We often hear the phrases “live in the now,” “be grateful for what you have, ” and my kids’ favorite “Y.O.L.O – you only live once.” I say these words to myself and my family often but am I living by them? Am I teaching my children this by showing them, by truly living in the present or am I carelessly throwing out the words hoping they catch on?
Contentment can be defined as a feeling of quiet happiness and satisfaction. Resting in who you are, who you have and what you have.
This past weekend, we decided to take an impromptu family outing to City Park. School let out early and the weather was perfect so what better way to kick off the weekend than to spend it relaxing at the park. As we packed up, I heard whining and complaining about going. One asked what we were going to do, another complained I’m tired, and my son saved the best for last stating that the park was boring. Here I am thinking my husband and I are being fun parents and giving them a fun afternoon at the park, yet apparently we were just torturing them.
They finally began to drag their feet to the car with their books, jump ropes and football in hand. They asked what will we do. Will we ride the train, rent the bikes, feed the ducks? I said no, we will do nothing. We will sit, enjoy each other and be CONTENT with the present moment. Of course I got eye rolls, but my plan worked. We did just that. We laid on the blankets, I made flower bracelets and wreaths out of weeds in the grass. They ran in circles and looked at the trees. They asked “is this what you did when you were a kid?” I said yes, we didn’t have iPads and activities planned every moment of our day. We made the best of each day. Now this, of course, isn’t entirely true but in that moment, I needed to teach them that. To be content with just being. To be happy with being together and satisfied with exactly where we were in that moment.
Thinking back on that moment, I felt the need to reflect on my thoughts and how I am living my life. Am I truly happy when a friend discovers she is pregnant knowing that part of my life is over? Do I feel joy for the friend who has a break through and discovers her path in life when mine still hazy? Do I truly support the friend who is successful in her business? In order to be the most supportive friend and to find joy in other people’s successes, we must be content in our own lives. We must be content to be happy. This doesn’t mean we don’t keep climbing mountains and reaching for new goals. It means we are content in our life as we follow our own path, even when it makes a left turn.
Finding contentment doesn’t come easy. I have been trying for the last four years to accept the fact that we are not growing our family any more. I am so happy with my three children and so blessed to have healthy amazing children and a husband who goes above and beyond for us. But for some reason, I cannot shake the feeling of wanting another child. I wonder if it’s a feeling that will ever go away. But I am trying to accept that we made a decision, and it was our decision so there is no turning back now. It’s a process and it can be painful and disappointing, but it is part of finding the way to contentment.
I am trying to look at the mother with her newborn with joy and not envy. And I turn to my daughters and son and as I watch them grow, I am joyful. I am grateful for the mother / daughter talks. I am grateful for the quiet moments with my son playing cars. And I am savoring the easy date nights with my husband.
I will feel excited for my successful friend and not envy. I will ask her for advice and see how I can apply it to my life. I will lead by example for my children. We will look forward to what’s coming next but not so much that we are not focusing on what is now.
There is no going back in life, there is only forward. Life may not look exactly the way we expected it to look, but it’s the life we created. The only way we will teach our children to be content and happy in the present is if we start with ourselves.