Last weekend I attended a one-day Mother’s group as a part of a research study. For four hours we shared our struggles and joys of parenting. We talked a lot about mindfulness and being present in the everyday moments of your life. I know about mindfulness generally, but it wasn’t until this group that I realized that being mindful is a real part of my everyday life and that is absolutely key to my joy and well being.
Many people have a “practice” of mindfulness. They work over time to be more aware and to cultivate a state of being present. I’ve never practiced at it, but I seem to naturally be a generally mindful person. For example, I take great joy in simple, everyday moments and experiences. Adventure for me is everywhere. I get excited in anticipation of and greatly enjoy my small, everyday rituals. My morning tea, evening bedtime routine with you, the simple spinach salad I have four out of five of my weekday lunches: these each give me great joy.
All of this is just to say: that you’re going to hear these cliche statements all the time as you grow up. Live in the present. Stop and smell the roses. But really all they’re trying to say is love your life. The small moments and the great ones: love them equally. Delight in the world. Don’t let the known things and experiences of the everyday lose their magic for you. Delight in your life. And the best way to do that is to acknowledge in your mind and heart what gives you joy, shout it out to the world if you can, and then be grateful.
Gratitude gives me great joy, and the most I can hope for you is a life of daily joy and gratitude.
I want you to have favorite songs and favorite trails to walk in and favorite rituals you do just by yourself. I want you to have favorite mundane tasks at work that you love to do because of their ease and feeling of accomplishment. I want you to find joy in the moments of peace and rest after the challenge and stress of work or school.
Whenever possible, I want you to do one thing at a time. Whether that be laughing with friends or devouring a delicious piece of chocolate pie or grooving in dance class. Sometimes multitasking is a necessary part of life, but try as much as you can to put down your screens and be in the world. Use all your senses. Breathe in the world. Smell it’s bittersweet aroma. Hear the waves crashing.
If you’re cursed (or blessed) like me, you may not have the best memory. Mine seems to be the worst. Sometimes that makes me feel like I’m somehow not as smart or as good as others. Other times it makes me grateful that I don’t spend to much time trying to relive the past. You can’t relive what you barely remember. That was one of the reasons I started writing a blog: to have a real catalogue of my experiences written down to relive later. The truth is I rarely reread old posts (although I’m sure these letters will be the exception in that case), but the exercise of documenting and feeling gratitude for my experiences has been just as valuable as reliving them.
If you’re blessed with an amazing memory like your father, learn to let the past go a little. Breathe it out and let it go so you can enjoy the now.
(Almost) Every single time I hold you as you sleep or when you’re nursing I think, This moment is so precious. I am so grateful. I know that these days of cuddles and mommy-is-everything are fleeting, and boy am I enjoying every single one.
I may not remember every amazing facial expression that you make, but I will remember how much joy you give me every single day and how much love I feel for you all the time. My heart could burst.
You, my darling girl, have so much personality. You always have been and always will be magnificent. Your personality is so big and so sparkling. I’m not sure how else to really capture it except to say you’ve got swagger. You are bold and adventurous and fearless, and I’m so unembarrasingly proud to be your mama.
This week we’ve been with my family, so I’ve gotten to share in my joy of you. You’re cuddled with your Gigi and Doc. You’ve stared wide-eyed at your older cousins. I thought you would sleep through your first fourth of July fireworks, but you woke to the blasts and sat quietly in my lap in awe as they lit up the sky. You went to your first cirque show, and again, you were so good. You watched wide-eyed as the acrobats sailed through the sky, and you sat straight up on my lap and laughed over and over again at the clown acts. <—that killed me. To watch you comprehend enough of what was happening to laugh along with the crowd and squeal with glee. You’re so smart, my girl.
You are almost ten months old, and you are walking and singing and dancing and learning. You love avocado and chicken and nectarines.
Oh, and one more thing: Take Vacations. As I write this I am sitting calmly at your grandparent’s table in complete silence. You are napping upstairs with your Papa. I have no place to go and no place to be. In the rest and calm that comes with recharging also comes the space to think. Writing to you from this space feels so much better than my furious typing of exhausted thoughts at 11pm on Thursday evenings. Give yourself the space and time to think.
I am so grateful for you.
You are so loved, my Beanshine, always,