I’m not very good at staying in the present. A natural worrier, I tend to get myself into a spiral of anxiety about the future. Or I rehash past events, wondering if there’s anything I could have said or done differently to change the outcome, if it’s my fault things turned out the way they did. Or I come up with hypothetical situations that have little to no basis in reality. My mind is constantly chattering to itself about one thing or another. I’ve tried yoga and meditation, but I just don’t seem to be very good at keeping my attention focused on now.
Even when I’m with my daughter, I’m not always paying attention to the present moment. I check my phone too often. I mentally compile my to-do list. Every time I hear the ping of my husband’s email notification, I wonder if it’s about a job. I write blog posts in my head, most of which never make it to the screen.
But there are moments–all too fleeting–when she pulls me back. Like when I’m watching her attempt a new skill–those first wobbly steps, the concentration involved in pushing the button that makes the monkey pop up, hugging her bear puppet and smacking air kisses–moments I mark as important milestones, the ones I know I’ll want to remember with particular clarity. Or when she reaches for my hand during one of our middle-of-the-night nursing sessions, and I am keenly aware of the warmth of her fingers on my skin. Or when I’m rocking her at bedtime and breathe in the honeyed scent of her hair. Or the sound of her laugh when I flip her upside down, and she shrieks with delight.
Those are the moments she is the best mindfulness teacher in the world.