Mary Poppins & Anticipation vs. Presence

6 May

When I am looking forward to something, I find focusing on the present moment is a useful distraction.

“A watched pot never boils” the old saying goes. Years of cooking has taught me the simple truth to this saying, which is why now, I put the water on the stove and then go to cut up the vegetables.

This saying applies to so many things in my life with my child as well. I set the stage, gave him plenty of space and before I knew it, he was walking. Each night we read stories before bedtime and the next thing I know, the beauty of sleep has swept across his face.

In the first days and months, we wait, beg, plead for sleep to come to our infants. “Is he sleeping for you yet?” is a question I answered all throughout his first year.

It’s a question I asked myself in the wee hours when I was running on nothing but fumes. I will always remember the day I decided to take that bundle of anticipation, all that longing, and release it into an enjoyment of the present instead. For me, it came out in the form of song.

With all the rocking and pacing done, all the cooing worn out, dreary-eyed, I pleaded for the sweet relief of sleep for my beautiful baby and his exhausted mother. In a flash, I got the answer to that and so much more.

I might never sleep. It sounds like the ramblings of the delirious, but really, it’s the wisdom of the ages. Next, I was blessed with enlightenment. Surrender to the moment. Sure, sleep was my ultimate goal, but willing it to be wasn’t going to make it get here any faster and in fact, made the waiting for it excruciating. The anticipation made me excited for the outcome, impatient and irritated that it had not yet been achieved.

So much tension built up waiting for sleep, was making that one thing I wanted so much further away. So I soothed us with song. It came out haltingly at first, but over time found its way. At first I was surprised, I hadn’t heard, much less sung, any lullabies in over 20 years, so what came out was theme songs from television and movies.

Making an early debut was the slightly obnoxious Mary Poppins. What do you say when you can’t think of anything to say? Supercalifragilisticexbealidocious! Then came a Spoonful of Sugar and Do Ray Me Fa So La Te Do, with the former sticking around for quite some time.

Now, two years later, lullabies are plentiful, easily brought to mind and just as easily banished from overuse. Sleep, too visits us by way of a most predictable routine. Nowadays, the anticipation comes in the form of potty training, preschools and how much food will make it into that little tummy instead of pushed aside with rejecting eyes.

It’s easy to get caught up in plans for the future, pushing to scoot up a little closer to the next milestone, but focusing on the present has always helped to burst those glorious bubbles of anticipation and actually bring that water to a boil right when it’s supposed to.

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