Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Be here now

I have never been a very Zen person. I am all about the multi-tasking, the planning ahead, the worrying obsessively about whether in the grand holiday rotation I am going to host Thanksgiving or Christmas, and what will Ess wear, and what will she be doing then, will she be eating solid food and if so what does that mean for the menu and, boy I'd better go look up some recipes right now. And then in the middle of that remembering that I should be working on some freelance thing, and generally flitting around like a bumblebee with a very short attention span.

I'm realizing, though, that this is not a very effective way to parent. Nevermind the blisteringly obvious fact that it's not a good way to be in a relationship either. But D doesn't change at the pace Ess does... and it's Ess who is reminding me that I need to chill out, slow down and actually be with her every day, as often as I can, instead of sitting next to her reading about Brad Pitt's new movie while she plays in her gym and absentmindedly cooing, "Hi, baby! Are you kicking? Isn't that a nice crinkly dragonfly?"

I'm not saying that I need to spend every single minute focused on her; I don't think that would be healthy, either. But she's been around long enough that I'm starting to see how quickly she really does change, and how fast she's growing up. And I want to really experience those moments, to really see her and be with her as she is today, without worrying about whether she's growing out of those pants or if that might be a tooth coming in.

Phantom had a post a while back -- which Google is not helping me find -- that mentioned Everyday Blessings, a book on mindful parenting. I checked it out of the library and read most of it before returning it a week late. (See, I was so busy being present in the reading of it that I failed to notice the due date. Either that or I knew it was due but somehow could not make it to the library that is one mile from my house.) Anyway, the book is full of info on mindfulness, and using meditation and deep breathing as a daily practice to help you in times of stress. (I am horrifically oversimplifying here.)

So I've been trying to put that into practice every now and then. Since I have the attention span of a tse tse fly these days, it is HARD. And I'm not sure that growing up in a fast-talking New Jersey Italian family is exactly good preparation for meditation, nor that I really want to give up my ability to switch quickly from one track in my brain to the next. But I have to say that my moments of Zen -- few and far between though they may be -- are pretty cool. When Ess is crying and I can feel myself tightening up and getting frustrated with her, I am occasionally (very occasionally) able to breathe my way through it and talk myself down.

And so to bring this overly wordy post to a close, that is a little of what I'm trying to accomplish by participating in NaBloPoMo. To write a little every day, to capture a moment or two in our lives, to focus on today. As for the fact that I actually wrote this post last night in anticipation of a very busy day today? Well, you can't go from schizophrenic multitasking to sitting zazen in one easy step.