Presence: The Best Gift to Give

CELINA GRAY PRESENCEMy twins are about to be three. They are full of attitude and self-confidence, and at times in need of a little discipline. Their growth in the past couple of years is something I take so much pride in. It takes a lot to teach a toddler, to live and love, to be gracious and patient and encouraging (in a safe way) in all of their endless curiosities. As I write this, I wonder how we ever stray away from treating complete strangers like this. That is why I love to travel, meeting new people always gives me a chance to do this. Going to Puerto Rico and North Carolina, where the local cultures and norms are so different from my own, was so refreshing. So is coming home, to not only my kids but my “other half” as well.

I lead a life right now that is on the go, go, go! I apply for just about any scholarship that comes my way, which has been very fruitful lately! I take any travel opportunity I can (academic or not). I am the president of a campus science club, I have fellowship research to do, I have powwow regalia to be made/updated for myself and the kids, and I must manage to fit in school work. More often than not, daddy and mommy just don’t get alone time. He works and plays on a football team on the weekends. We try to do all the normal couple stuff—you know, like have a date night. When the kids are sleeping is usually the only time a break presents itself, and then we can’t even both leave the house! Let me tell you, it’s just in poor taste to constantly ask the same neighbor friend to watch the kids while you “do you.” We take turns complaining about who does or doesn’t do enough housework, or who is on their phone more often trying to keep up with friends who either live far away or have just as many family and school obligations as we do.

Social media is a great asset in this way. But often I find that even if I am updating social media my real milestones (or the kids’ for that matter), or what I’m up to on a regular and basis, are lost in the holes of the world-wide-web—especially for those I cherish but who are not geographically close, my mother included. I love just “forgetting” my phone in the living room while I run an errand or two (and by two, I mean ten). I can admit that I do not call my extended family enough, even my sisters and brothers just to check on how their day went. I strive for big picture social and environmental justice. But is it worth it if my partner, the father of my children, feels alone and locked in the jail that can be our own lonely minds? All the self-confidence and reassurance in the world, on his part, cannot replace my presence in the lives of people I have promised to love and support. I am sure he won’t mind me speaking for him like I am. I do feel racked with guilt on occasion, but aren’t these obstacles all part of being a mover and a shaker? Part of growing up I’d say, and both of us as mommy and daddy have grown up so much in the past three years. I guess I’m getting to my point here that by staying grounded I can grow, and by growing I am able to reinforce that stability.

Celina Gray is a working mother of twins and a student at Salish Kootenai College.

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