How and when in the now: learning to live in the moment

Guest post by HiLLjO

Photo by john.schultz, used under Creative Commons license.
I strive to live in the moment. My partner is a great inspiration to me on this; he does a great job of it. Shawn rarely loses sight of what is True and he never takes the rising sun for granted. It’s amazing and if it’s corny, so be it but this is something I am trying to learn from him. I’ll admit it: I am a planner.

I need to have all my bearings gathered with at least an outline of things to come. The reality of the plans can change and the outline never amended thereafter, but I have to start with an idea. When it comes to having babies, it seems to me that at least a little bit of preliminary planning is as somatic a response as involuntary as picking up something you dropped… but maybe that’s just my conditioned mind.

Over the last four years Shawn and I have discussed babies like there was no question they’d be around in our futures. At first we used individualized phrases like “When I have a kid…” and then as time went by the conversations have woven in on themselves with the words “our babies.” After our wedding some life situations like health issues and a death came up, our priorities shifted, and the planned window of time for having “our babies” moved up. We started thinking we’d try to conceive in the late Fall of 2012. And now it has, at last, become a real fleshy possibility.

This shadow of possibility scares me shitless like nothing before. It scares me so much that from time to time (until a few days after Christmas) I was doing polarized flip-flops on whether I wanted to have kids at all. Finally in the last few days of December I exploded. After putting my hyper pug in her crate before she broke something, every one of my thoughts and feelings about mommyhood from the last six months compounded and rose up in my throat. The tears burned so as to tell me that this baby thing was not for me. I couldn’t even calm down a puppy, how could I ever pacify a wailing baby? I would epitomise inadequacy in the mothering world. I had fully decided for the last time that I did NOT want children and I had to tell my partner when he got home.

I told him with finality that this is who I am, and if he wanted children I’m laying out the situation on the table. He was really upset. We cried. He asked why and I told him everything about how I’d been feeling and the things that had been running through my head. And then he did what he does best by reminding me of what is true: he is my partner. And we are going to make mistakes, everyone makes mistakes. Planning can make you feel better now but no amount of plans can predict every situation, and you’re bound to fuck up here and there. The best thing we can do is to live now; try to be the kind of people we want to be everyday; and to thus prepare OURSELVES for being the kind of parents we want our children to have. This diminished my fear.

And then he shared his thoughts on how we will conceive, “I just thought we’d just kind of be in the middle of making love and decide right there if it’s a time to try, and continue accordingly…”

Sounds good, babe. Sounds really good.

Comments on How and when in the now: learning to live in the moment

  1. Right there with you on the planning thing. It is so hard. My pregnancy was a surprise one and it rocked my world so hard that my son is 7 months old and I am still feeling the after-effects of my turned-upside-down world. My husband is much more laid back about everything.

    Here’s the good news: even though being a mom has really changed my world, I LOVE IT. It really is totally worth it and having my son is great. Good luck with your journey!

    • I think one of the things that scared me was that I was making having children such a “THING.”
      It’s just like you said: it changes you but it’s just a new facet of life that you LOOOVE!

  2. I am like you — a total planner. And your husband’s attitude scares the pants off of me.


    In the past couple years of my life, I have been blessed to make friends with a few intense non-planners, who enjoy the moment and fly by the seat of their pants. And while I’m not sure I could marry one and live day to day with them, I love their attitude and the joy they derive from life and it makes me feel comforted to see that such people not only survive but thrive. Better than I, often. It’s reassuring.

    • I like your parallel to living LIFE now vs. living and planning BABY now. It’s not just like this with babies; it’s like this everyday. It’s refreshing and balancing to have Shawn as my partner… and sometimes scary like-oh-noes-my-chair-is-falling-backwards!

  3. I am totally the same with being a planner, I’m always focusing on the future and don’t live in the now. Trying to concieve has been so hard for me as I started off with the wrong uber controlling plan everything attitude, and thought is been really clever when we got pregnant first time, them five days after I miscarried and since its been really hard twinge to come to terms with the fact I can’t plan this, I’ve just got to let it be and wait and see what happens. We are on out sixth cycle trying and trying so hard not to think about it and plan my hypothetical pregnancy and think when my scans would be and how it would effect my work (I’m a teacher) but its so hard, and has been one of the most difficult things I’ve gone through.

    My advice to any planner would be to just have unprotected sex whenever you want and give yourself a year and wait and see what happens.

    • I felt like I could have written this comment it hits so close to home for me. I miscarried my first pregnancy and we’ve been struggling to get pregnant again. Suddenly my perfect little plan has gone to shit and it really stresses me out. I wasn’t SUPPOSED to have a hard time conceiving and yet here I am. It makes me cry even writing about it.

      • I was pretty much in this position a year ago… I had planned out exactly when we would get pregnant, wanted to have a baby at the beginning of the summer (because I’m a teacher) after moving to our new apt, etc. etc. We got pregnant on our first cycle trying, which was earlier than I expected but great! I was thrilled about our April baby. And then I miscarried, and I realized that getting the timing perfect wasn’t really in my control. (In fact, I tried for that perfect June baby timing after getting my first cycle back after the miscarriage, but I was so stressed out by the process that I decided to take a few months off, perfect timing be damned. So glad I did that!)

        Now I’m cuddling my little October baby girl in my arms and she’s perfect, and the imperfect timing was perfect too. October was one of the “worst” possible months to give birth, I thought (start of the year with SO long before summer vacation!), but it has actually worked out better than a summer baby would have– this way I didn’t have time to worry too much about working from home with a baby, I just did it. My miscarriage was really a blessing because it freed me from so much planning and perfection and helped me just be grateful for the beautiful life I have.

        Good luck to you all!!

  4. It feels so nice to not be alone in the over-planning psyche!
    Shawn’s attitude scares me sometimes… in a good way… like a roller coaster scares you.
    We discussed doing a 1-year Marriage Anniversary Review to see where we’re at debt-wise and discuss maybe trying after that! Thank you all for your support and for sharing your experiences.

  5. Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. I am also a Planner Who Overplans, and I’m in the of-course-I-want-kids-HOLY-SHIT-NOT-PREPARED-I-COULD-NEVER-DO-THIS phase.

    It’s nice to know I’m not alone, even if I am crazy.

  6. I went through my own process of hemming and hawing and planning and reading books about it and blah blah. I eventually realized that no one has a really good reason to have a kid. It’s just something we’re driven to do (or not). Being mindful is the only real answer.
    “Planning can make you feel better now but no amount of plans can predict every situation” Yes! Planning well is more like establishing a considered intention, and making room for whatever actually happens. If y’all do end up with kids some day, they’ll be better off for you having had this epiphany, just as we’re all better off for having read about it 🙂

    • He is great; he always can help me to re-center myself with one sentence.
      Thank you for reading (and the compliment!)!

      PS: Love your ‘y’all.’ I’m not even Southern and I use it sometimes too!

  7. You’re attitude is healthy and common in my experience. Most people are worried about what kind of parent they’ll be. The very fact that you’re concerned will actually help you out in the long run. Parents spend a lot of time asking themselves “Is this (still) Working?” And you will be open to help and good advice from other people you trust.

    And I am here to say everything does not change! My husband and I are still crazy in love and enjoy our little home. My pets are still wild and woolly snuggle beasts. I still have a job I adore and amazing friends. While many little things did change the solid gold aspects of my life stayed the same. That first year is tricky but fortunately since you’re a planner you figure out how to have it all!

    • Thank you for this statement! You’re so right; I was making having kids such a “THING” before this conversation. It helped me realize that it’s the same… but not. But different! lol. it makes sense in my head!

  8. One of the hardest parts of pregnancy was trying to adjust to the idea that I was no longer in full control of my body. When I was exhausted I HAD to lie down, when I was hungry I HAD to eat, when I felt like a certain food was revolting it was a really, really bad idea to try and make myself eat it anyway… I felt like I couldn’t plan anything, from spending time with friends to what I would want for dinner that night. And now as the parent of a three week old… I gotta say, 9 months of adjusting to the idea that I wasn’t in charge any more was pretty good parenting prep.

    I also think that at least some of the pre-pregnancy planning I did was a huge help. Certainly any financial planning you can do can make a big difference. I also tried to just gather as much information as possible, trying not to rely on things going a certain way, but hopefully just knowing what my options might be so if my first choice plan didn’t work, I wouldn’t be lost. I don’t know if it really helped, but it made me feel better. 🙂

    • I’m getting better at doing what I have to do for myself, but I think having a baby will leave me no choice but to do it all the time, to my delight.
      Thanks for sharing; I will keep researching!

  9. This is interesting to me, because, well, I am also a planner. And my husband is NOT. But because (for religious reasons) I don’t believe in artifical contraception and I was totally too disorganized to use Natural Family Planning of any sort . . . this was completely taken out of my hands. And I’m glad. I’m glad that it happened so quickly (I’m at 30 weeks) and that I didn’t have to think too hard about it, because if I did — I would certainly have driven myself CRAZY.

    And, strangely, while I still have moments of panic (life is going to completely and drastically change and it will never be the same again and I don’t know where we’re going to live or if/where I’m going to work, and on and on . . . ), being pregnant actually makes me really be present in the now. . . I’m unusually focused on myself, how I’m feeling, whatever acrobatics are going on in there, and just have to put work aside to lie down because I needed to.

  10. I just wanted you to know that in spite of all the discussions between me and my husband, in spite of all our planning, when I got pregnant, I was scared. As my due date got closer, it was strange because I wanted to have the baby, but I was also terrified to have the baby. I had never wanted something so much but also not wanted it at the same time. When I went into labor, I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for the time to come to actually go to the hospital and have the baby, but when the time actually did come, I burst into tears because I was so scared. I had no idea what it would be like, if I could manage it, how it would change things, etc. Eight months later, I can tell you that it is wonderful. It’s a huge change and a lot of work, but my baby is the best thing I’ve ever done. I look at her and laugh sometimes, thinking about how I was so scared of her. How could I have been so scared of her?!

  11. I felt the same way. I couldn’t keep dogs from peeing on the rugs, what would I do with a kid? Several family tragedies later, and a whirlwind Labor Day date later, and we decided to get pregnant. Good thing we did, too, because it happened immediately. Like, discussing it at dinner over a steak and good beer and making out in the rain for desert kind of immediately. It took a lot, but we adore our son. So much different than taking care of puppies! Remember, puppies will never wake up one day and tell you they love you.

    But whatever you choose, it sounds wonderful to have your partner support you.

  12. If anyone can shake you out of Super Planner mode, it’s your kid. If anyone can teach you it’s impossible to appreciate every single moment, it’s your kid! Seriously, if you are willing to sit back and enjoy the ride a little, being a parent is an opportunity for tremendous personal growth, no matter what your personality. There is nothing wrong with taking this decision seriously, but don’t let fear make your life choices for you. Good luck!

  13. I’m a huge planner and my daughter is now 4. I can’t tell you how much it has helped me to have her around to show me the utter joy of living in the moment. There is NOTHING like spending an afternoon giggling with your baby, while the hours slip away, to show you how much wonderfulness we sometimes miss from planning everything to the utmost. I still enjoy planning and am still a big planny person, but I have also learned how to find joy and release in those moments I never could have planned.

  14. I am a huge planner. I love lists and I even get sort of a ‘high’ when I’m making a real good list, one that I know I’ll be checking off…one that will take some time or be really fun to accomplish. Anyway, I wanted 5 kids, no joke. I got pregnant and had my beautiful son last June. He was born very ill and with so many complications (VCFS, tetrology of Fallot, large platelets, lowered immune system, one kidney). I was still planning on more eventually but all of a sudden I asked myself if just my little dude was going to be it…and it freaks me out because in my head it’s like I have to decide as soon as possible if I want to change my mind…like I need to make a new list, a new plan and start living that one instead of the old one. We are allowed to change our minds, as many times as we want!

    • I have decided the very best ‘plans’ for me involve one specific starting point and an open-ended jumping point. This harmonizes with my partner, too.
      As in, Our birth plan is to start with no meds in a birthing tub, and to get the baby out any way necessary after that.
      I agree; we can change our minds in light of our lives, choices, and children as much as we want!

  15. I enjoyed reading this soooo much! I’m half-way through 32 and have suddenly realized that I’ve spent a lot of my life looking forward to what’s ahead that a lot of amazing things passed and will never be experienced again. This realization has caused a tiny bit of emotional nostalgia to creep into my attitude. I’ll look back through my iPhoto files and notice that even in the midst of amazing things (like ziplining through a jungle in Mauritius, or volunteering in an orphanage in India) I was already planning for what I’d do when I got home. Now, I WISH I could go back and live those moments again, really LIVE them and not just passively go through my own life.

    Thanks to your post, I’m going to start a mindfulness journal and really spend time in the minutes of today. I’m too extravagant with my future; I spend this life carte blanche, as though time is endless and I’ll have plenty of time for everything.

    Secondly, after reading through the replies, I’ve got something exciting to look forward to with parenting: having someone else who dictates the schedule. I’m a planner too, and some times I really wish I could be released from the burden I place on myself. I LOVE when my beloved plans dinner, or our weekend social engagements, because it frees me to just DO. I can’t wait for a child to entangle her needs with mine, and force me to just go with what comes.

    • I wouldn’t be too hard on yourself for not being fully “present” while ziplining or any other fun adventures that you’ve had. One thing I anticipate once we have children, having considered it for 5 months now, is being whisked up in the hubub of life and the schedule the child dictates. We are human, and even if we don’t take a mental snapshot part of living is just doing things without a second thought. Really let yourself get entangled with life now without thinking, too. It’s liberating to just let it happen like you have.

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