I recently got a tattoo to remind me to be present, to always choose growth, and to not try for perfection (because, seriously?). I wish it were that easy. I have ink stained into my skin where I see it regularly and I still (probably more often than not) am incredibly distracted and busy. It’s so easy to get to that place where it has been DAYS since you’ve taken a deep breath, looked at yourself in the mirror, or thought about how crazy it is that you literally grew and gave birth to the little person that you take care of. And, here we all are, reading this blog, following along with other mommas just like us who are just trying to do the best they can.
To me, mindfulness is recognizing that every moment can be used for growth. The time that you choose to be patient instead of hasty as you wait for your baby to tie his shoes ever so slowly. Or the time that you choose to spend with your husband and kids instead of singing “hallelujah” that he came home and you finally get a break (although that’s necessary sometimes too!) It’s easy to see the growth that comes from triumphant battles (such as birth) but it’s not always as easy to remember that every single moment or decision in the mundane days of life is where growth really happens.
It can be so hard to remain present when you have bills to pay, doctors appointments to go to, soccer practice to make snacks for, and somewhere in there you have to get dinner on the table too. It can be easy to forget to kiss your husband and be happy when he comes in the door. It can be easy to tie your little baby’s shoes for him when you have places to be. But growth happens when you’re mindful. Growth happens when you gently stroke your husband’s face and tell him that you missed him. Growth happens when your baby looks up at you and smiles SO BIG because he got his shoes on the right feet all by himself. Growth happens in the small moments when you choose gentleness, kindness, patience.
Ironically enough, because growth is a two steps forward-one step back sort of a thing, when I went to get my tattoo I used the experience to grow and then take a step back. I get this incredible anxiety when I think that people will be making judgments about me (that I’m stupid, unintelligent, etc…totally unfounded, I might add) Normally I would hold this sort of thing in and probably just be in a bad mood. However, for the sake of growth, the day I went to get my tattoo I expressed by worries to my husband, and like the saint that he (sometimes) is, he quelled my fears with ease. I continued on with my day, excited to get my tattoo. Then we get there, and I freeze. The guy draws something up and I like it, but I expected something a little bigger but I don’t say anything! I’m like “yeah, looks great!” My husband says, “are you sure you don’t want it to be a little bigger?” I finally work up the courage to tell the tattoo artist that I want it a little bigger and he’s like “okay, no problem!” So we go on with it. If I had been any more honest, I would have gotten it a lot bigger. I would have had sweeping letters all the way across my forearm because that’s the kind of reminder I needed and wanted. But I froze. I was getting the tattoo to promote growth and mindfulness in my life! But, now when I look at it, I am reminded that growth takes practice. Lots and lots of practice.
What I want you to see is that growth doesn’t just happen over night. Growth happens in the endless hard work of being mindful. You have to choose it. You have to take a moment and make yourself slow down to see the good bits. It does not ever look perfect. But you get there. You get to the point where you take a couple of deep breaths a day. You get incredibly happy instead of peeved when your babe wants to do something for himself (even if it takes him a million years). And you’ll greet your husband and you’ll be happy he’s home, just because you’ve missed him. And if you do miss some moments, know that it happens. Exhaustion sets in and the ability to feel like you can be mindful of anything except how tired you are seems preposterous. But eventually, hopefully, you’ll realize that life is a little bit sweeter when it’s slowed down.