I remember the day vividly.
It was the day before my birthday, and I had two kids under 3. We were preparing to move into our forever home, and our tiny rental was crammed with mountains of boxes. I was feeling overwhelmed and overcome by the clutter, taking care of my tiny babies, and keeping up with my work with the impending move. With so much on my plate, I felt like I wasn’t putting 100 percent into motherhood or spending enough quality time with my husband.
All I remember from that time of my life is feeling frustration and despair. I felt like I was drowning in my own negativity and desire for things to go just right.
The other day, my phone pinged with a notification from Google: “Rediscover This Day Back in 2015.” Doing mental math in my head, I remembered that day before my birthday, and all of those feelings of melancholy came rushing back to me. I opened the app to “rediscover the day,” and to my surprise were pictures of a mom who appeared joyous (and much thinner!), smiling with her two little babies who looked happy and healthy. In the background were moving boxes and piles of things that needed sorting – it was obvious we were moving, and the “clutter” did not look nearly as horrible as I had remembered it in my mind.
I thought to myself, “It wasn’t so bad. What was I so frustrated about?” Our tiny home was bursting at the seams with happiness and life. Why couldn’t I see that?
My kids don’t make the same type of mess they made four years ago. The type of chaos that enveloped our lives four years ago is completely different today. As I looked at the multitude of pictures from that time, I became mad at myself for not fully embracing and appreciating the phase of my life that I was in. Yes, it was chaotic and overwhelming, but it passed in a flash, and now it’s chaotic and overwhelming in a completely different way.
With that little ping notification, I learned something about myself that I kind of already knew – I am never fully present.
I’m always living in the past or some unforeseeable future. When my house is a mess, I get frustrated because I imagine that guests will unexpectedly arrive and I will be judged for not keeping a Martha Stewart-esque type home. When my days are chaotic, I think that it will be this way for years and years with no end in sight. I live with constant guilt from all of the parenting mistakes I’ve made in the past, those when I was a new mom and those when I didn’t have the tools or resources to make better decisions.
My mind is full of remembering the mistakes of my past and anticipating problems in the future.
But what about today?
One of my favorite authors, Eckart Tolle, is quoted as saying, “People don’t realize that now is all there ever is; there is no past or future except as memory or anticipation in your mind.” What I interpret that as is the only thing that is real is the present moment. And if I am to live my life in a truly authentic way, I must embrace all of those moments – the good and bad. I need to let go of my fear of being judged and my desire to live a picture-perfect life.
It’s not easy to do.
I’ve been working on being fully present for some time and haven’t quite mastered it. What I do know is that I don’t want my life to pass me by while I was mentally living somewhere else. I owe it to my family to be present and to teach them the benefits of being present in their own lives as well.
It’s funny how a simple notification on my phone prompted me to reevaluate how I parent and see the world. That day before my birthday was filled with love and promise, yet all I could focus on was the mounting clutter. This simple phone notification has motivated me to stop worrying about tomorrow and regretting yesterday so I can be the best version of myself for myself and my family today.