I like to think of myself as an intentional parent. My husband and I have sought to cultivate in our kids an awareness of larger issues in our culture and we have tried to talk about and act in accordance with the concerns that we see. Our hope is that our kids will approach life in a more nuanced way, that they will be Christians who question the status quo, who will be compassionate to those who struggle, and feel a sense of responsibility to contribute towards alleviating these issues.
But I’ve been realizing lately that for all of these good intentions there are some pretty significant areas that my intentionalities have not reached. I tend to be more of a ‘big picture’ person, and therefore my intentions have often gravitated in the aforementioned directions. What I tend to struggle with more is the stuff that makes up everyday life. The continual cycle of homework, food preparation, permission forms, work, tearful meltdowns, grocery shopping, temper tantrums, arguments, cleaning and everything else that makes up our days. So often, instead of being fully engaged in these activities, I find my attention wandering away from what is actually happening. Instead, I brood over events from the past week or month, or analyze possible outcomes of events to come. I often find myself thinking about the latest book or movie I am immersed in, or I feel the need to compulsively check Facebook, or follow up online a random idea or thought that has suddenly popped into my head. In the process, I tend to become distracted and disconnected from what is going on around me, whether that is the conversation my kids are trying to engage me in, or the dishes that are sitting in the sink. In sum, I often find myself just ‘getting through’, or ‘mentally escaping’ the nitty gritty realities of life.
So I’ve been thinking lately about what it would mean to be more intentional about my daily life. A lot of it boils down to being deliberately present. For me, this would mean some very tangible actions. It would mean making a point of catching up with my kids after our various activities of the day before checking my Facebook or email. It would mean starting to check off items on the lists I continually make of things I need to get to but don’t. It would mean consistently giving my full attention to my daughter’s lengthy account of whatever she is currently excited about rather than allowing my mind to wander to the latest book I am reading. It would mean deliberately living in the moment rather than the past or the future.
I suspect I will always struggle with focusing on the everyday realities of life. But I think that becoming aware of the importance of being intentional in the day to day and then taking steps in this direction is a start. And so I plan to take some time today to sit and listen to re-enactments of all the best scenes from Frozen (again) coupled with the reasons why it is the “best movie ever”. And I will do this intentionally.