Live in the present moment…be one with yourself and your surroundings.  Enjoy every day as though it was your last. Carpe diem!!  I am sure whoever offered this advice had terrific intentions and I am all for it, but seriously, do people really live in the moment??

I remember the first time this advice was given to me, or at least the first time I acknowledged it.  I was sitting in a group counseling class in graduate school and the professor was lecturing on how important it is to be in the present moment when listening to the client in order to take in and process what they are saying. It makes perfect sense.  Zoning out to make my mental grocery list while pretending to listen to someone’s list of anxieties, does not help me to help them.  However, we are human and those lists have to be made sometime.

But realistically, even when I am present while listening to and counseling others, I am still tapping into my previous resources, knowledge base and identifying feelings I can relate to from the past, just to make sure I can acknowledge what is happening to them in the present. We use the past to learn and to teach in the present.  It’s just the way it is.

Although a challenge, living in the moment is my personal goal as a parent…and one that I achieve more than just a few moments a year.  And when I do experience these moments, I love them.  Absolutely, positively LOVE them! I remember them vividly, the picture of where I was, what I was feeling, the internal bliss.  It’s wonderful.  And then it becomes a memory…one I strive to relive again, which is the opposite of living in the moment.

I want to be present, and I strive to be present, but I also work outside the home full time and have children with full time appetites, full time school commitments, part time extracurricular activities and an active social life, all of which require planning…or living in the future.  This is the challenge I have with living in the present moment.  If I lived in the present moment as often is suggested, my children wouldn’t regularly have clean clothes to wear or food to eat without going to the grocery store daily or a week’s worth of essential items needed away from home when on vacation.  It would be a nightmare.

I admit that personally, I’m just not good at living in the moment.  But when I do, I have impassioned feelings of gratitude and a genuine appreciation of my children.  I see them for who they really are and realize just how much I like them.  When I stop what I’m focusing on and snuggle with my son, I listen to his effervescent take on the world and soak up his positive and exuberant energy.  When I ask my daughter a question about something that has been bothering her and truly listen to what she says, I notice just how grown up she’s become and am amazed with her personal insights.  During these moments, it feels like I am just opening my eyes and seeing my life for what it really is…a moment by moment gift.

This is precisely why I continue to want to hold on to the moments, to experience them fully and enjoy them.  They are priceless and rare for today’s hectic child rearing schedule, even with the best intentions.  Mastering the delicate balance between living fully in the present moment and warding off chaos by having a plan to keep daily life running smoothly is a continuous aspiration.  But one worth striving for…always.