—Stefanie Armstrong, MS, LIMHP

On this Sunday afternoon, I’m trying to desperately shove all of the things I “have” to do before tomorrow…so instead I decide to sit down and write.  What do the best procrastinators do?  When things get too much, they do something they really love to do rather than the crap they “have” to do.  You see, it’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving and we are going to the lake to relax — but what is that…relax?  As I write this, I’ve just come down from a “keep my mouth closed, take deep breaths while my three boys wrestle, run and fight instead of doing what they were told to do” stress fest.  My husband and I, thinking we had this thing in the bag, had a morning breakfast meeting with them, even making a list.  A list — I know, very official.  But still, it was excruciating for them to complete these tasks in a way that was as efficient as our morning list-making meeting.  I mean how in the heck could they be so off-task? We set up the expectations — and did I say — WE EVEN MADE A LIST! But during this time, as I kept my mouth shut, I could feel my insides raging.  “Why can’t they do this?”  “Why do they keep doing exactly the opposite of what we ask?”  “Why don’t they see that if they do this, we can have fun later?”  I mean, we even told them that!

Why, as they put the towels away, do they have to “accidently” kick one another and chase each other and play the trumpet and pretend they are fishing off of the bunk bed with the trumpet, throw the football at each other and laugh and play jokes on one another and stop and play with a toy on the floor and on and on and on…..

As I lock myself in our closet, I turn on a five-minute meditation so I can pull myself together because on that list was, “and mommy will not yell or lose her temper….” shhhh, it’s a secret, I know — I’m a therapist and I’m not supposed to do that, right?  Ok, don’t tell anyone, but sometimes this less-than-perfect-mom loses it.  There, I said it.  Sometimes I lose it.  By losing it, I mean, my feelings get the best of me, and I erupt, “Why can’t you boys just do what you are told!?!” And then I go on for about another minute-and-a-half until I realize, “Ahhhh, this is bad. Not effective.  Get control of yourself, sister!”

But after my little tirades, I remind myself that the reason my kids act the way they act and the reason I act the way I act (my tirade, I promised not to do) is because they are kids and I am an adult. I know, profound information here, right?  Here’s what I mean:

Kids have this uncanny way of living in the moment. Living in the here and now.  Finding fun in putting the towels away and knowing that doing it perfectly is not a big deal.  Kids don’t worry about time or the way the towels are folded or the list of “have to do’s.”  They don’t worry about these mostly insignificant things.  But we adults, we grown-ups, we fun-killers have been slowly conditioned to get all uptight and ruminate over things that really in the long run don’t matter much at all.  A perfectly folded towel?  Really?  A beautifully organized linen closet? Matched socks?  In the grand scheme of life, what matters?  As adults we have been, day after day, conditioned to put more emphasis on the tedious mundane things in life rather than living in the now. Living in laughter. Pretending that a trumpet is a fish. Throwing the dang football.

So I’m not saying to stop doing all the grown-up things that are your responsibility and play, play, play.  But what I am saying is make an effort, as much as you can, to see life through a child’s eyes.  Stop and play once in a while.  Don’t look at the time and live in this moment — and the next one and the one after that.  After all, I think if I did more of that, I wouldn’t have had to lock myself in the closet, away from my kids, to meditate.  I would have been loving those crazy moments that won’t be around much longer because soon they will be fun-killers working hard to live in the moment….or maybe not.