There's a difference between simply hearing your children's laughter, and letting that laughter impact you.
I know that I am 'in the moment' or present (which means there aren't a hundred things running through my head like; to do lists, loads of laundry to fold, kids schedules and weekly menus rambling around my thoughts) when I hear my children - and then I smile.
As the mother of two, two very different children, our world is busy - just like yours.
My husband commented the other day that our children are really growing up. Now that we are looking at an 8th and 10th birthday coming up, they really aren't little anymore. I don't say that with sadness, more with disbelief. There are two little people in our home.
These two young people have their own opinions, their own interests, their own needs and their own growing hopes and worries.
As parents, my husband and I are fortunate that our schedules have given us the flexibility over the years to allow us both to be around more than apart during the younger years of our family.
A long awaited career shift for me has renewed my sense of purpose as a mother, and provided me with the time to reflect on our children. It has also forced me to reflect on my role as a mother, and how I am a mother.
Hectic morning routines have been replaced by me being the last one out of my pj's while preparing lunches and listening to the conversations of an almost 8 and 10 year old in my home. They are sharing stories from their classrooms, they are challenging each other to math questions (a 'game' that has existed in my family since our children could count the fingers on their hands) and they are switching from giggling to arguing faster than I can keep up.
I work hard not to always jump in with my two cents, but rather just to listen, and smile.
When I feel that smile creep across my face, I know that I am present in that moment and enjoying their dynamic. I've released the need to control their interaction, and I'm allowing them to build their own.
As a registered social worker and practicing Child & Family Therapist, I often speak of mindfulness and being present, calm and attuned to your children, your emotions and your 'self.' It's one thing to talk about it, and quite another for me to put it into practice.
I never thought the chaos of my children, would help me see & feel what it is to be present.
Being mindful is to be fully present; in what you are doing, in who you are spending time with, in receiving the sounds around you and the sights that cross your path.
There are moments when the noises coming from upstairs cause me to call out, "enough you two!" There are also moments which even warrant an intervention and I am the next person upstairs to debrief or referee.
However, I am finding that there are more often moments when I find myself folding laundry and just listening, washing the dishes and grinning because of the giggles echoing through our home, or catching my husband's eye and both of us smiling because of the conversation topic between our two 'little ones' who are growing up.
Experiencing your children growing up can weigh on your heart if you get caught up in missing the past, the baby stage, the cuddles and the cuteness. Or, watching your children grow up can warm your heart as your daughter sings along to the radio with you and your son shows you how to use your own phone/computer/television.
Looking at your children from a place of awe & gratitude, with a smile on your face, anchors you in your present moment. There will always be laundry to fold, dishes to wash and meals to plan but if you allow yourself to be impacted by the sounds in your home, those moments aren't lost.
An unlikely source of mindfulness; two busy, loud, energetic and growing children. Yet, with the right lens, they help me find my calm and grateful place as their mom.