By Rivka Perlman

August 14, 2012



We arrived at Patabsco River at 2:30 in the afternoon. The kids had been itching to go after being home all morning while I was out.

In under two minutes, the kids were in their bathing suits and swimming happily. I stood at the edge of the river, my eyes darting back and forth keeping track of the kids. I’d purposely left my phone in the car so that I would be really present. But  though the water tickled the tips of my toes, I felt my mind wound up in a million conversations of things undone.

I don’t know what shifted. Maybe the sound of the rushing rapids worked it’s magic on me but soon I was going deeper into the water. The little ones said, “Mommy, you’re coming in?”

Suddenly determined to shake off the last of the mind static, I grinned broadly, “Yeah!”

We spent the next hour playing in the rapids sliding up and down the rocks. Heaven! The pulsing water massaged our backs and the sounds washed away all thoughts but contentment.

This was actually about to be my new favorite place in the world – until I saw the sign that said NO SWIMMING. I hustled the kids out of the water (ok, fine, we did stay in another ten minutes) and we crawled onto the muddy river banks.

“Oh, feel this. This is so cool!” My ten year old shouted as he squished his feet into the think grey mud. This time I had no hesitation, I walked right over, squish! – into the mud.

We all gathered on the brown, wet banks, laughing as we tried to think of any imagery other then the obvious bathroom refrence that made us squeal. “Squashing grapes with our feet!” “Plowing the land of Israel!”

And then, from some crazy place I screamed “mudfight!” What started out mild ended up looking like a scene from a Slapstick movie or a picture of Woodstock. Literally yelling and laughing and sliding in the mud. Total madness! Total perfection. (and yes, I know how crazy this picture looks – the real thing was even crazier!)


Now, it’s a little while later, the kids have rinsed off and have pretty much exhausted themselves. And this whole time and even right this minute as I sit down at this picnic table writing on a piece of scrap paper, I’ve been blessing you.

Blessing you that you should experience moments of contentment, moments of being present; moments when you feel G-d stirring inside you as you see the grass and hear the wind.

Every time I go out into nature I’m amazed again. It boggles my mind that even when I go home this beauty will still be there. I just can’t comprehend it. How do I go about my daily life and not visit these moments more often?

I feel that way too when I take a walk. I feel the gift of my legs being able to move and the blessings of the scenery that I pass by and the love of G-d that’s in every breathe that I inhale.

When I left my phone behind I made a choice; a choice to be present. And I share here with you my triumph, because that’s not always the choice I make. That presence allowed me something so deep. It allowed me to fall back into my body. To connect my soul with the full experience of being alive.

What’s more fun; basking in the sun, letting your feet feel the cool of the water or answering emails? And for that matter, what’s more fun; doing dishes again or cozying up on the couch with sweet delicious children?

So why do we do it?  Like a woman just said to me; “It used to be you were talented if you could multitask, now you’re talented it you don’t.” It can be so hard to let go and enjoy that for me it took a trip to a river and buckets full of mud!

I believe that each of us are teachers. Among the thousands of things we have to offer the world, there are a few passions that flow from us and are shared by are being.

Growing up in a big family and having one of my own, thank G-d, I feel the  passion of this lesson burning deep inside of me. And not because I’m so great at it, but because I work on it, I struggle with it. Every day I work on being more present for my family. And not in an abstract sense. Being present means being physically present. Sitting with them , being home, visiting them in their bedrooms at night. (With my oldests being 16 and 15, sometimes very late at night!)

I can’t talk about it enough. The gift of life is ours for the taking. And there is nothing that will build your child in a way that your full attention will.

Do you want to contact Rivka Malka about coaching school?