It’s no big secret that mindfulness and meditation can have us be more present. However, could it actually be lifesaving?
As I was thinking about how often (or not) I was truly present with my child, I was suddenly struck by a huge, emotional memory from my child’s past.
This is my most powerful (and dramatic) example of how critical being present is when raising a kid that has stuck with me my whole life. I still can’t quite explain this one…
When my kid was just a baby, he was not walking yet, so he must have been about 6 months old, he had a cold. Thick green rails of snot came down his face for days. I kept blowing his nose, using that little sucking bulb thing, and the snot just kept coming. His fever wasn’t off the charts and he was a little more tired than normal; however, I was at my wit’s end as a new mom trying to figure out what to do. Was this serious? Was it just a normal cold?
Finally, exasperated with not knowing, I sat my baby upright on the couch and sat across from him. I intentionally got very present and asked him, “what do I do?”
It was then that this 6 month old child, who had no ability to use language yet, in a voice loud and clear, I mean as clearly as I have ever heard anybody say anything, said to me without words, “You need to do something NOW!”
Without hesitating or even putting shoes on, I picked him up and put him in his carseat and drove him to the doctor. The doctor said I had a choice – it was probably just strep and I could take him home and try antibiotics or I could take him to the hospital.
In this incredibly present state, the answer was totally clear. “Call up the hospital now and tell them I’m bringing him in,” I said.
I was completely new to the city and yet, in this uber present, altered state of mind, I was able to perfectly navigate a complex twisting of freeways and streets. I did this without GPS, at a high speed (the person in the car with me was terrified), and found my way directly to the hospital.
Still with no shoes on, I raced my child into the hospital room. After just a few minutes of testing, they called in the doctor and whisked him off to another room.
It turns out my child had meningitis in his bloodstream that was heading towards the brain.
The nurse said that if I had waited even two hours more, his brain would have begun to fry.
Although this is a dramatic example, it seems like when we are present to our kids, often the answer of what to do next comes naturally and yes, at times this can be life saving. However, it doesn’t always have to be dramatic. It could be as simple as knowing when our child needs a hug and when they need to be given space to work it out on their own.
Since then, I have taken being present and trusting my gut pretty seriously and have also considered it the most important thing I can teach my kid as well.
For a Buddhist approach on being present and kids click below: