You never quite know when that moment is going to come. The one that finally helps you make sense of things. The moment when someone says the words that matter -- words you have been hearing for many years, but never took the time to listen to -- and you're actually listening. That moment. Mine happened this morning.
On the way to the doctor's office, I was having one of my usual one-sided conversations that occupy a lot of space in my head. This morning's theme had to do with the if only game. Already late for our appointment, I spent most of the drive feeling bad for waiting so long to take my son in. Quickly my self-talk turned to if only. If only I worked part-time, I would have taken care of this sooner. If only I could fit it all in, I would be happier; my kids would be happier.
I was mid-sentence in my thoughts when my son hacked and coughed so hard he farted. The kids erupted in a laughing fit so wild that I couldn't help but join in. I knew we had to be at the doctor's office in five minutes. I knew I had a million things to get done today -- but I pulled over. I pulled over and joined in.
You see, before I decided to change direction, I was stuck in my head. Playing the if only game. If only I worked part-time, I would be a better mom. If only I had more time, I would be able to fit it in. If only my body was stronger, thinner, better. If only... fill in the blank. You name it, I have made an if only statement for every possible situation.
I quickly realized that my kids could not pull it together. Their laughter was getting sillier by the moment. My son alternated between coughing, laughing and farting. My daughter had the ear-to-ear smile that I don't get to see very often. Their laughter was so contagious, I couldn't ignore it. I had to join in.
This is what happens while life is going on and I'm too busy planning other things. Thinking about the if onlys. I looked at both of them and said, "I'm sorry." Sorry for not paying more attention. Sorry that you ended up with That Mom. Sorry for not being in the moment more often.
Then it happened. My moment. My daughter looked at me with those wise eyes and said, "Mom, you are busy, we understand. I just wish you would slow down and enjoy it more, enjoy life."
My moment happened at 8:45 a.m. in a parking space. All of a sudden, the if only conversation didn't matter. I realized that life is happening. MY LIFE is happening all around me, and I am not paying attention. I'm too busy wishing, wanting, hoping, planning for something else. Too busy looking forward, scheduling every moment. Too busy thinking about other possibilities. I am not enjoying what is right in front of me.
Sometimes I feel like I'm waiting for something that isn't ever going to happen. While I wait, life goes on. I miss moments. I finally realized that I can't allow the if only to be my message, my self-talk. I need to appreciate what I have RIGHT NOW. Minimize the "to-do" lists. Stop planning every part of every day. Stop letting life happen while I wait for something different, something better.
Today, I recognized that the secret to being happy is to accept where I am now, and make the most out of every day. I need to pull over and pay attention, because if I don't, I will miss it. Life will go on.
In that parking spot, I finally paid attention. Really looked at what was around me. Smiled as I thought about my life. Accepted that where I am right now is exactly where I need to be.
Today, I chose not to wait for the perfect moment. I took the moment, my moment, and made it perfect. I fell in love with my life all over again.