Photo courtesy of Allison Cooper

When The Realest Moments Get Lost In The Shuffle

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Earlier this week, I had a pretty intense deadline. I woke up and practically ran to my French press, ushered my older son out the front door for the bus and began mad typing at the keyboard as soon as I possibly could. Mornings are always the time of day whenever all the bright ideas flood my thoughts and I’m able to do my best work. I will admit though, that during that morning scramble, my toddler kind of got lost in the shuffle. I had plopped her in her high chair with breakfast and turned on a show, giving me a hopeful 20 minutes to get a chunk of work done. Then, the day only got busier from there.

I was overwhelmed. Sometimes these busy days creep upon me where it seems like I’m pulled in so many different directions. I really do try my hardest to schedule downtime and low-key days so that I’m mentally fully prepared for these moments where I need to put on my super work-from-home-mom cape and take over the world. But I let things really get in the way that day and I knew she wasn’t getting enough attention from me. So, my little Blake did what every other toddler in the same position would do: she got into trouble. She was going to have my attention in some way and getting into everything within her eye level was it.

Instead of having time to really dig into my work and knock out everything I needed to do, I kept having to set my project aside and redirect Blake from the refrigerator, her brother’s drawers, the game with small pieces she just dumped on the floor. I was feeling quite overwhelmed as I realized she could now open all the bedroom door knobs.

Add child door knob locks to the Amazon cart, I thought as I sat her wiggly body down and tried to get her to, instead, jump on our indoor trampoline. She wasn’t having it, if you were wondering. I realized that being a mom of a toddler really is just a lot of redirecting all day long.

She crawled into my lap and put both of my arms around her waist. She didn’t just want my attention, but needed it in that moment.

I’ll admit that I was distracted. The same way that we all get whenever the busy day takes over and we have to succumb to all of its wants and needs because bills need to be paid. But our kids are only little once.

It all hit me, and hit me hard, whenever she finally walked over to where I was sitting on the couch with the laptop on my legs and closed the computer. Her toddler strength set it in the couch cushion to my right and she crawled into my lap and put both of my arms around her waist. She didn’t just want my attention, but needed it in that moment.

I put all my work stress aside, squeezed her tight with both arms — instead of having one hand on my phone.

We sat like that and I watched all of her beautiful expressions as she watched Sing for the millionth time and relished in that one moment. Then, she let out a huge giggle, which made me giggle. At that moment, I made a really big wish that I could freeze time and sent it out into the universe.

We all know, though, that freezing time isn’t possible and that while my wish won’t be successfully coming true anytime soon, this day held a lesson. It taught me that even though I can’t bottle my kids up and freeze them at certain ages, I need to let go of the routines and schedules more often and be present with them. We hear it over and over again, be present, and I know sometimes it’s easier said than done — but we have to make this happen.

Here’s the secret sauce, parents: being present, just simply being there and paying attention, give us a greater connection with our kids. Those moments of pure connectivity build bonds over the years so strong that they cannot be broken. Then as the years go by, and our kids do eventually grow older, those bonds will keep them coming back to us. They will come to us for all the answers to life's questions they are seeking, they will come to us to cook their favorite childhood meals, they will come to us and remember the good times from their childhood. And then we can get lost in those memories together.

I know that if I don’t take time to step aside from work and cleaning and endless to-do lists to keep building those bonds with my children, they will most certainly grow up to look at me differently than they do now.

We all wish our kids wouldn't grow up, but if what you're really hanging onto is that bond, then you have to embrace the present and relish in what’s happening now. Because before you know it, now will be gone.