As a parent, I quickly learned that doing one thing at a time doesn’t cut it anymore. I am often juggling four things at any one moment–carrying five bags of groceries (it is against my nature to make multiple trips) while breaking up a fight between my oldest two children, watching for cars, and trying desperately not to spill my coffee or drop my baby. All the while there is the constant background brain chatter–“Did I take the load of laundry I ran four days ago out of the washer? Must remember to make dentist appointment.”
With all this multi-tasking and juggling and a to-do list that only gets longer, it can be hard to step back and appreciate the moments of amazing sweetness that occur. Oftentimes, I’m afraid I miss them. I’m making dinner or cleaning up spills or putting the baby to bed. Sometimes, I may even be physically present but I’m checking my phone or concentrating on my knitting or just otherwise mentally preoccupied. For the amount of time I spend with my children, I am ashamed at how little time I am actually completely present with them.
We are in birthday season in our household. Within five weeks, all of my children go up another finger in age. My baby is one now. My daughter three. And my son will be five in a few weeks (five!). They are still so young, of course, but they are not so young as they once were, and many stages are behind us. So I have been making an effort just to be with them more, really with them; to notice them; to appreciate them as they are now.
Some moments have stuck out more than others. My son, after smearing soap all over his face and getting some in his eyes, said between sobs “I was just trying to be funny. I didn’t know it would hurt!” My daughter, after having to go down for nap despite really not wanting to “I’m just feeling so sad right now.” My baby gleefully calling out “daaahg!” from the stroller upon seeing one, and then rolling the word around in his mouth for minutes after the animal was out of sight, never losing his delight. And my daughter, so sweetly putting her animals down for a nap–all on their tummies, with the biggest animal in the middle putting his arms around the other two.
These moments could easily get lost or forgotten. They are so small when compared to all the big stuff going on–birthdays and transitions and teeth and sickness and routine. But these moments are important too.They are the moments that make you look at these perfect, flawed little humans you’ve created, so full of anger and sadness, love and empathy, joy and knowledge. So apart from you and yet so fundamentally part of you, too. I’m glad I noticed them. I need to keep noticing them, even if it means I forget to change the laundry or make the dentist appointment. I’m okay with letting those balls drop every once in a while if that means a few more of these sweet moments don’t fall unnoticed.