I still find myself sometimes falling into the trap of thinking every moment needs to be accomplishing a goal or achieving something. In this mindset, I have a litany of “shoulds” running through my mind: I should be intentional with my time. I should either work and be productive or relax and have fun. I shouldn’t waste time. But, this line of thinking quickly causes me to strive for control. I start planning excessively and rush from one activity to the next, never being fully present in any of them.
The kids and I got home about a half hour ago. Sienna spent the day at The Cambridge School Summer Academy and Mateo was at baseball camp. I’d promised Sienna we could look at Halloween costumes when we got home. She has her heart set on being Anakin Skywalker and has been researching costumes for several days. As we came in the house, I agreed that we could look at costumes first, but there were many things we needed to get done – homework and bathing being of most importance.
I sat down at my computer, expecting the kids to start asking about the costumes. But, they didn’t. They went to Teo’s room and began collecting stuffed animals. I didn’t know what they were doing but whenever they start playing something imaginative together, I never interrupt their flow. So, what to do next? My mind starting bouncing around to various ideas – should I get some more work done? Sit and read for a few minutes? Pick up around the house and start on the evening chores? I ended up making a decision without making a decision. I started reviewing and replying to several work emails.
The kids were playing in the living room, just a few feet away. I suddenly heard something fall to the ground. Teo called out, “I’ll pick it up, Sienna!” To which she replied, “Thank you, Teo.” I smiled at their sweet, polite exchange as I turned around to see what they were doing. They’d created an animal hospital, bandaging up their stuffed animals. (Note the animals’ bandages in the photos!) Each injury or medical condition had an involved back story.
Taking in the moment, I thought: “Stop, take this in. This is your life.” These are the moments that I would have missed, or worse, would have stopped, when I lived inside my head; when my To Do list demanded all my attention.
I’ve been thinking a lot about growth lately. As the kids get ready to start a new school in the fall (more about that later!), I’ve been recognizing how much of their learning and growth happens at home. This is where they learn how to treat other people, how to express their needs and wants, how to forgive, and how to receive grace. Hearing Mateo’s offer to help, and Sienna’s loving appreciation, I was struck by how everyday moments between family members are so valuable. These moments don’t have to be planned or structured, they just happen. But, in those moments, we shape the culture of our family. We shape the worldview of our children.
Now, this was a sweet moment, but there are just as many challenging ones in a family! When a child is frustrated about not getting what they want. When a parent sets a limit that the child doesn’t like. When we simply all have different ideas of what we want to do in that moment. So much good comes from these moments of grace, growth, and learning.
I’m letting go of trying to figure out exactly what our afternoon and evening should entail. I’ll say a prayer that our family time would be blessed today. Then, I’ll pay attention to whatever these moments have to teach me.