A reminder to be present rather than striving for perfect
I had my evening perfectly planned out. The boys would go down on time, I’d tidy the kitchen, put away the many mounds of washing that have dried over the last few sunny days and then I’d sit and do some writing. Ah, lovely. I imagine you’ve already guessed that I fell at the first hurdle. Big brother actually went down very quickly albeit in his ‘floor bed’ as he refused to sleep in his actual bed but Little brother has only just settled. The combination of the hot weather and the 8-week developmental leaps are not conducive to easy bedtimes it seems.
However, as I was upstairs feeding, ssshing and patting him I was reminiscing about what it was like the first time around with just one baby. Although he did get himself settled into a routine pretty quickly I still didn’t manage to get all that much done. On so many days my husband would come home and I’d be back in the same spot feeding Big brother and wondering what else I’d actually done with my day.
And now, I have a baby and a toddler and I feel like I never get done as much as I’d like. Well, of course, I don’t! Reading that sentence back to myself I think, ‘what a wally! You have a baby and a (super energetic) toddler, that’s going to take up a lot of your time.’
I recently read, and am now listening to, a book called Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist and I am finding it such a good reminder of how I want to be in the midst of the messiness of parenthood.
‘Present over perfect living is real over image, connecting over comparing, meaning over mania, depth over artifice. Present over perfect living is the risky and revolutionary belief that the world God has created is beautiful and valuable on its own terms, and that it doesn’t need to be zhuzzed up and fancy in order to be wonderful.
Sink deeply into the world as it stands. Breathe in the smell of rain and the scuff of leaves as they scrape across driveways on windy nights. This is where life is, not in some imaginary, photo-shopped dreamland. Here. Now. You, just as you are. Me, just as I am. This world, just as it is. This is the good stuff. This is the best stuff there is. Perfect has nothing on truly, completely, wide-eyed, open-souled present.’
I don’t know about you but as I read that I find myself taking a deep breath and longing to feel that present. I want to sink deeply into the world and to appreciate all that God has created, to be really present in my relationships and not to miss out on real because of an image I have in my head.
I find myself asking, is it more important that I held my kids deeply and comforted them for as long as they needed or that my washing is put away?
Does it matter if we’re a few minutes later out of the door to nursery because I stopped to play ‘swords’ with Big brother, or because we spent that little bit longer chatting over breakfast?
Is it ok that the last room in our house isn’t yet unpacked when we’ve chosen to spend more time resting and enjoying our new space and each other’s company?
On paper the answers to all those questions are obvious. On paper, of course, it’s going to be difficult to get ALL the jobs around the house done now that I have a baby and a toddler! But, in reality, I know I need reminding of that. I need reminding to stop, to be present, to focus on God and to be in the moment.
As I write this I am looking out the window into our garden. Right now I am going to head outside to fill up my bird feeders so tomorrow I can find a moment to sit, breathe deeply and simply watch the birds. For me, that is one place where I feel really present and find myself in awe of the beauty of God’s creation.
Are you striving for perfect rather than being present? What difference would it make if you let perfect slip and went for being completely present in the moment? Even if just for a moment.