Lately people keep telling me I should really appreciate my kids while they are young. It’s the usual “they grow up so quickly” thing. You’ve heard it, “Before you know it they’re finishing high school and its over”. We all know the theory – but recently I’ve been told this quite emphatically, emotionally and repeatedly.
One beautiful woman I met at a workshop, and to whom I’d never spoken before in my life, looked me deep in the eyes and said it so emphatically that we both got tears in our eyes. Now that’s difficult to ignore. And then yesterday another woman said the very same thing to me and looked at me in a searching way as if to ask, “Are you hearing this?”
So I had to stop and think, “What’s up with that? Am I missing something? Am I not doing this enough?” My messengers weren’t people who’d seen me with my kids and thought “Hoo boy, she’s so not present with her kids. Someone had better sort this chick out!” They were just people passing through my day, dropping off their message and waltzing on by.
I’ve been a mile-a-minute in the last while. Engrossed in my work and writing, my creative projects. I’m even fitting in a few friends and I feel like I spend real and loving quality time with my boys and partner (real super woman stuff) yet this message comes through to me in this way.
In our five minute (I kid you not) conversation, the woman at the workshop, a successful doctor, shared that when her children were young she was so busy with work and projects that the children received less than she now wishes she had given them. She said, “I gave plenty of love and nurturing to my clients but not enough to my kids. I missed it. Now I can see their need. Don’t miss it!”
That’s when we both teared up.
“Don’t miss it!’ What am I missing? We hear all these clichés about taking the time to appreciate the important things like relationships and I know it’s true. I mean, really, at the end of my days I’m not going to review my life and regret not having cleaned the bathroom enough, impressed the neighbours, published a book or had money am I? It’s the richness of my relationships – how much love I’ve given and allowed myself to receive – that will give me the feeling of a life well lived.
So in the midst of what is so normal to us nowadays – work, writing, creative projects, networking, running a household, keeping a spouse and friends, looking after children – this message has made me stop and ask myself if my priorities are in order. Am I putting what’s most important first? Are my children and spouse losing out in any way because of my other commitments?
My answer was most definitely yes. In a subtle way, but yes. (I mean really, look at the order of my list up there! Totally unconsciously written.)
They’re not small for long, or so I’m told. Over and over… So maybe being as present as I can be while they are small is the most important thing I could be doing with my life? The other stuff is wonderful but it’s not going to be what I look at with the deepest satisfaction on my death bed is it? It’s the people gathered around me that will nourish my heart and make it all worthwhile. So I have to ask myself, “Am I nurturing those people enough?”
What’s actually important to me? Am I living accordingly now?
And then I have to keep remembering it over and over when the seductions of ‘out there’ shake their tempting assets at me.