This morning I made it a point to get up early to do my mindfulness/meditation practice. And boy, howdy, was I glad I did. Our morning was filled with doors slamming, lots of screaming, and general unpleasantness. I have no idea what it was that set the kids off, but whatever it was set them off good and proper. When they finally got dressed, breakfast evolved into an epic struggle. And don't even talk to me about getting shoes and backpacks on.
Fast forward to us struggling to get out the door, as I wondered what the neighbors were thinking as they heard the inarticulate screams of children as I tossed backpacks into the back of the car. Then the long, tense drive to school, made all the more fun by getting stuck behind a garbage truck for two blocks with no opportunity to pass. And of course the joy of trying to find parking when you're already late out the door. (It was around this time the centered feeling from my morning meditation evaporated completely.)
So there we are, the three of us, parked a good four or five blocks from school, rushing to be on time. Check that; there were three of us, but only ONE of us was actually rushing to be on time. I was clearly the only person with that agenda. While the screaming had stopped, I had one actively resisting me as I tried to coax him to walk a little faster and the other in her own world as she dawdled and danced along the sidewalk.
Adjacent to the school is a park. It's your typical California park, with big open grassy areas that have hosts of dandelions, especially this time of year. As I'm practically hauling my son down the sidewalk I look back to see my daughter stooping to pick one.
"Come ON!" I called back. "As much as I love that you want to stop and pick flowers, NOW IS NOT THE TIME!" She looked up from her flower and came over, doing her best imitation of hurrying. I continued poking and prodding the last block to school, and got them through the door just this side of tardy. Backpacks and lunches were quickly stowed and I bent to give hurried kisses and hugs before running off to work.
"Mommy! Wait!" my daughter yelled just as I had turned to leave. I turned back to her, irritation and stress etched across my face and body. "Take care of this. There are fairies on it," she declared in a firm voice. And she handed me her precious dandelion.
I blinked, then took it gently, saying, "I will." She nodded, satisfied, before going into her class. I stood for a moment, looking down at my gift. There had been a heavy fog that morning, and the dew coated everything. The soft feathers of the dandelion were filled with tiny diamonds of water, reflecting the weak morning light.
I found my breath again. I rediscovered that centered feeling, and on the walk back to the car I was able to notice the way the dew turned a spider web into a work of art. I noticed how the yellow of young dandelions contrasted with the deep green of the grass. I noticed how ghosts of fog danced along the tops of cars in the strengthening sunshine and disappeared into its rays. I felt my breath and how it was part of the foggy air, and remembered what childhood is all about.
As parents, we spend a great deal of time thinking about what we can give our children. Today I was reminded that they give us just as much.
My challenge to you is this: Seek out those gifts from your child. They may come at unexpected times (in fact, that's usually when the come!). But when the gift is offered, be sure to reach out and take it. Because those unforeseen faires can turn the most difficult moments into magical ones.
Telling Your Brain the Truth (or, I Guess They DO Listen!)