Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Being Present

My thoughts today aren't particularly about being a mother, or about food allergies, but I hope they will be helpful to all of you as we are in the midst of the holiday season. Today I re-learned the importance and benefit of being present in the moment.

With 4 children, life often feels quite chaotic to me. I can never finished today's To Do List today, and there are always interruptions that cause a task to take longer than I planned. As a result, I have become a master at multi-tasking. Some of my multi-tasking is very beneficial, such as bringing a book or magazine in the car so I can do a little reading while I wait for my kids to come out of their activity. However, I have noticed more and more often that I am thinking about the next important task while doing this important task, and as a result I make mistakes.

Two days after Thanksgiving, my kids wanted to start decorating for Christmas. I agreed, and out came the tree, the boxes of ornaments, dozens of strings of lights--we don't actually use them all when we decorate, but we like to have options. Once the tree was up and there were ornaments, boxes, lights, packing material and ribbon spread all over the living room and dining room, the kids started asking about making gingerbread houses. Soon after that, they wanted to make candy for their teachers. I said no, we need to finish decorating, clean it up, and then begin planning our next Christmas project. Sophie asked me why, and the answer that came out of my mouth is so completely true: in order for me to enjoy Christmastime and all the traditions we have surrounding Christmas, I need to be present for today's activities and complete them before I move on to the next thing.

Today I got to try out "being present" in a very small way. Wednesday is my baking day. I decided to make muffins. The past few times I have made muffins, I was so rushed that I didn't spray my muffin tins well and ended up with muffins stuck in the pans, or breaking as I took them out. Today I was enjoying making muffins and focused on my task. I sprayed the muffin tins liberally. I measured and mixed ingredients accurately. And when the muffins were baked, 25 of 28 muffins came out of the pans beautifully, because I was present and focused on the activity at hand, instead of thinking about something else while I worked on the muffins.

A successful batch of muffins is much more satisfying than a ruined batch of muffins and a half-ruined batch of cookies. Being present and enjoying today's activity is more important to me than completing a long list of things that I won't remember doing. I hope that you will also choose to slow down at this hectic time of year and be present for the important things.

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