Monday, July 15, 2013

Making the Most of the Day

"It's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years." -Abraham Lincoln

This summer, I find myself saying, "I could have used one more day" a lot. To save days off for a two-week trip My Director and I are taking to Europe later this month, I can't afford to extend weekend trips by taking off a Friday or Monday, like I normally would. This past weekend, for example, we made the drive to see My Director's brother and his wife in Vermont. Normally I would have taken Friday or Monday off, not only to extend the trip but to ease the burden of the six-hour drive as well. For the third time this summer, I didn't. Or couldn't. Once again this prompted my, "I could have used one more day." (All of this is a nice problem to have, I know.)

The three of us, rocking the canoe.
We are also not taking Peanut to Europe with us. This is a trip to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. European vacations are not for six year-olds, but that's a topic for another post. So we're trying to jam in as much Peanut quality time as we can when we're all together. With that in mind. I found myself trying to relax by the lake on Saturday, sitting in my beach chair and reading my book. Peanut, my brother-in-law, and I had just returned from a fun one-hour canoe trip around the lake. (See: Jamming in fun memories with Peanut before we desert her with my sister for two weeks.) That's when I noticed Peanut had taken my football out of the beach bag.

"Do you want me to play football with you?" I asked. And she shook her head yes. We then proceeded to play catch for a good 45 minutes, out of and then in the lake. I taught her how to throw a football and how to catch one. We've always been seize-the-moment, enjoy-the-ride kind of parents, and this summer we're being extra vigilant about it.

This all reminded me of the following post, where I got a second chance to seize a moment that I let slip away:

“The best inheritance a parent can give his children is a few minutes of his time each day.” - O. A. Battista

Sometimes the smallest thing will stop you in your tracks. And break your heart.

Another day started way too early as my alarm sounded at 4:24 in the morning. I dragged myself out of bed and stumbled downstairs, towel and razor in hand. I shower downstairs to ensure I don't wake everyone up.

There it was: frozen in time
Then, I saw it. Sitting there on one of the stools under the counter. One of the Peanut's books.

And that's when it hit me. Smacked me in the face, in fact.

Yesterday evening the Peanut ran into the kitchen holding that book. Did she want me to read it? No. She wanted to show me something in it. It's a book with a different dog on each page, and when you turn the pages each different dog takes on the same big googily eyes. She wanted to show me which one looks like Luna.

But I was too busy. To my defense, I really was very busy. I had to delay getting dinner started because Luna once again crapped in the living room. So I was annoyed and busy. 

And it grosses me out to have to clean up dog poop and cook a meal. The hand washing knows no end.

Standing there in the kitchen ten hours later, guilt consumed me. I remembered telling the Peanut to please wait. I wasn't nasty. I nicely explained to her that because Luna had an accident, I couldn't look right now. But I will in a minute.

This is the daily struggle we as working parents endure. Sometimes I stop doing what I'm doing and pay attention to her. If not, I will follow up in a minute, when I have a minute. (But who ever has a minute?)

That minute never came. I felt devastated. I felt I had disappointed her. I showered, soaked in sorrow. 

When I came home tonight to start dinner, I saw that book again. Forgotten again. By me. By the Peanut. Now 24 hours later, it still sat on that same stool.

I hadn't even taken my bag off my shoulder when I announced to her, "You know what I'd like you to do right now? May you show me what you wanted to show me in this puppy book?"

She immediately ran in from the playroom, as if no time had passed. She grabbed the book, turned the pages, and showed me. 

"This one is Luna:"
This is what she wanted to show me

Then she turned a few pages and said, "And this one is me:"
Peanut's the one with the pink bow

Maybe she didn't think anything of it. Maybe she did. Either way, I felt like in that one little moment, I saved her a trip to the therapist. I righted a wrong. 

And in that moment, we both felt better. All it took was a little time.

This post originally ran on August 17, 2011.

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