Yesterday was one of those days. I didn’t sleep well the night before, I rolled out of bed late, and I just couldn’t get it together to finish a cup of coffee between emails. By the time I headed for the shower, I was running much later than I wanted to for my first meeting of the day. When I walked into the bathroom, I shut the door tightly behind me, ready to use my three minutes alone to cry about being tired. As I stepped under the hot water, I heard a familiar sound. Soft, uncoordinated knocking on the door, and my husband saying to our daughter, “Are you looking for mommy, Maddy?”
Immediately, my brain recognized this as a threat to my schedule. If Maddy toddled into the bathroom with my husband trailing behind her, it would turn my quick shower into a whole thing. Maddy would throw all the shampoo and body wash that was resting on the edge of the tub at my toes. I’d have to pick it all up, my hair would get wet, then the dog would wander in to see what the commotion was about and he’d probably toot because of his chronic digestive issues, thus rendering my delicious-smelling shea butter body wash totally useless. But as I peeked out from behind the curtain and Maddy ambled toward me, arms outstretched, my tense shoulders relaxed. My daughter loves me so much that when I escape for a three-minute shower, she cares enough to search the house until she finds me. And then she wants to be with me, even if it means getting soaking wet.
Instead of sighing and asking my husband to remove her from the bathroom, I let my heart melt into the moment. I invited Maddy into the shower with me so she could stomp in the “puddles” and hold me tightly as we both enjoyed the warm water. I laughed with her as she slid her hands across the beads of water on the wall, sang a few rounds of If You’re Happy And You Know It and kissed her head as she snuggled into my chest, enjoying the moment as completely as I was. Had I allowed my schedule to propel me past that instant when her hands reached out for mine, I would have missed one of the greatest moments I’ve experienced as a mother thus far. Did I leave the house a little later than I wanted to? Absolutely. But, you know what? The ten minutes I stole from my job in favor of focusing on my daughter made zero difference in the trajectory of my workday. It did, however, give me a memory I’ll cherish for the rest of my life.
My friends and family will tell you that I’m someone who loves love. There’s nothing in this world that makes me happier than giving or receiving, or even witnessing someone giving or receiving love. But I’m human, and like anyone else, when I’m facing a day filled with emails, phone calls, meetings, projects, errands, laundry, cooking, cleaning, running, etc., etc., etc., it’s so easy to speed past an instant where Maddy wants a hug or I could pop a lingering kiss on my husband’s cheek, or even give the farty dog a pat on the noggin. The thing is, those are the tiny moments that matter most, yet they’re the small actions most likely to be recognized by our brains as superfluous.
The giving of love and the making of a memory don’t have to be long, drawn-out things with planning and lots of thought and some measure of glitter. These things can happen in an instant. Even in time you had allocated for crying alone in a steamy shower, dangerously close to a dog whose gas takes no prisoners. Your to-do list can wait a little longer, your emails can pile up for a few more minutes, and your dirty laundry can remain untouched for as long as you need it to. Of course, the time you put toward those things matters, but not as much as even a few seconds that you’ll put toward giving someone a kiss, a hug, or even a heartfelt smile. I guarantee those stolen moments will enrich your life way more than perfectly maintaining your busy schedule.
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