Today is my son’s 10th birthday. As a parent, there are so many life lessons I want to share with him…from why morning breath isn’t “cool” to the importance of kindness. And I always hope that the good parts of what I say stick, and the less than ideal ones fall away.
But some lessons I aim to share with him are ones that I need to hear myself. Over and over again.
Though I’m told it’s typical behavior for a boy his age to need to be told everything at least three times, I really want him to be better connected to the world around him. For instance, after taking a trip dozens of times, the other day he asked, “Are we going the right way?” illustrating that he hadn’t been paying any attention. This is just a tiny example of how he is in his own little bubble that I would like to pop. Many times we have had “conversations” (read: nag-a-thons) of how he needs to pay attention to what’s going on around him.
But what about me?
Though I may know the route I’ve taken dozens of times, how connected am I to the actual moment I’m in? We who struggle with the juggle of life also struggle with the clichéd stopping and smelling of the roses.
Recently my husband discovered a robin’s nest in the pine tree right outside our kitchen window. After we all enjoyed seeing the beautiful blue eggs, the mama robin nestled in. She had expertly camouflaged the nest, and when she covered the eggs with her body, there was no way any of us would have known what miracles lurked beneath. I realized that it was the exact right perspective at the exact right time that clued us in to this exciting little world. My husband’s height gave him the angle to see, and the fact that the mom was out stretching her wings gave him the opportunity to discover. It came together in one ideal moment. Now we all know where to look and are enjoying watching our new little neighbors grow.
But what do I miss because I am not looking at the right angle at the right moment? I wonder.
Too often I have my “busy-busy blinders” on…on one mission after another, I power through and forge ahead. My bubble may move faster than my kid’s, but it’s still a bubble.
Thankfully, there are times of self-awareness where I simply make myself stop. Stop the swirl. And in those moments, inevitably I find something worth looking at…truly seeing. Maybe it’s enjoying my favorite goldfinches dart and weave after getting a nibble at our feeder…or maybe it’s seeing my son practice his piano with his bare feet (growing bigger by the day) keeping time while his tongue peeks out from his pink lips and tries to help him along.
The older he gets, the more I am trying to savor those moments. It was only yesterday, it seems, that he let go of my leg and walked his first steps. Only yesterday that he waved goodbye to us on his very first day of school. Only yesterday that he would pummel me with questions like, “Mom, does the sky end? Does the grass end? Do our days ever end?” Only yesterday.
As Gretchen Rubin says, “the days are long, but the years are short.” If I can get my little man to understand this sooner rather than later, then I will have helped him in a big way. I know I need to be a better model to help him see this truth more clearly. I better get my act together.
My stubborn self knows this is a life lesson I need to teach myself over and again. I guess the silver lining is that we learn best what we teach, so maybe there‘s hope for me yet.
Happy birthday to our beautiful, not-so-little-anymore boy who is loved tons and tons forever and always by his crazy mom and dad. You make the world a better place to be.