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Present Tense

May 7, 2012

Written by Marykate Wurster, mom of 3 from Riverside, Connecticut

My youngest child is graduating from preschool in two weeks. She is graduating from a school that has been lovingly entwined in her life, and all of ours, for five consecutive years. She was first there at 6 weeks with her older sister and brother for Visiting Day, and many trips followed being carried in and out in her infant carrier. The following year she was back, this time squirming out of my arms to crawl and finally as a toddler, teetering down the familiar hallway determined to attend school like her siblings before her. And as I write this, I can scarcely think where the past five years have gone.

We have been through sleepless nights, and potty training and the terrible twos. And she is now ready to embark on kindergarten. With her older siblings I am suddenly hosting sleepovers, and setting rules about internet usage and iPods. And when I tell them it’s time to dress or make their beds, they do it without me helping them, at all. They clear their dishes from the table (most of the time), can tie laces and fix themselves a bowl of cereal. I just stand back and think how wonderful and sad it is.

Parenting is the art of letting go, little by little. The sadness is that the days of babyhood and toddlers are gone, remaining only in photographs and scrapbooks; and the knowledge that these days too are fleeting. Good Night Moon makes way for One Morning in Maine and then the American Girl series. Playgroups morph into playdates. And with every mark on the growth chart, there is also the reward. The joy is seeing the once shy and reserved child blossom into someone confident, with a strong voice. And to watch the child who clung to you on the first day of preschool go bounding into the elementary school doors with gusto.

And so, I am trying to savor these days. I am reminding myself that sleepovers lead to sleeping away at college and then in one’s own house. And that time will have its own joys too. But today, I want to focus on what I have here, and now. One of my favorite essays on motherhood is by Anna Quindlen and she says, “The biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough.” It is something I work at all the time for there is always a load of laundry calling to me, or an email to send or a call to return, but these moments will surely slip away while the laundry remains. I am not sure I will ever master this but if I can get it right once in a while, that will be enough.

Mothers and friends, does this resonate with you? For me, there are always the endless to do lists and as a “doer ” I gravitate towards the next thing on my list. I find being out of the house helps – I am much more present on an outing – at the zoo or beach where I can’t tackle the laundry!  Who else struggles with this? Has anyone been able to get this right?

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  1. Whitney

      on May 7, 2012 5:49 pm

    So true! I agree that getting out of the house helps a ton. I keep telling myself, “Be here now”


  2. Marykate Wurster

      on May 8, 2012 11:12 am

    Be here now. I like it – will use that one! I read a qoute once that said, “be here now, be somewhere else later. Is it really that complicated?”. I love that. And somedays however, it does feel complicated!!


  3. Anne Schenendorf

      on May 8, 2012 1:19 pm

    Oh, this made me cry, big floppy tears because this was so well said. I don’t know if I cry because it is my Goddaugher, or if also because I have thought this of my own babies who are three and a half years behind. I think that is the irony of parenthood. For the moment they are tiny babies you have to memorize the moment because if you blink your eyes it will be gone. My twin boys are seventeen months old at 29 weeks started their days in the NICU. Those days- two months of them, seemed to tick away. I was so glad when they were gone. That winter was one of blizzards and we cherished every second snuggled at home. Still, the moments fly by. Summer finally came and then the crawling ans much later walking. I recorded every moment yet almost two years later it is such a blur. Be present is fantastic advice but even not blinking won’t slow timwe. I relate so much to my mother-in-law now because I know one day very soon I will wake up and my babies will be waving at me from the car.


  4. Marykate Wurster

      on May 8, 2012 1:38 pm

    Thanks Anne. It does go so fast and somehow all the markers – graduations and birthdays and “the firsts” – first steps, first words, and first time riding a bike – all cause us to pause and take stock of what we have, the greatest gifts we could ever receive. And those moments also remind us to simply be thankful for what we have – wonderful, amazing and sometimes super challenging in a good way, kids!!


  5. Cathy Monaco

      on May 8, 2012 3:21 pm

    I’m 180 degrees away from your experiences, MK yet I completely and utterly understand and agree with every word of it. Interesting how everyone is so immersed in the errands that we never really do see the day. Monday we start fresh and Tuesday is so busy and Wednesday is confusing and Thursday has possibilities and fabulous Friday makes us smile and Saturday we ignore the world then Sunday comes around and we all say……”ugh. tomorrow is Monday again”. So…to your point….let’s all try and breathe…and appreciate what we have at the momemt we have it. and maybe, get to see what a day actually looks like.
    Thanks for your point of view. :)


  6. Marykate Wurster

      on May 8, 2012 8:51 pm

    Cathy, so so true. I love how you put that – we get so immersed we don’t see the day – beautiful, and simple, and eloquent. Thank you for this!


  7. Joanne Schenendorf

      on May 14, 2012 1:23 pm

    I am the mother-in-law in Anne’s comment above, waving to my son and daughter-in-law and the twin babies through the car. I had a fantastic mother’s day even taking the babies for a walk in their wagon with MK’s daughter who is going into kindergarten.( and who is very grown up ). I am so lucky and grateful to be able to “be in the moment” in almost everything I do. Worrying is wasted energy. Pining for the past doesn’ t work either.
    It so wise of all of you to realize that you need to enjoy every moment of your lives , because it does flash by. “Be here now” is the name of some guru’s book from the 70’s I think- Baba Ram Dass. . I don’t think we need to read the book. we already “get it”!!


  8. Marykate Wurster

      on May 15, 2012 7:18 am

    Joanne – I loved this. Smiling all the way through!!


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