Having a baby has been eye-opening in many ways. The revelation I have enjoyed the most is the fact that Clara focuses me to live in the present, every moment of every day.
For much of my life, I was a big reminisce-er, obsessed with re-living the past. Then around high school, college, and beyond, I became fascinated with my future. "What will I do next year?" And those of you that know me, know that after college I never did the same job or lived in the same place for more than a year at a time. I was terrible at focusing on where I was and what I was doing at any given moment.
I know I'm not alone with this. Many, many people have mentioned that they, too, have trouble living in the present. This focus we have on the past or the future serves to enhance the fundamental discontent that we have as a culture. And this fundamental discontent encourages us to chase after things that don't matter: entertainment, materialism, etc.
When I hang out with Clara, I appreciate her for who she is--not she adorable preschooler she may be in a few years or the sweet, 6-lb rag doll she used to be--but the 18 pounds of squirmy 7-month-old that she is right now. She and I communicate fairly well, despite the fact that she can't talk. She's Clara. She can't talk. That's just part of who she is. This will all change in a few months, so I appreciate who she is right now.
Furthermore, she doesn't concern herself about what happened last week (or even an hour ago) or what will happen this evening. She is always fully absorbed in her surroundings or her wants or needs as they happen. When she's tired, she lets me know that she's tired NOW!
By focusing on who she is now, I'm more in tune with where I am and what I'm doing. Sure, I wouldn't mind having a job and being a bit more independent. But this stage isn't forever, so I'll appreciate it for as long as it lasts. At other points in my life, I've spent periods of time (usually a day at most) focused 100% on being fully aware of the present. Those days were some of the most peaceful moments I've experienced. Now, thanks to my dramatically slower lifestyle (due to staying at home with the child), I experience this peace a lot more often. Originally, I was a bit afraid that staying at home would be mind-numbingly boring. While it hasn't been among the most stimulating of experiences, it certainly is one of the most peaceful. I believe that is because I've been more focused on living in the present that ever before.
This connection between living in the present and being at peace is not coincidental. One of my favorite names for God (and, I believe the only name He gave Himself) is I AM. Not I was, or I will be, but I AM. So if God is the God of the present moment, clearly that's where I should be living, too. In this land of the mindful present, life is good.