Monday is often a day of reflection for me. In part, because I am sitting with the question, “What do I want to write about?” More often than not, I find that something has happened over the weekend that I can take learning from.
I do not ask myself, “Okay, where did I screw up this weekend?” because I am not interested in simply finding fault or living in a constant state of self-improvement. The question often arises as “What did I notice this
So, what did I notice about this past weekend? Well, there was a lot of logistical management. Three baseball games, an out of state cycling race, a piano recital, an extended family dinner, teaching religious education class, welcoming our ministerial candidate at church – that’s off the top of my head.
These were all good things that I was looking forward to. But by Sunday afternoon when it was finally time for the piano recital, I was a little fried. My daughter was a bit put out that her dad wasn’t coming to the recital because he had taken her brother to his cycling race in New York. I had just coordinated getting child number three to his baseball game that coincided with the recital.
We arrived at the hall ten minutes early for the recital. And what we found was just that - a hall – or rather, a hallway to wait in because there was an earlier recital still going on. Along with thirty or so other people, we waited in the stuffy hallway, and I began to wonder if I would make it to the baseball game in time to pick up child number three at the end of his game. The recital usually lasted one hour and the baseball game was an hour and fifteen minutes. The six minute drive still gave me nine minutes of leeway.
I found myself standing in the hallway, managing my own nerves about waiting and trying to project calm for the sake of my thirteen year old who can be a bit rigid when it comes to punctuality – especially when she is overheated.
Did I mention how hot it was in that hallway?
Besides my anxiety about running late, I was also managing feelings of guilt for not signing up to bring a snack for the reception following the recital. Not that we would be staying for the reception, but I still felt self-conscious.
In addition, I was trying to let go of self-consciousness about us being dressed in jeans and sneakers for the recital. These were our church clothes, but church had involved planting in the garden in the rain, so they were a bit bedraggled and a tad muddy.
I talked to myself in my head, “This is who I am. I don’t need to dress for a part. I am showing up and that is what matters.” I smiled to myself because I saw someone stumble in heels, and I felt grateful to be there in sneakers.
The recital started twenty-five minutes late, and I debated whether I could run out before Sadie’s performance to go get her brother or perhaps skip out after her performance and have her walk home when it was done. I found myself texting during the recital, checking in with my husband and with my son’s coach, to see if we could come up with a Plan B. I’m sure sitting in the front row texting during a recital earned me a few raised eyebrows. Such is life.
I was glad when it ended; we rushed out and went to pick up my son at his friend’s house where he had gone after the game.
It was only later in the evening when a friend sent me a picture of Sadie from the recital did it sink in:
What if these moments were not things to get through?
What if these moments were things to experience?
And I realized that this is what I had forgotten. I had forgotten to be present to the experiences of my children. I don’t want to do logistical gymnastics and manage feelings of stress. I want to watch my son play error-less second base. I want to watch his brother strike out the side. I want to sit and listen to my daughter’s favorite piece on the piano.
I want to enjoy these moments because I’ve been warned that they are fleeting. I want to let the logistical messes fall away. These moments do not need to be problems to be solved, they can simply be what is.
My daughter’s recital went long. My son went to a friend’s house to play. There is no tragedy here, no major indignity or offense.
In fact, there is music here and joy and pride. And the surprise treat of spending time with a friend. There is much to celebrate. There is much for which to be grateful.
From David Steindl-Rast, I learned of this saying from the Hausa of Nigeria:
Give thanks for a little, and you will find a lot.
What is one small thing you are grateful for in this moment? What is the impact of noticing that gratitude?
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