07/14/2012 12:37 EDT | Updated 09/13/2012 05:12 EDT

Dispatches From Down East: Living "In the Moment" Tuckered Me Out

A dear stay-at-home mama friend of mine recently reflected on the idea of being "present." She addressed the fact that she is with her children daily, but she is not always present with them. Which got me thinking: am I present and in the moment with our children? And if so, is that really necessary? To be present in every moment?

In order to find out, I challenged myself to be present all day, as a sort of experiment. And in that day, I would be utterly aware of my children and their importance to me. In even a greater way, I challenged myself to be more aware of everything going on around me. So as to be present in this day and all its moments. To be in the moment, each moment. And in so doing, I would know whether or not there is validity in being such and if it is a worthwhile task.

I'm always up for a challenge.

And so, I tried to be very present even as the sun came up. I was present when I woke up to the chortle of nearby campers enjoying their breakfast and having a jolly good time about it all. I rolled over and tried to go back to sleep, but who wants to sleep through a party? So I dragged my haggard self out of bed and tried to sneak out the side door without starting my own party here in our little still-sleeping haven of rest inside the tent-trailer.

I was present during my shower in the communal bathroom on the campground, particularly when I forgot my shampoo. Thank heavens for that sample I swiped from the hotel during March break that I found tucked inside my make-up bag. I was again present when I returned to our camper and my daughter was hopping around in desperation/fear she would again pee her pants because I was her one pass to the washroom, and she had to wait my return from the shower so as to GO. Present when I dropped the coffee grounds all over the camper floor. Present again, when I zipped up my favourite Jacob top in my suitcase zipper, and even more present when I had to borrow scissors from a fellow camper to cut it out of the zipper. I was P.R.E.S.E.N.T. In the moment, baby.

Still not convinced of the validity of being present, I pressed on.

I was present throughout mid-morning activities. Present when I found an earwig floating in my dishwater and then when the fridge leaked water all over the camper floor. Present when a prospective buyer showed up to look at our camper this morning just after breakfast before I had a chance to clean and de-clutter, and again present when my daughter had a meltdown because she was hungry and a roll would not appease, coincidentally timed at just the moment this same family were traipsing through our dirty, unclean camper (leaving me no choice but to confine my daughter to her car seat in our van, with me keeping guard in the driver's side until the showing was over); present when thunder clouds rolled in right at dinner time forcing us, who are picnic-ers by force, to come sheepishly to my parent's door, food and laundry in hand. I was present even then.

Again, present when the kids were fighting intermittently throughout the day, when the rush for supper was in full swing and we were rushing, rushing, rushing (so that we might not miss our evening's entertainment). When Gatorade spilled and kiddos were not hungry, and present still when we made a mad dash to the movie theatre: sweaty, tired and unkempt, brushing hair even in the parking lot. Only to find out that we still had another 20 minutes until the movie would begin to play.

I was present at the theatres when we played musical chairs, when popcorn spilled, when Little Ones thought the movie was too scary, and then again when everyone had different ideas about which store in which to shop in after the show ended. Present when we arrived back "home" to our camper, and as we were pulling in to the campground, present when Youngest issued disparaging remarks to Oldest, upon which Oldest proceeded to lecture his father on how lax we are in disciplining the Youngest. Thus, putting a damper on an otherwise pleasant evening.

And I am currently present, in this moment, as the present slips into the past. Whilst Youngest cries and sobs for water at one hour to midnight and while Older Ones complain about her crying. Oh, I am present. And then some. Contemplating going it solo in the backseat of the van, which I believe could sleep one ornery mama quite nicely, but still holding on to the present indeed.

And I have come to this conclusion: I think being present in all these moments has just about killed me. I'm not that strong. And I just want to be detached in a few of them. Rather, a lot of them. So, here I sit, even whilst the youngest cries and screams, and her dad is forced to get up out of bed and deal with her and the other members of the Fearless Foursome.

And I meanwhile will continue to tap, tap, tap the keys of this laptop while balancing it on my lap as I sit on the edge of a lumpy camper mattress. Only 10 feet away from my over-tired and crying child. And I must say, I have reached a verdict. I am no longer in the moment. Rather, I am feeling very detached and working on being oblivious to all the chaos going on around me. And it is a very good place to be.

If for only but this moment.