Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Lesson in Appreciating the Little Moments

It's so easy for me to get caught up in all there is to do, all that's on my plate, and to lose my true focus in any given moment.

A typical day around here includes several loads of laundry, emptying and refilling the dishwasher, prep and clean-up of three meals plus snacks, school work for two children (and sometimes more... if Princess and LilBro are also asking to "do school"), bills to be paid (or at least bank accounts to be resolved), sweeping (and vacuuming/mopping), straightening clutter, putting away toys, kissing of "boo-boos," refereeing arguments, and lately - since the weather's improved - fitting in a bike ride or walk in the afternoons as a family. Any given day also holds it's share of outside activities: dance classes, art classes, sports practices, field trips, scouts, playdates.

So maybe it's understandable that I can get caught up in the list and lose the moment. That it really is quicker and easier to prepare the meal myself than to move over and make room for my little "helpers." That my heart isn't always in the "boo-boo" kisses and my mind isn't fully present for the knock-knock jokes.

Understandable, maybe. But not ok.

On Monday afternoon this week, a woman from my parish - someone I knew but not a close friend - went for a bike ride. She did this often. It was a regular part of an ordinary day, some small time for herself that she eked out between mothering two girls, being a loving wife, and working tirelessly for the parish. Some small way of taking care of herself - physically and mentally. But Monday was not an ordinary day. At some point during her ride, she collapsed. By the grace of God, a paramedic was nearby, and help was summoned. But she didn't make it. She died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, at the age of 40, leaving behind a husband and two daughters, ages 8 and 10.

Monday night, as word spread around our community, I was shocked, grieved, angry. DH and I shared tears and prayers over long distance phone lines. Tuesday morning, I awoke, my first thoughts of her husband, and the intensity of the grief he must be feeling, waking this morning to the new reality of his life... to the knowledge that her death wasn't some horrendous nightmare.

I have kept her and her family in my thoughts and prayers over the past 24 hours. But I've also noticed a change in myself. I found myself noticing, appreciating, giving thanks for all of the little moments that make up my days.

"Mommy, can I help you make lunch?"

"Aunt Jen, did I ever tell you about..."

"Meow... I'm a kitty, not a LilBro."

I tried harder to be more present all day yesterday. I turned the computer off for large portions of the day, checking just my email once every few hours, to see if there was any more news. I said yes to every offer to "help" me. I took the kids for a bike ride, and stopped every time LilBro wanted to pick some flowers. I pointed out the duck swimming in the creek. We all stopped and spent about 5 minutes watching a garter snake cross the trail.

Of course, the trick is to keep this presence of mind into the present and beyond. To hold onto the preciousness of each moment, to remember the gift that this life is. To never forget that first and foremost, I am here to mother, to love, to serve. Everything else is details. Everything else is less important. Not unimportant, but less important.

To appreciate the absolute truth that it's these little moments, the ordinary bits of the regular days, that actually matter most in our lives.

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