The Gift of Presence in Parenting

I’m reminded of a circus clown when I think back on what my days were often like raising our three children. I was juggling several things at once, not always well, but I managed. Every day seemed like a constant balancing act – making sure everyone’s needs were met. And more often than not I felt as if I was in that tiny clown car going round and round in circles.

I mention this because I think as parents we try to be more than we could ever possibly be, and in the process we end up not being fully present for ourselves, our partners or our children. There were times when I would be so involved in planning and making sure everyone was where they needed to be that I’d forget to take a breath and enjoy the moment. I live on an island near Seattle, and I could go days without fully appreciating the natural beauty surrounding me.

One day as I was driving mindlessly to pick up one of my children from school (I think they were in three separate schools at the time) I drove under two wooden bumblebees thrown over the power lines. To this day I have no clue as to who put them there or why, but I am certain they were meant for me. Without skipping a beat I said to myself, “Just Bee” and just like that something washed over me. I suddenly realized how not presentI had become.

As I continued to drive the car I started to notice my breathing, paid attention to my posture and how I was tensing my shoulders. I kept a closer eye on the speedometer (that was a good thing). The bumblebees are no longer there; but now when I drive under those power lines it’s a simple reminder to bring my attention back to the present moment.

And then my children became teenagers. The circus act calmed down a bit but my knack for multi-tasking did not. When my middle daughter was 16 she and I were having a conversation in our kitchen. She was sitting at the counter and I was standing on the other side pretending to listen to her while I was doing 5 other things. At one point in the conversation she reached across the counter and gently grabbed my face and said, “Mom, Mom, pay attention to me. I’m talking to you.”

OK, this time I really got it. Not only was I not fully present for the conversation but I was also missing out on a precious opportunity to connect with my daughter.

These are just two examples from my life that illustrate the importance of self-care. If you would like additional strategies, send me an email and we can schedule a parent coaching consultation. I can help you find that balance between taking care of yourself and taking care of your family.