I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how it is so easy to be busy, to get caught up in doing, that we forget how to be still for long enough to appreciate those rare memory-making moments in life. Those moments that are fleeting and precious. And sometimes, the most simple ones to find.
Giving yourself up to the moment
I’ve had a Moloko song stuck on repeat in my head for the last few weeks:
At first, I was just singing along to the melody. But the more it stuck in my head, the more I started to hear what the lyrics were telling me.
It’s hard to pause long enough to appreciate the moment
I don’t know about you but, at times, I find it hard to stop what I’m doing and let myself fully appreciate the moment.
It’s so easy to get frustrated with our kids for them not adhering to our precision-led timetables, the ones that help us manage our busy days. And this frustration can prevent us from sharing in their play.
Like that natural sense of wonder that I talked about in my last post, kids also have an amazing ability to find joy in any given situation. And they are truly generous in sharing that with us. We just don’t always find it convenient to accept that gift.
The busyness of doing
When it’s bedtime and you’re chasing them around the room begging them to get into their pajamas while they’re jumping around shrieking, escaping the crocodiles circling below…
Or they’re wanting to help you cook when all you want to do is get dinner on the table with a minimum of fuss, time, and mess…
When we don’t stop to look at that insect they’re pointing to on the pavement because we’re dragging them to that appointment and you’re late, again…
We try to power through those distractions, knowing that with added delays, there’ll be tantrums or a melt-down of some kind somewhere along the line (and that may just be from you!).
And then, at the end of a long day, one disaster after another, you finally scream STOP and put an end to their fun.
It’s often, just moments later, that I regret another lost chance. The chance, once again, to share in their joy.
I often realise in hindsight that it’s those moments, those breaks and delays in our daily routines, that sometimes lead to the sweetest and most lasting memories of childhood.
Making memories not deadlines
My husband is much better at that than I am. At stopping what he’s doing, just turning up the music and dancing with the kids.
I find that I’m always the one standing on the sidelines with my hands on my hips. The one reminding them that they’re going to be late for school, that they haven’t had a bath yet, that it’s way past bedtime.
Resentment sets in
I end up resenting the fact that I’m the only one that cares about those things. That I’m once again the party-pooper, that I spoiled the mood.
I’m often left feeling that it’s much easier for the parent that doesn’t have to do so much of the doing. The one that doesn’t have to cope the next day when the kids haven’t had enough sleep, or that doesn’t have to explain to the teacher why their child is late for school, again.
However, in spending so much effort and energy to be an efficient time-keeper, the parent who does the majority of the ‘technical stuff’, you inevitably have to be reminded to leave a little room for spontaneity. To drop your guard. To stop the clock.
Not every day can be about breaking routines and missing deadlines but without those special moments, life would be pretty boring.
The need to slow down a little
I’ve been thinking recently that perhaps we need to slow down a little. To try to pack a little less into some of our days.
That maybe, that way, we’d have a little more time to focus on that one activity and enjoy it in its entirety.
It’s all too easy to say “tomorrow”. I do that a lot. But sometimes, tomorrow doesn’t come, or maybe it gets forgotten. Sometimes it comes too late.
So, I’ve been making an effort recently to stop and say “yes” a bit more often.
To pause. To take a break and do that puzzle with my kids, or to join in that game, if only for a moment.
To try to take the time to be present, fully, and to listen to what my kids have to say. Amidst all that chatter, they share amazingly unique viewpoints and insights.
To be there, connected to them, not on my phone or laptop, or with them absorbed in the tv while I get stuff done…
To be there in the moment with them… Sharing in their joy.
I find that the more I do this, the more I want to join in with them and hear what they are saying. It brings me that bit closer to sharing in their sense of wonder and discovery.
Children teach us how to play
It is our children who teach us how to play, not the other way round.
But it is we who must demonstrate to them, by doing it ourselves, the need to listen, to share, and to participate.
In giving importance to those moments, we show them that they have value, that their voice is significant and should be heard. And it demonstrates to them just how important they are to us.
There will always be times when the washing up wins, or works needs to be prioritised. Times when I need time to myself, or to answer that phonecall from a friend. And that is okay.
Because I also know that, in middle of all that everyday stuff, I am going to try to remember to seek out those simple moments. And I know that I won’t regret it.
Give yourself unto the moment…
So, even if that Moloko song stuck on repeat in my head is starting to drive me a little bit mad, maybe I still need to hear it.
I need to let it remind me that next time the kids ask me to stop what I’m doing, I should give myself unto that fleeting moment.
That I need to make it last… Before it’s too late and is gone.