by Tanya Ward Goodman
Recently, I found myself in ten feet of ocean water, floating with the current over an amazing sea floor landscape. I was “drift snorkeling” which is to say, I was letting the water do the work while I took in the sights. As I floated I saw schools of fish with gleaming turquoise colored heads, anemones waving gummy tentacles and a crimson starfish roughly the size of a sofa cushion. I drifted over an anchor that had become home for coral and sand dollars as big as my palm. Of course, there were moments when I wanted to stop and investigate, but the movement of the water made it difficult to pause. When I tried to put on the brakes, my clumsy fins brought up clouds of sand and often I wound up with a mouthful of salt water. So I stopped trying. I let the world float along beneath me and I tried to take as much pleasure as I could from each fleeting thing.
I tell this story now because it is already a week into the 2011 and time is as fleeting as an ocean current. I have tried to slow down, tried to think about what last year meant and about what meaning I can bring to this year, but it is difficult because I am always in motion. I am a mother of two children, six and eight, and their motors tend to propel my days at a pace more like a speedboat than a vacationing snorkeler. I have thought about making resolutions, but I think I may still be formulating my last year resolves. Instead, it is my goal to relax into my two-child existence with at least a fraction of the peace with which I floated in the sea.
These kids make big waves and I am all but powerless to swim against the tide. I am often frustrated because I am not “savoring the moment” as much as I should be. The kids have soccer games and chorus concerts, skinned knees and lost teeth and all these big things sometimes get lost in the wash of our day. It is possible for weeks to flow by in one unending stream of wake-up-breakfast-pack lunch-pick up-homework-dinner-bed. And suddenly it will be April or June or (holy smokes) December. This pace frustrates me, but there is little I can do about it.
I spent a lot of last year saying, “things are hectic.” Like it was some kind of surprise. Things are hectic and they will be for some time. But it doesn’t mean I can’t take a minute to notice how my son’s big new front teeth make for a bright smile or how my daughter has grown slim and graceful in her ballet costume. The trees in the park have lost their leaves and the bare branches are stark against the sky. Our dog wraps both her paws around my arm when I stroke her ears. My husband looks at me and smiles and his eyes crinkle in the most wonderful way. There are as many lovely moments in the day as there were beautiful things on the sea floor. Though I may be moving past them at a rapid rate, this year, I am determined to appreciate as many of them as I can.
TANYA WARD GOODMAN is a writer living in Los Angeles, CA with her two children and husband. She is an award-winning memoirist, and weekly contributor to Thenextfamily.com. In addition to writing about parenthood, she also scribes travel and food articles, and is currently at work on a novel.
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