Parenting While Present

Parenting—it's no walk in the park. But sometimes we find a refreshed sense of purpose and engagement with our children in those mundane, park-walk moments.

lexmomot/Dollar Photo Club

It was Veteran’s Day, and I was off from work and home with both of my young children. I did what any sane parent of young kids does when home alone—take them to a park before the parental meltdown begins. As other cabin-feverish parents and their kids milled about, I sat on a see-saw with my four year old daughter across from me, me lightly bouncing us, but my heart not in it.

My five-month-old son, Theo, sat, still strapped into his stroller next to me and watched as I tapped out an email to my co-author on a new book project we’d begun. A book about mindfulness of all things. As my kids watched me quietly, my focus had gone down the two by four inch rabbit hole of my Iphone’s screen.

A tap to my shoulder from behind brought me to attention, and I turned to see an elderly Asian woman smiling at me. She pointed at Theo and made a cradling gesture with her arms. She said something in what sounded like Chinese, though her continued caress of the invisible baby in her arms underscored how she knew I didn’t understand.

I assumed she wanted to hold…