this joyful moment with my family.”
Even those nights when I’m a bit harried and distracted by dinner preparations, when I’m trying to get everybody wrangled around the dinner table, and when I’m at my wit’s end because Adalaide won’t take even one bite of the homemade mac and cheese that I’ve made are perfect moments. Yup, even then I think “I am grateful for this perfect, crazy, typical moment with my family.”
Trying to be perfect only leads to failure. There’s no such thing as a universal perfect, it doesn’t exist. There’s no universally perfect mother, there’s no universally perfect family, and there’s no universally perfect life. What I’ve finally come to understand is that perfection is like a finger print — totally individual and unique to each one of us.
I’ve made a commitment to myself and my loved ones to let go a little and just be. Be grateful for my perfectly imperfect life. Be forgiving of myself and my faults. Be mindful and aware of when I need to renew myself and focus. Be inspired to create meaningful moments every day, and be in those moments as they happen (without feeling exhausted and stressed after they’re over).
Letting go is a hell of a lot easier than trying to hold on tight to every aspect of your life. It’s a lot more rewarding too, trust me. Having total control is a myth, needing total control is a lie, and clinging harder and harder to the fallacy of control is the death of being in the moment. The only way to slow down time and really savor it is to take the time to appreciate every moment: The lazy, quiet couch time, and even those challenging times when we as mothers and wives feel frustrated and impatient (like those hectic, overwhelming dinners with the kids). All of it matters, all of it counts!
Photo: Katherine Heigl/Instagram