living in the moment

The To-Do List

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Claire: “Papi you wanna play wit me?”

Me: “Not right now baby. We have to go to the grocery store, Costco, get gas, and pick up     mommy’s medicine. Not to mention finish the laundry.”

Claire: “Just 2 minutes Papi?”

Me: “Maybe later. If we have time.”
I find that the above interaction with my daughter is becoming more than just an occasional exchange. One day its groceries, another is picking up my gun from the gunsmith, another day it’s a Home Depot trip for lumber and a saw blade. There is always something going on that needs doing. Our family is busy, but so is every other family. As I re-read the conversation above it makes me angry, angry that I would dare say to my daughter that I don’t have 2 minutes for her. I spend more time updating my calorie counter app.

Claire turns 3 on Easter Sunday and I am finding that my little girl is growing up too fast. In the whirlwind of our busy lives there is this glorious gift we call Claire that repeatedly calls me to step outside of the business. To be childlike and enjoy these precious moments that are so quickly passing us by.

“2 minutes Papi.” But there is so much to do. “2 minutes papi.” I haven’t made dinner yet. “2 minutes papi.” I’m too tired baby. “2 minutes papi.” Baby, it has to get done.

It does have to get done. I am tired. Dinner needs to be made. There is so much to do. But my daughter is growing so fast…

I find that days go by and items are checked off my to-do list, yet the reason why I do those things (my family) seems to get the back burner. The to-do list gets things done so that my family is happier, yet it is keeping me from experiencing that happiness with them. The moments when I am playing with Claire I find that in the back of my mind the to-do list pops its head in, telling me there are things that need to be done for the family.

I don’t know if anyone else feels this way.

Maybe I’m ridiculous in my expectations. Maybe this is the way it is and I have to deal with it. Yet, Claire’s voice calls out to me. To enjoy the moments while they are still available.

“2 minutes Papi”.

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Categories: being too busy, blessings, Catholic, distractions, enjoying the moment, fatherhood, fathers, growing up, home and family, living in the moment, Parenting, time management, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Awe, Wonder & Fear: Vacuuming at our Home.

Photo Jun 13, 6 08 29 PM

The vacuum cleaner starts and Claire goes on alert. Claire stands by watching to see where I am going to go next. There is healthy mix of fear, excitement, and wonder as the vacuum zooms by. As I pass Claire retreats with a concerned look and then closes in behind me to see the vacuum at a safe distance. There’s a little smile as she peaks around the corner of the room.

I love seeing my daughter’s reaction to scary things. The awe, wonder and fear that she experiences keeps her on her toes, but it doesn’t keep her away. Every time I watch this Claire vs. vacuum interaction I can’t help but wonder what’s going on in her mind. “Is it a monster? A beast that dad somehow has tamed? Both?”

It is inspiring.

Most of the time when I encounter something that is frightening I am not chasing after it and certainly I’m not in awe or wonder of it. I think many of us react this way. There is a level of practicality that makes us turn away from situations filled with fear and risk. Yet, I cant help but think how much more fun and unpredictable life would be if we chased after the “vacuum cleaners” in our lives. Would we discover that there really isn’t anything to fear after all? Would we see past the fear and find something better, something worth chasing?

At two years old there is still a lot of world to see and it can be scary. When Claire finds something that she hasn’t encountered before she pauses. I am reminded to pause as well and experience this new encounter with her. What I find in these moments is a new respect for life and recognition that things and people can be scary, but that there is a potential for something beyond fear.

Claire pauses as a frog passes by. She isn’t sure what to do. It jumps and she hides behind me. The frog continues to jump and Claire walks in front of me and begins to jump with the frog. I pause and look around. People stare. I begin to jump after Claire.

Categories: discovering, enjoying the moment, fatherhood, fear, fear of household items, fully alive, living in the moment, new things | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

6 Ways My Daughter Challenges Me

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My daughter is two years old and she has challenged me more so than many other humans on the planet. At least it feels that way. Here are six ways that my daughter challenges me on a daily basis:

1. Going Outside: I love the outdoors. Somehow in the last few years I have found myself staying indoors even when it’s gorgeous out. Maybe its because I’m tired from working, chores, etc. Maybe its because we have cable and all those DIY shows are so interesting. Whatever the case may be my daughter has no desire to follow daddy in this respect. Claire demands to be let out into the wilderness of our suburban .35 acres. I am falling in love with the outdoors once again.

2. Patience: Lets face it; we can all use more patience. I thought I was patient and then my daughter turned two. Claire is on 100% of the time and she has no desire to slow down or wait for me to catch up. Whether it’s her need for food every 30 minutes, or her ADD style of play I am constantly being pushed to grow in my patience.

3. Letting go: I am supper anal when it comes to order in our home. I want things put away immediately once they are no longer being used. Taking my time with chores, projects, etc. does not compute in my brain. I like to tackle things right away and be done with it. This is not possible in the toddler world. Claire is messy and she is unapologetic about it. My daughter’s creativity and toys are not limited to her bedroom or the living room for that matter and I realize more and more that this is ok…I think.

4. Being fearless: I am always amazed at how little fear my daughter has. Whether it’s diving off some platform at the park or saying, “hello” to the person in front of us at the grocery store she does things that many would never venture to do. I can’t tell you of how many great conversations I have had with strangers because my daughter was willing to engage them.

5. Being Healthier: I use to be in pretty decent shape. I got married and somehow the gym became a place I frequented less and less. Work and family life got more complicated and Chick-fil-a and Chinese food became a quick fix. My daughter helps me to realize that I need to be in good shape in order to run and play with her. Quick, unhealthy meals don’t help me and they definitely don’t set an example for my daughter. I want to live a long time and eating healthy is one way of achieving that.

6. Enjoying Moments: When I am patient with my daughter and I let go off my anal tendencies of order and control I find that I have a space to enjoy the moment at hand. My favorite moments with my daughter are the ones where we simply sit and do nothing. Moments where time seems to stand still and we are simply being father and daughter. This is one of the best things my daughter is doing to challenge me to be a better person.

 

Categories: fatherhood, healthy living, kids challenging parents, living in the moment, Parenting, toddlers | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fragile

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Recently at my church a young pregnant woman passed away. I won’t say how or names in order to keep their personal information private. I did not know this woman or her family, but they are a part of my faith family so it hurts all the same. My wife and I have been praying for them as have hundreds of others. I can’t help but keep thinking of the husband and what is now before him in raising the kids while dealing with the loss of his wife and unborn daughter.

In a moment life ended…

It stopped…

Gone…

When I was growing up I went to a rough school and kids died due to violence there, and in that area. I have experience death before but never as a father. Fatherhood adds a whole other dimension to death. The solidarity that I am experiencing with this families pain is tangible, and I don’t even know them. I think of the husband and my stomach gets tight and I feel sorrow. I keep thinking about how fragile life is. Sacred Scripture says our lives are like a vapor: here for a while and then gone.

I take so much for granted! Why? I do not know. Especially since life is a vapor. As the news of this families struggle has been shared via our Church family I have been holding on to my wife and daughter a little longer and a little tighter. Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. Today—now is all we have. Yet I take it for granted. We all do. Then death comes and reminds us. Someone else’s tragedy speaks to us and we come out of our delirium and appreciate what we have a little more.

But how long until that fades? How long till we go back to taking for granted?

A vapor. Here one moment and gone the next.

Categories: complacency, death, enjoying the moment, fatherhood, fully alive, living, living in the moment, Suffering | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Switching Car Seats

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Claire had her first Thanksgiving this year and she got to meet some family members she hadn’t met before. Claire had some other firsts besides Thanksgiving and family:

  • She started waving her hands to say hi and bye and if you listen carefully enough you can hear her say, “hi”.
  • She is able to sit up in the grocery store cart without any support.
  • She is sounding off what sounds like “mama” and “papa.”

A couple of days ago we had to switch out Claire’s car seats from our vehicles. Claire is getting bigger and bigger every day. I remember putting her into her infant car seat when we left the hospital and I can’t believe she is too big for it now. Parents, friends and acquaintances all say the same thing, “they grow up so fast.” It really is true.

I don’t know if it is her learning to wave, sort-of-talking or changing out the car seat that has saddened me (or a the combination of the three), but the reality that my baby will not be a baby much longer is hard to accept. Claire isn’t going to college anytime soon, but it feels like she has taken a step closer towards that end of the spectrum.

I’m trying to maximize my time with her at this stage of life because it’s going to fly by. I guess that sounds weird since I should be maximizing my time with her in all her stages of life. However, this baby stage is so unique and it stinks that it is flying by so fast.

One of the benefits of this nostalgia is realizing how privileged I am to have this precious time with my daughter. Tomorrow is not promised to me, or to you, and so I must seize the moments or lose them forever. The last two weeks I have found myself playing with Claire and spending more quality time with her. I’m not going to lie, there are days when I cant wait for her to go to bed so I can get things done or just have a break. Somehow, switching car seats has changed that mind set. I’m finding myself waking up in the morning with a desire to be with my daughter and on returning home wanting nothing more than to have her in my arms.

Man…what a crazy, emotional ride! I can’t imagine how I’m going to feel when we switch out her current seat for the booster seat.

Categories: enjoying the moment, fatherhood, fathers, home and family, living in the moment, Parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Now: the duty of the moment.

now_watchRight now you are reading this blog that I wrote a few days ago. Right now you are processing this sentence. That moment has passed and you are now left with this moment. Have you ever realized that ‘now’ is all we really have? The past is gone; the future is ahead of us. All we have is this moment. Now.

I don’t know about you but I find myself thinking a lot about the things I did in the past. “I shouldn’t have said that”, “I wish I had done that differently”, “I really should have…” I also tend to think about all that I have to do, the things to come. “I have to get that talk put together by next Saturday”, “I really need to clean the gutters”, etc. Yet the past is gone and I can’t go back to it, and the future is ahead of me and I can’t get to it. Once the future is here—now—will I be looking ahead to other future events or will I contemplate on it as a past event?

Catherine de Hueck Doherty was a very wise and holy woman who had a phrase that has always stuck with me: The duty of the moment. Catherine referred to the duty of the moment as the now that we must focus on and give 100% of ourselves to. The now that is our duty and all that we have in that moment.

This is a quote from a talk she gave to a Catholic group on the matter,

“The duty of the moment is what you should be doing at any given time, in whatever place God has put you. If you have a child, your duty of the moment may be to change a dirty diaper. So you do it. But you don’t just change that diaper, you change it to the best of your ability, with great love for both God and that child…There are all kinds of good Catholic things you can do, but whatever they are, you have to realize that there is always the duty of the moment to be done. And it must be done, because the duty of the moment is the duty of God.”

We cannot forget the past because it is ours, but we cannot live in it. We cannot ignore the future because it potentially will be ours to live in, but it isn’t here yet. Now is all that we have. This moment. What ever lies before you right now is your “duty of the moment”.  It is the thing that you should give all of your energy, love and focus to. It is the thing that you have been tasked with and should be your priority.

The now that I have with my family is more important than the past or the future because the now is real, is here, it is tangible and in front of me.

May we all focus on the “duty of the moment.” May we all be present to our families, today, now.

Categories: enjoying the moment, fatherhood, fathers, focus, living in the moment, Parenting, time management, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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