We live in a fast paced world. That’s just the way it is now in our modern society. It may vary from culture to culture, but for the most part we live very busy lives. We rush through our year and then are in shock when the Christmas whirlwind hits. It seems like every year at one point I am reminded to just slow down, take a moment, breathe, think of what’s really important, and appreciate those things.
Today, Luka and Olivia and I started out our day in such a nice way. We have been waking up before 5am every day due to jet lag and this morning we had some extra cuddles together. Luka had a meeting and Olivia and I went to the store for a few groceries. We came back to have a snack and snuggled together on the couch. Then we got rather sleepy and I fell asleep on the couch for a few minutes while Luka took Olivia to her bed to sleep. Luka and I passed our time pleasantly, sitting in the sun and talking. When Olivia woke up she was not the cheerful ray of sunshine she had been earlier that day. She was grouchy, cranky, and crying. The three of us sat together on the couch and tried to improve the mood. Olivia was sitting on my lap, resting on me, and had calmed down quite a bit. Because the situation was no longer tumultuous I felt the urge to say, “Okay! Let’s get started on lunch.” That’s when I got my reminder.
A few months ago Olivia and I were having a rough day. I was having a rough day because she was. From the moment we got up in the morning everything was falling apart. It seemed like nothing made her happy and not only did it not make her happy, but it seemed to fuel her meltdowns. Hours and hours of crying and whining and tantrums until I wanted to scream in her face, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!” Thankfully, I had just enough patience left in me that I didn’t do that. At one point I thought, “What would I have wanted when I was a child?” and so I got down on my knees, got down to her level, and said quietly and kindly, “Olivia, do you need a hug?” She came instantly to me. I held her for a moment and then picked her up. I went into our room and sat on the exercise ball with her. We just sat there together, not saying a word. After about 5 minutes I said, “Can I put you down now?” She replied, “No.” I had things to do, but then again there were always things to do. After 15 minutes or so Olivia suddenly got down and said to me, “Mami, I feel better,” and off she went. She was a perfect angel for the rest of the day.
That day taught me so much. I sat there on the ball after she walked away and tried to process what had just happened. What was it that she had needed? Was it that I had been too busy to give her the attention she needed? Was she going through some phase? Is she just the type that needs physical affection and reassurance more than others? Whatever it was, something had worked. I thought about what would have happened if I had just pushed through the day. What would our day had been like had I not taken those few moments to ignore my seemingly important schedule? It was a powerful lesson for me and I didn’t even really understand it. All I understood from that experience was that “things” will always be there. The schedule never ends. But when I get to be old and I look back on my life, I will never regret the extra time I give my child. The thing is, kids don’t understand what a schedule is. They don’t perceive time like we do. They only know that we cared or we didn’t, we were there or we weren’t. It was important or they were important.
Sitting on the couch this morning I thought of that day back home. Because of that I didn’t get up and start lunch. I didn’t hand her off to Luka. I didn’t start talking about something else. I just sat there. The three of us sat together closely, quietly, peacefully on that couch. When we did finally get up, Olivia was cheerful again and excited to go outside where the sun was divinely shining.
The weather here in Southern California reached a beautiful 75° and we soaked it up. We breathed it in. We absorbed it. Olivia quickly abandoned her clothes and was running around the pool naked. She loved it. I loved it. Luka loved it. She got into the water, even though it was much too cold for swimming. She didn’t mind. Would we have been able to fully enjoy this afternoon had we not given her those quiet moments earlier? Who knows. I just know that while the season is in full swing and while we’re all rushing around to get gifts for people, I want to remember that the people themselves are the real gift. Our time with them is the real gift. Sometimes it’s the relatives we haven’t seen in a while, but sometimes it’s the people we see every day.