My 7-year-old gave me a heartbreaking wake-up call some time back.
I had told her, “I’m sorry we had a rough day. I don’t like having to get on to you all the time. But even though it was rough, I still love you.”
And she said…
“Sometimes it just doesn’t feel that way.”
It makes me realize that I have got to stop being so impatient to get through every day. I need to be kinder and less critical and more THERE for them. Life has made me so rushed and distracted that I feel I don’t have time to be nice, and that’s just crazy and stupid.
So soon, they will both be gone and I will no longer be a part of their lives…I will not lose these days to regret through a mad dash to some undefined and probably nonexistent finish line. I will treasure each moment with them and act in such a way that they will be able to treasure each moment also. After all, there are only so many moments in a life.
One night she wanted me to read to her; the deal is, she has to be asleep by 8:30. So if she wants me to read to her, she has to be in bed by no later than 8. Then I will lie down with her and read to her for a while, then hold her while she goes to sleep.
This particular night, I had a ton of stuff to get done and was impatient for her to go to sleep so I could get started. She asked me to read to her and I told her, “No, it’s 8:15. You know the rule; if you aren’t in bed by 8, I can’t read to you. You wanted to watch (whatever it was), and so you didn’t get in bed by 8. You need to understand that you only have so much time in a day, and you have to think about how you are going to spend it. Make it count. Figure out what is most important to you and do that first.”
The point at which the italics start in the above paragraph is the point at which I started hearing my own words as though they were being reflected back at me through a megaphone. I was talking to myself, I realized.
No matter what I had to accomplish that night, no matter how many things “needed” to be done, none of them – not one! – was more important than spending a few minutes reading to my daughter and cuddling her. But it took that moment, that soul-feeding moment (see The Simple and the Profound, below) to make me realize it.
Needless to say, I stayed and read to her. No more running for the goal line. The journey itself is the prize, and the moments along the way, when treasured, bear a distinct air of the divine.