In hindsight, we all have defining moments in our lives that changed, molded
and shaped us. Either we were changed against our will, improved after
careful planning or shaped through serendipity.
Before this experience, I considered myself a pretty good parent to our
two young boys. But I was a worrier. I wanted to parent by intuition,
but ended up second-guessing myself. I was missing confidence, inner-peace
and trust. Trust in myself and in a higher power. But mindful parenting
eventually made me a better mother.
My defining moment came when I was at my life’s lowest and most vulnerable
state. As a mother, I feared facing the potentially greatest loss a parent
may suffer. The days ahead had been marred by the unknown, my faith was
being tested and it truly felt like my heart had been ripped from my chest.
Our second son, only 12 days old was sicker than sick. His condition had
deteriorated over the past 24 hours to the point where the most hopeful
words spoken by medical professionals were: “We have ordered the
helicopter for your son’s immediate transfer to another medical
facility that is better equipped to handle such a complex case.”
There I stood, holding vigil over our infant son. He was hooked up to IVs,
a respirator, monitors and countless medical devices that beeped and alarmed
in an ear-shattering symphony. My husband was en route with a haphazardly
packed suitcase and my breast pump.
(In hindsight, never tell a stressed-out husband to “pack me comfortable
clothes” because you will be stuck in a hospital room 2 hours away
from home wearing lavender flannel pajamas - when you are not even the patient.)
I saw the hospital Chaplain walk by our room. I immediately said a quiet
prayer for the family in such dire shape that his presence was warranted.
Mere moments passed before I hear a quiet and respectful knock on our
door. It was the Chaplain. Our situation was the dire one. He had come
to pray over our son before our flight.
My heart sank. The enormity of the situation instantly took my breath away.
Father Mike stood next to me as we bowed our heads in unison. We didn’t
take our eyes off my infant boy in the baby warmer. With a clear and calm
voice he said “be where you are.”
I looked up at Father Mike, hoping for clarification. He repeated himself:
“be where you are” and then went on to explain his surprisingly
simple message. His words are clearly etched in my memory as if I spoke
with him yesterday, when in fact it was 8 years ago.
He accurately predicted that the next couple of days, weeks, even months
would be some of the hardest in our lives. He urged me to be fully present
in every moment – “be where you are” – and to
trust that I was right where I was supposed to be, all the time.
“Be fully engaged in your oldest child, when you are at home with
him. Play with him, interact and give him your undivided attention. Trust
that your baby is well cared for at the hospital, so you can be a wonderful
mother to your oldest son.
When you are with your baby in the hospital be present there, pay attention
to your surroundings, changes in him and be mindful of his needs. You
can do this knowing that your oldest son is safe in his loving home.”
Father Mike’s words stuck with me. I made a decision to follow his
advice and be present in every moment, however scary and frightening it would be.
“Be where you are” became my mantra, the words that comforted
me during our darkest hours. The four words kept me centered during our
son’s six weeks in the PICU. I sat by his bedside and watched helplessly
as he struggled to fight for what I promised him would be a beautiful life.
Father Mike’s simple message was my anchor, when I felt capsized
in an ocean full of heartbreak and uncertainty. Thanks to his wisdom,
I had the clarity and strength to make our baby a big promise that we
fulfill every day, because our life IS beautiful.
Our son fought every challenge thrown at him - and won. He is now a spirited
8 year old with an older brother and two younger brothers. That’s
right, four boys under the age of 10!
MINDFUL PARENTING MADE ME A BETTER MOTHER
Our four little blessings challenge our patience and sanity daily with
their energy, wit and spunk. When parenting gets hard and motherhood weighs
heavily on my shoulders, I remember Father Mike’s words: “be
where you are!”
On days when the kids are melting down and fighting as siblings do, I remind
myself to be present in the moment. These times, however crazy they make
me, however tired and frazzled I may feel, they are not to be wished away
– and I certainly should not be dreaming of a quiet beach on a remote
island, because I am right where I am supposed to be.
Wouldn’t you know it, when I pull myself back from my daydream and
focus on separating the two little boys that are stuck together like pieces
of LEGO, the fighting stops. The tantrums, the meltdowns, the yelling,
the arguing – they all come to a halt!
When I live by the words “be where you are,” the boys realize
that I SEE them, like REALLY SEE them. They know that I hear their rapid-fire
questions, funny stories from school and awkward jokes.
I am no longer distracted by my own wandering thoughts, flashy iPhone or
luring social media notifications – I am fully present, engaged,
and focused on them.
Father Mike’s advice got me through the worst of times. His guiding
words led me through the muddiest waters to the other side, where our
family is flourishing with renewed focus and resolve.
When you feel torn between friends, when the work/ life balance is out
of whack, when you are annoyed that everything happens on “their
time” and you long for some “me time” – take a
step back and tell yourself to “be where you are!”
Trust me – it works.
*To learn more about the contributing author, Tove Maren, please visit
Mama In The Now.