What matters most

My life moves at a mile a minute and over the last few weeks between trips and conferences and commitments –  to my family, my editors and  the school –  I’ve been moving even faster. There are stories to write and lunches to make and meals are slurped and stuffed in while I’m throwing laundry in or taking dishes out of machines all around the house.

It’s busy.

It’s life.

I’m not complaining. I recognize how lucky I am to have what I have and to do what I do but it’s also tiring and stressful and it can wear you down.

Today it got  worse, but then it got better.

Let me explain.

While I was checking Twitter and email on my iPhone while on a break at a school conference on bullying  my phone rang and the name of my child’s school flashed across the front.

My heart flew into my throat and the whole world stopped.  I took a deep breath and answered.

My youngest had fallen at school and hit his head. Turns out he was fine and back in class and able to recite his  ABC’s but the school’s policy is to let you know. I’m glad – both that he’s okay and that he goes to a school that is smart enough to realize I should be told right away -but it made me think:

What if he wasn’t? What if in that instant something terrible had happened and he had needed me at his side right now?

All of the things that seem like they have to be done  now and not a minute later would’ve fallen to the wayside instantly. Meetings would have been rescheduled and obligations would have been dropped without apology.

“So why,” I asked myself, “are they SO important when he’s well?”

Later, on my way inside the house, I saw this:

red tree

No big deal right? Just a tree changing colors like it has every autumn… except I missed it.

The last I recall that tree was bright green. I pass it everyday and yet somehow didn’t notice that it was changing.

How is that possible?

And then it dawned on me: It’s not just the tree.

Moments in our lives are just as fast and fleeting. You can look at your child one day and realize they’re taller, have deeper voices, don’t need you quite as much. In my life it has always been the moments that create memories: funny words my kids have said, the sound of their giggles the way they snuggle in for a hug.

I won’t be able to catch them all. No one can.

But I want to catch as many as I can and that means I’ll have to try to be more present in the moments that we’re together.

And so this afternoon, I’m rethinking my list, pushing some things aside and curling up on the couch with my boys.

Hope you can find time to do the same.

Moments matter most.

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{ 9 comments… add one }

Danielle October 21, 2010, 3:44 PM

You are so right. I notice myself getting busier with x y and z, and starting to notice so much time has gone by. I Need to learn to slow down and pay attention to small things. Problem is sometimes, how to let go of things that are occupying all your time. It’s not always easy.

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Jodi October 21, 2010, 3:47 PM

Great post. At this exact moment, I needed a reminder to be more present in my life. Thanks.

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Denise October 21, 2010, 5:17 PM

yes, yes, and YES. I often find, when I’m rushing my kids from one thing to the next (finish washing your hands already! stop telling me about what happened on the bus and just do it and then do your homework and then we have piano/soccer/religion and then dinner/bath/bed so just DO YOUR DANG HOMEWORK ALREADY), that the moments that mean anything at all are swallowed up by my time-panicked frustration. So today I slowed down and looked at my first grader’s phonics homework and we had a good laugh over the sick pig (short “i” sounds). Why is the pig so sick? Where did he get those crazy pajamas? These are the moments, and they’ll be gone before we know it.

Also, Heather, I don’t know what it’s like in Canada, but around here the trees do seriously change colors virtually overnight, so forgive yourself on that one!

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Wandering Carol October 21, 2010, 7:05 PM

Heather, that’s a beautiful post – and here you didn’t think you were the ‘soulful’ writer.

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Heather October 21, 2010, 8:08 PM

Thanks for the comments ladies.

Danielle: I hear you. Know what I did? Walked away. Literally. It was only for a few hours and there were moments when I caught myself moving back towards the office out of habit but I managed and it only made me more resolved to do better.

Jodi: Glad you got it. I need the reminders too.

Denise: That’s what kills me! As soon as you slow you see the value in it, right? So why is it so hard to do it all the time. Trying to be better. And sadly, the kids confirm tree’s been red for awhile.:(

Carol: :)Thanks

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Meagan @ The Happiest Mom October 21, 2010, 8:24 PM

Heather, I can so relate. Some days I feel like I’m running around from morning to night, irritated at every disruption because it’s interrupting me getting to whatever it is I think I NEED to be doing right now. But every now and then I find myself thinking….okay, wait…is there really anything THAT important on my to-do list today? Usually the answer is no. Sure, I have things that have to get done, but my life isn’t such an emergency that I can’t take a few seconds to really look at my kids or the time to listen to what they have to say. I just need to remind myself of that more often.

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Heather October 21, 2010, 9:10 PM

What is it about that “my life is an emergency!” thing that takes over? Is it just us ladies who do it to ourselves? Is it wrapped up in self-esteem issues? A need to prove we are busy? Food for thought. Thanks Meagan

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Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments October 17, 2012, 2:32 PM

Heather – I couldn’t agree more! Thank you for the reminder.

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