|At the beach! (And yes, he’s eating bread…)|
Well hello again! I’ve been traveling for most of the last week – 18 hours of total cartime with my husband and our (now) three children (still can’t believe that!). And what an adventure it was. I have a few thoughts to share about a realization I had during our travels – one that has inspired me to strive to live more “in the moment” and that I hope will inspire you to do the same. Before you tune out (“yeah, yeah, live in the moment, I hear this all the time”) I may not be using that phrase in exactly the way you’re thinking, so read on…
First, a bit of background…
The main reason for this particular trip was to attend a memorial service for my cousin Patrick, who died this year at 42 after enduring a nearly lifelong illness. His mother, Judy, who had been his constant caretaker for his entire life, ensured that the service was a celebration of his life rather than a mourning of his death. The service culminated with the release of 101 baby blue balloons on a breathtakingly sunny hilltop as the song “I’ll Fly Away” by Jars of Clay played into the open air. Standing there holding my infant daughter and looking down upon our 3-year-old and 5-year-old, I cried tears of gratitude for the overwhelming blessings in my life, and tears of compassion for Judy’s loss of her own son. I silently resolved to do a better job of cherishing these days with young children, knowing that as challenging as they may sometimes be, I’ll undoubtedly recall even the most difficult days with fondness as the kids grow up.
After the service, we traveled to northern Ohio where we visited with my husband’s grandmother (and his aunt and cousins) and then spent two days tucked away at a Dirty-Dancing-style family-friendly resort on the shore of Lake Erie. Our 5 year old REALLY wanted to go to the beach this summer and this was our best opportunity – hey – she’s only 5 – a lake beach is still a beach to her! The kids had a blast participating in all of the family activities offered and, yes, they got to play on the beach. Next year maybe they’ll even see an ocean…
As we traveled from destination to destination, and the children napped in their carseats, my husband and I had the rare opportunity for long, uninterrupted conversations. What a pleasure! During one of them, I made the observation that vacations are so different now than they used to be when it was just the two of us. Back then, we had the WHOLE TRIP to ourselves. We could indulge any whim, accommodate any detour, wake, sleep and eat whenever we chose. Now, of course, as any of you with children know, it’s not like that at all! We live by their schedule, indulge their whims, accommodate their moods and needs. And while it’s wonderful in its own way, it seems there should still be a bit of time for us too! And that’s when it struck me that this, too, might actually be a lesson about living in the moment.
See, while we may not have an entire trip to relax and unwind, moments still open up in which to do so. Moments that are just for us…that fit into the spaces in between stretches of being a mom or a dad.
Moments like these:
- An uninterrupted conversation while the kids nap in carseats
- A nonfat decaf Starbucks latte from the lobby coffee bar savored while the kids are in a coloring contest
- A run on the beach while the family is still asleep
- A Fast Company magazine read in the room while the 3 year old naps and the infant nurses and your husband has the 5 year old on the “beach”
- A hot shower before dinner with the door locked (and your spouse watching the kids in the next room)
- A glass of wine (or dish of ice cream) eaten on the deck off the hotel room when it’s finally quiet
- A PTI podcast and Diet root beer in the car as you drive while 3 kids AND your wife nap (that one’s for you, honey)
None of these moments may last very long, but they may be even sweeter because of it. Kind of like this phase of life with very young children.