Friday, March 5, 2010

The Day I Forgot "Everything"

"The biggest mistake I made as a parent is the one that most of us make. … I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of my three children sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages six, four, and one. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less” (Anna Quindlen, Loud and Clear, 2004, 10–11).

Monday is my busiest day. It’s the day I’m re-charged after a weekend “off schedule.” I go crazy trying to get on top of the week before the inevitable unraveling process begins again. One of the gazillion things that happens on Monday is going to the grocery store with my two younger children while my two older children are at piano lessons. (The time limit helps me get out of there quick!)

One Monday a few weeks back I was a little annoyed when I noticed my wallet wasn’t in my purse and it would take too long to go back for it. I decided I could still be productive during that hour by going over the lists, schedules, calendars and loose post-it notes in my overstuffed planner. Unbelievably, I had managed to leave my planner at home as well! My last resort for using my time wisely was to call some far away family I hadn’t spoken to in awhile, but - you guessed it - my phone was most definitely hanging out with my wallet and planner.

What to do now? I felt like a fish out of water, like my security blanket of busy-ness had been stripped from me and I didn’t know what to do. And then as quickly as that feeling came, a new one took it’s place: the feeling of freedom! I had none of my usual “tools” that practically beg for my attention every time I’m in their presence. They were completely inaccessible so I had no choice but to wile away the hour with my two young daughters.

We climbed out of the car and spent the next hour playing in the tiny front yard of the piano teacher’s house, chasing each other like mad around her one, ant covered tree. They were both laughing hysterically, having the time of their lives being chased by Mommy Monster. I was having fun running and listening to them shriek and squeal. It was by far the best hour of the day and I was more than a little humbled to think how many moments like these I had lost to the tyranny of my to-do list.

It’s not that mothers want to run themselves ragged. I’ve always thought it ironic that the multi-faceted and never ending nature of a mother’s work sometimes makes it difficult for mothers to actually be with their children! We spend so much time caring for them (of course there is much value in that, as well as working together as a family) but how much time do we actually enjoy just being with them? Just as there are perks and rewards inherent to jobs in the paid work force, motherhood has its own perks and rewards (too many to mention here actually) and I believe one of the biggest is play time with children.

During that short, but sweet hour I remembered the feeling of freedom I had as a child. Life before adult responsibilities, life before cell phones and planners, life before errands and never ending paperwork. As I turned my back on busy-ness, I remembered that spending “quality time” with my children was not just about them. I needed those moments of human connection and play to get centered and feel the joy and freedom that comes so naturally to children; a feeling I sometimes forget to let in.

So here is the challenge for you and I: set aside a little time every day to put your to-do list, wallet, phone, computer, planner, book, exercise ball, spatula (whatever it is!) DOWN and slow down, get down and play with your kids. You will thank you.

For more mom-centric articles like this, go to The website has received a major face lift recently with tons of new features like a photo contest of mothers with their children and a place to add your blog if you feel its content fits the content of the website.

1 comment:

  1. Allyson,
    Thanks this was just what I needed to hear today! You are an inspiration! I'm taking your challenge tomorrow! :)


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