Jennifer writes: I am one of those people. One of those annoying people that cannot be quite satisfied with the way I am. What I mean is, although I make changes and have even completely transformed since let’s say five years ago, I know I can always improve. To the people around me this comes across as though I am too hard on myself, as though I feel my accomplishments are not good enough. They are good—in fact they are great, perhaps even somewhat astonishing considering the path I was on ten years ago—I just wouldn’t throw that word enough in there. I don’t believe that when it comes to my children, the word enough should ever apply.
Our children are our teachers.
My children had the courage to come down to this earth and show me how to live. How honored am I to be shown that grace? This gift is offered throughout the many moments of each day, and it is within each moment that I must choose to welcome it. All it takes is presence.
I must put away my work.
I must put away my homework.
I must close my laptop and silence my phone.
I must release my thoughts.
And just be in the moment.
This past week has given me several moments of clarity. I do not remember what this life has in store for me, but I do know what is offered to me now. I can choose to be fully present in each moment or I can rush through it, never living it.
I find myself constantly rushing our family through the day. Although I make a conscious attempt to stay at home as much as possible, if we need to leave our house I hurry my daughter through getting dressed, eating breakfast, and getting out the door. I hurry her home and then through lunch so we can have a timely nap. When she wakes up she has some relaxation before I hurry her through dinner so we can hurry through our nighttime routine to get to sleep on time.
What an assault to her being! Parker Palmer defines violence as, “any way we have of violating the identity and integrity of another person.”
My daughter is the kindest, most generous being I have ever known. She is also creative and sensitive, spirited and calm. But I can make her anxious. The other evening I asked her to choose one book she would like me to read before bed. I sat on the floor with her baby sister and studied her carefully as she stood with her back to me, searching. Her tall, slender frame was strong and confident, yet her movements were so gentle. Her long hair curled at the ends as it reached the middle of her back and her ivory wool long underwear she wore as pajamas clung to her disappearing baby belly as she turned to show me the book she had chosen. She was happy. I had not said my usual, “please hurry it’s close to bedtime;” instead, I purposefully slowed down my speech and chose my words carefully and thoughtfully. I honored our time together and I honored her.
I am on a journey and I will choose my path. Every day. Every moment.
I choose to be late if it means my daughter can sing her heart out in the mirror as she brushes her teeth.
I choose to rethink bedtime if it means we can enjoy a more meaningful conversation at dinner.
I choose to turn in my assignment late if it means I can say “yes” to playing grocery store.
I choose to not answer my phone if it means I can become a better fort-builder for a certain four-year-old architect.
I choose to be patient always. And to be patient with myself when I forget.
I choose giggling and pretending, sharing and singing. I choose joy. I choose my children.
Jennifer Sullivan is a recent LifeWays graduate and currently a Masters student in the Great Lakes Waldorf Teacher Training. She is a work-at-home, stay-at-home mommy of a four-year-old and an infant.
When Death Comes, by Mary Oliver
When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.