I’ll Be Right Back: The Promise I Stopped Making

I'll be right back

I'll be right back

I don’t do Hot Yoga, but as I’m racing out of Tom Thumb, which happens to be located under a Yoga Studio, you might mistake me for one of the women leaving their yoga class. Just imagine that the baby tucked under my arm is actually a yoga mat. And when you hear me saying, “Shhhh!!!” to the screaming baby, just pretend like I’m practicing some form of mindful exhaling. Oh, and forget that I’m practically hidden behind a grocery cart as it bumps and screeches ungracefully over cracks in the concrete. Yep, with a little imagination, you could definitely confuse me for one of the Hot Yoga women. After all, I’m every bit as sweaty as they are.

In all seriousness, deep down inside, I’m a Hot Yoga type of girl. Never mind that I don’t really like Yoga, or being hot. In theory, I love that Yoga involves connecting the spiritual and the physical. It grounds you in the moment. It traps you, both body and soul, into a single room for a period of time, inviting you to “just be.”

Seeing as I won’t be able to join a Yoga class until my youngest monkey is in some kind of school, I wonder if somehow my life could reflect my closeted feelings of being an in-the-moment, in-tune-with-my-spirit, life-is-simple type of woman. 

Dare I call myself a minimalist without being hypocritical?

My house might pass a minimalism test. I’ve arranged the house in a simple way, leaving some walls uncovered and the shelves uncluttered. Toys the kids don’t play with are moved to the garage or donated, and I try to limit books and other space-takers to include only my favorites. Almost nothing in our home is just decoration or simply something to occupy space. The Bible on the coffee table is meant to be read and the piano by the living room window, to be played. I want my house to reflect the concept that life is meaningful, and that meaningful things are few, simple, and unhurried.

I’m doing okay with keeping things few and simple; it’s the “unhurried” part that fails me, or that I fail. After all, I have three young kids, two barking dogs, and a household to run. Even when my surroundings stop spinning like a whirlwind (read: getting everyone fed, dressed, and situated in the morning), my brain continues to spin. Hurried describes me, inside and out.

So what if my house looks Zen? Who cares if I’ve got a cozy throw blanket calling me to sit and relax, or candles in earthy tones, asking to be lit when evening falls — and to perhaps burn while my family enjoys dinner together? Who cares if I have the set up, if I never stay still long enough to notice, much less answer, the call of the quiet things.

“I’ll be right back,” I tell my kids all the time, whether I’m at the dinner table or in the family room, all because I hear the chime of a text or an e-mail or a news story. Alerts, our smart phones call them. You have a new e-mail! You have a new message! Alerts, as if they must be attended to. There are already so many real alerts to answer, like the beeping of the oven that dinner is ready, or the cry of my baby from his crib. Why do I have to jump up for every single thing that comes my way?   

Every time I’m piecing together a puzzle with my two-year-old in the quiet of the playroom, I get an alert from my smart-phone, or even an alert from my own mind. I should get up and go brew another cup of coffee! I should go fill out registration forms! I should hop up and run the dishes! I should text the sitter and ask about that date in September! Every time I answer those alerts, I have to say to my kids, “Mommy will be right back!”

If you’re always leaving what you’re doing, promising you’ll come right back, then you’re never really “there,” are you? And in this day and age where practically everything everywhere is begging for your attention, think of the positive message you’re sending your children when you sit still beside them, showing them that the world can wait.

Next time I get an alert that’s not really important, I’m going to wait a little longer before I acknowledge it. I won’t ignore it altogether; I’ll just wait an extra minute or two. Or three. Baby steps! And then, with just a little imagination, I might see that the four walls of the playroom really aren’t so different from the ones they have at Hot Yoga… and that wherever I am, especially if my children are present, I can be present, too. 

About the Author

Susan Sides Phillips is a mother of three, writer, and minimalist at heart. Her fiction and essays have been accepted by publications such as Brain, Child and The Packingtown Review. She lives in Dallas, Texas. You can follow her on her blog or Twitter.

6 comments

  1. So true. This is me all the time. I'm glad I'm not alone. I like your line, "If you’re always leaving what you’re doing, promising you’ll come right back, then you’re never really “there,” are you? " I'm right there with you. We need to stay focused and be present for our kids! Thanks for the reminder.
      1. Agree with Angela's comment and it's so funny because that same exact line resonated with me too. What's worked for our family is putting my phone on silent so I don't distracted by all of the notifications. I even remember spending an afternoon just turning off ALL of the notifications on my phone because it can just be too much sometimes.
        1. Thanks for joining the conversation, Stephanie. I read a book called Hands Free Mama (or Hands Free Mother, not sure) and the author tried having "hands free" hours of the day, etc. I'd recommend the book although for some reason I think it made me feel a little sadder/guiltier than necessary - the author seemed pretty hard on herself.

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About The Author Susan Sides Phillips

Susan Sides Phillips is a mother of three, writer, and minimalist at heart. Her fiction and essays have been accepted by publications such as Brain, Child and The Packingtown Review. She lives in Dallas, Texas. You can follow her on her blog or Twitter.