As I sit here in the wee hours of the morning, before my family wakes up, I am reminded about how important it is to be “present.” I have had a challenging last few months, to say the least. I opened a new tutoring business and finished the end of my 22nd school year as a full time teacher, in addition to being a full time mom, wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend… And so, I sit here reflecting over the last few months, watching my youngest daughter sleep on the video monitor, I know I wasn’t “present” for anyone, including myself.
I currently homeschool my daughter who just finished kindergarten. [See previous BLOG Post: Why Homeschooling is the ONLY option for my family.] Although I know it is the right decision for her and for our family, it isn’t easy working full time. Thankfully, I have a very supportive husband. As a result of trying to homeschool and work full time, I realized I needed to find a more flexible schedule so I could put just as much energy into teaching my own daughter as I do into teaching other people’s children. I opened a tutoring business in our town because I didn’t want to leave teaching completely, but I knew it would allow me to have more time to homeschool my daughter. I knew it was going to be hectic for a little while as I was not only teaching full time, but I was also tutoring for a few hours every day after school. I was doing this to grow my business, but I never imagined the stress it was going to add to my life and to my family.
Since deciding to open a tutoring business, either my thoughts were a million miles away or I was on the computer or smartphone “researching” and “learning” the best way to build my business and to support my family after I left full time teaching. My thoughts were consumed about how I was going to be able to financially provide for my family. The irony of all this “thinking” and planning is that it took me AWAY from being present WITH my family which was the reason I began doing all of this “stuff” in the first place. My goal was (and still is) to be able to spend MORE time with my family.
Planning and preparing to leave full time teaching has taken me AWAY from those I love and want to spend my time with the most. My friendships have been pushed to the wayside as I tell myself it’s only temporary. My children have hardly seen me over the past few months as I tell myself it’s only temporary. I show up at family gatherings with a glazed look on my face. Even when I’ve been home, I’ve been a million miles away. Whether I am in my home office “working” or in the same room as my family, I was always “working.”
It has come to a point, when I am questioning myself… Who is this benefiting if I’m always “working” and not spending time with the ones I love? How is spending less time with my family now affecting my present relationship with them? How is spending less time with my family now going to affect my future relationships with them? Is the time I’m spending now going to be worth it in the end?
My goal has always been to spend MORE time with my family… being PRESENT with my family… watching THEM and not a computer screen. Listening to THEM and not to my own thoughts and to JUST.BE.PRESENT.
It breaks my heart thinking back to a few weeks ago when my closest and dearest friend asked me if she had offended me because she hasn’t seen or heard from me in a while (more like in five or six months, although she was being gracious). And the thought hits me like a load of bricks: I haven’t even been present for my closest friend who has been by my side through some of the best and worst times of my life. If my dearest friend thinks I’ve been distant with her, then how is my family feeling? And for that I am deeply saddened.
Oh, the many times I’ve come in the door and the first thing my 3 year old says is, “Mama, are you going to work?” even though I just came HOME from work. And on the rare occasion I was home when she woke up, either before going to work or on a Sunday, she would say, “Mama, do you have to work today?” While my answer was “No, today is a home day,” I knew that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to work. It just meant I wasn’t leaving the house to work.
As I sit here this morning in a quiet house, with those I love the most and would do anything in the world for, I am reminded that being “present” and giving my family ME, (and not just a part of me) is what I will be doing from today forward. I am making myself a promise that I will make a conscious effort, starting right now, to be “PRESENT” with everything they say and everything they do. I will be “PRESENT” while listening to them and while spending time with them because, after all, being WITH THEM is the most important thing in the whole world to me. Somehow, I got lost along the way. I can only hope and pray that they see a difference in me beginning today. I want them to know how much I love them and want to be with them. I want to be “PRESENT” in every moment of their lives.
P.S.- This took me three mornings to write so I could be “present” with my family when they were awake. So far, I am on the right track. BEING “present” is the BEST present I can give my family.