My gift to myself

By Published On: December 24th, 2014

The stockings are hung. The packages are wrapped. We’re halfway […]

McKinley_8MonthBea_12-24-14The stockings are hung. The packages are wrapped. We’re halfway through our road trip, feeling comfy and cozy and happy to be momentarily stationary at my parent’s house. And I’ve eaten enough cookies to last a lifetime (or at least another year).
I always feel excitement, relief and a tinge of sadness on Christmas Eve. Months of planning has finally culminated into a clean to-do list and a pile of pretty presents, but even though I’m happy it’s finally here, I’m a little bummed that this night signals the turning point—all of the glittery festivities are coming to an end. No more lights and bells everywhere we go; the tree gets put away; and the next time I’m in Target every ounce of tinsel will be replaced with all-things-Valentine’s day (which, I’m not complaining, because I get pretty pumped about that holiday, too! I say, “Yay for commercialism!”).
I kind of feel the same way about Bea. Every milestone is a bittersweet moment. It’s so thrilling to see her learn, grow and change and then move on to the next thing, but I get a tinge of sadness knowing that the last short-lived phase of her life has passed.
She hit the 8-month mark this past weekend. I know 8 months is still tiny and young and ultra-babyish, but more than any of her past months this one seems to feel bigger. Maybe it’s because she physically is so much bigger. Or, because of all the distractions, the time went by really quickly. Or because she hit so many milestones this month. She sits, she crawls, she pulls up (that one is a doozy!), and she babbles endlessly. It’s been a blur!
I know it’s a cliché to say that time flies, but it’s so true. Instead of just saying it passively, though, I’m making it my goal to really remember what that means. It’s very easy for me to get caught up in what’s happening tomorrow or next week or next month, and I can distract myself from what’s going on right in front of me. And because Bea is changing so much so fast, that means I run the risk of missing something big just by being caught up in something small and frivolous.
That’s why I’ve picked a present for myself this year: presence. I’m going to try harder to be mentally, emotionally and physically aware and engaged. Not just with Bea, but with my husband, my work and myself, too. I know I’ll still worry about getting everything done—laundry, errands, articles, packing, unpacking, and on, and on, and on—but I’m going to attempt to set aside my fussing and fretting and just enjoy the moment.
I can’t promise that I’ll be good at it. Actually, I know there will be a pretty long and frustrating adjustment time. But my hope is that by the time Bea is old enough to remember, she won’t feel like her day-to-day experiences are rushed, unimportant or easily forgotten. I want her to have an appreciation of contentedness and of patience, and the best way to provide those intangibles is to be a living example—and, trust me, I fail hard in this arena. But I want to be better.
I’m going to start my commitment to the here-and-now tomorrow morning when Bea wakes up. (I think I deserve one more evening of worrying about how I’m going to work off that pound cake I just demolished!) I’m going to let her play with her gifts—or more likely, gnaw on the boxes and stare at her reflection in the shiny papers and ornaments—and really enjoy watching her take it all in instead of stressing about naptime or how we’re going to fit her new wagon in the back of the car. (Thanks, Grammy and Grandpa!)
At least it’s a start.
I hope you also have a very happy holiday filled with presents and presence alike. And if you have any secrets for staying focused or traveling with babies, dogs and wagons, I’d love to hear ‘em!
Merry Christmas!