Sometimes (or probably most of the time) it is so easy to live in a mindset of productivity and efficiency being the be all, end all of life — especially when you’re a parent. Saving time and completing tasks in an efficient manner gives us a sense of accomplishment and self worth because (while life can be complete chaos), we’re still getting stuff done. And that’s what the American Dream is all about, right? Sad, but true!
So, what happens when you choose saving time over a special moment? Fixer Upper star Joanna Gaines would tell you that you’ll regret it.
Gaines wrote about a moment of true reflection and learning in her life in a note from the Magnolia Journal. She explained that she became caught in the decision to get her kids home for bedtime and enjoying a special moment with her dad.
Gaines explained that her youngest child was only a year old at the time and if she adhered to his sleep schedule, he was a happier, easier kid. It also made Gaines feel like a better and more successful mom if she could keep the family’s routine on track. While spending time with family at her parents’ house, though, she noticed that she’d lost track of time.
“ ... when I noticed that it was already half an hour past Crew’s bedtime, the stress started to creep in,” she wrote. “I hollered at the kids that it was time to start loading up just as my dad asked me to stay and watch the sunset with him. It was a summer night, so by 8 p.m. it probably would have meant staying another 15 minutes to catch the last of the daylight.”
She chose bedtime over the moment with her dad.
“It didn’t take me long to regret that moment. My dad is the most understanding person when it comes to my family’s time. An invitation to stay and watch the sun disappear with him was a special request. I realized I’d held a meaningful moment hostage in the name of efficiency,” she wrote.
The decision truly weighed on Gaines, who vowed to her husband Chip that she would make it back to her parents’ house to watch that sunset with her dad — but then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and months went by before she got another opportunity to spend a special moment with her dad.
“Finally, this past fall, I called my dad one day after work and asked him to meet me in his backyard. And this time, as evening dimmed, instead of watching the clock, I watched the sun fall lower and lower until it hovered just above the horizon,” she wrote.
“Dad and I talked, mostly about the ordinary—the kids, work, the house—but the fact that I’d made it back to this place, that I’d been given a chance to reclaim a moment I’d so freely given away, was extraordinary.”
It was in that moment of finally getting to see the sunset with her dad that Gaines decided she would no longer measure her life by the tasks she completed, but by love and sharing meaningful moments with the people who mean the most to her.
“For so long I’d chased efficiency for fear of misplacing my time. Yet as we stood there, eyes fixed on the sherbet-color sky, I wondered how many other moments just like this I had misplaced instead,” she reflected. “That evening was a turning point for me. No longer would I measure my life based on what I achieved in a week, a day, or an hour. Now, it is time spent in moments like the one I shared with my dad that I hope define my lifetime.”
It’s a hard but beautiful lesson to learn.