The one you are with

“The most important one is always the one you are with.” I bought Jon Muth’s children’s book The Three Questions (based on the story of the same name by Leo Tolstoy) before I even had kids. In it, a kiddo and his animal friends try to answer the questions: When is the best time to do things? Who is the most important one? What is the right thing to do? It struck me then and it strikes me now that these really are among the very most important questions in the world, and most other questions are ultimately variations on these. The answer to who is the most important one is the one that echoes in my head the most often. When I feel the pull of my phone and all the internet has to offer, I try to fight the urge to check out by remembering these words. Some days with my kiddos when I especially want to zone out, “The one you are with” becomes a sort of chant and a soundtrack to my day, driving me to be more like the person I want to be. What strategies do you use to stay present? ⁣

The most important one is always the one you are with

Published by Emily P.G. Erickson

Emily P.G. Erickson is a writer with a master's degree in psychology. Her helpful, science-backed journalism and essays about mental health, mindfulness, and motherhood have appeared in The New York Times, WIRED, Romper, Elemental, and elsewhere. You can find the latest from Emily at

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