Growing up, my dad was notorious for reversing the car before my brother and I were completely inside. I can’t even count how many times he had started to reverse the car while my feet were still on the ground outside.
And I remember as a teenager, when my dad would ask me if I was ready to leave the house for an outing, I’d tell him I needed a few more minutes. Moments later I would hear the car engine start to rumble. I’d begrudgingly whisper something along the lines of, “Can’t you just wait until I’m ready?!”
Now don’t get me wrong, my dad is great. But he is almost always trying to get somewhere as fast as humanly possible.
Now as a grown woman, I despise being rushed. My brother hates it even more than I do. And after moving out of my parents’ house eight years ago, I never really gave it much thought until my oldest child became a toddler.
My son, Mikey, is a stop-and-smell-the-roses kind of kid. He has wonderful attention to detail and he notices all the things that everyone else overlooks. Like the baby gecko on the screen door, how the moon is out earlier than usual, and the bunny shaped clouds.
A few weeks ago, we walked into Target to go grocery shopping. As we made our way towards the grocery section we walked by a display of candles. Upon seeing them, Mikey happily ran over and began to sniff each and every candle, at his leisurely pace. As I felt his little sister, Mia, start to squirm in the baby-carrier on my chest, I felt the urge to say, “Okay honey, let’s go.” But I didn’t.
I thought to myself, “Let him enjoy this.” This is one of the highlights of going to the store for him. Exploring and experiencing something new. I realized then, that my urge to rush him probably came from my dad rushing me as a kid. We were on a mission to get groceries, yes, but it’s okay to deviate from the agenda for a couple minutes to enjoy other things along the way.
I refuse to live a distracted life, led by my schedule and checking errands off my to-do list. Even when I have the best intentions at heart: to supply our home with food and make sure we make it on time to the doctors appointment. The problem is not that we have to get things done, it’s the impatience we have when our kids take interest in the things around them on our way there.
And as cliche as it sounds, it’s true that life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey. And all those little moments, they make up our life.
I want my son to relish these moments of his childhood, where he doesn’t have a care in the world except for what’s happening right now. Whether it be picking flowers on our walks, putting each shoe on the wrong foot until he gets it right, and helping me crack and mix the eggs for breakfast (even when he stirs them really slowly).
I am committed to silencing the to-do list mama in my head and instead, fully enjoy witnessing the curiosity and wonder in his facial expressions and the comments made in his small, sweet voice as he notices and experiences the world around him. Because this world is still new to him, and one of the greatest gifts of motherhood is being able to see the world through my kids’ eyes.
Something I will always remember is that when we go outside to play on sunny days, Mikey will almost always stretch his arms out wide, face to the sky with his golden curls glistening down his back, and exclaim with sheer delight how much he loves the sun on his face. It’s one of the sweetest displays of happiness I’ve ever seen.
Mikey’s genuine joy for the little things in life is one of the many things I love about him. He is so precious, and I never want him to lose that zest for life because he’s too busy thinking of what we have to do next.
So whenever I feel the urge to stay the course and remind him that we’re going to be late, I silence my mind. There is enough time to get what I need to get done while also allowing my kids to enjoy themselves in the wonderful way that they do.
Every day I work at immersing myself in the present moment, absorbing all the goodness that it has to offer. Because there is an abundance of goodness and magic in even the most mundane of moments.
The to-do list and the schedule can wait, but this moment right now is fleeting, and there is no good reason to rush our kids through their childhood.
It’s so important to stop and smell the roses. And the candles too.