I was busy, engrossed, focused on finishing the job I was doing. I heard the excited voice from the distance.
“MUM! MUM! MUM! I have to show you something really exciting! Come!”
It was my 4-year-old son. His voice was overflowing from extreme excitement. I heard this special eagerness in his voice but I was so engrossed on finishing what I was doing, I didn’t process it right away. I heard it but I didn’t listen.
Without turning around, I said, “Just a minute son. Just wait. I have to finish this.”
He was quiet. He wasn’t upset. He waited.
It was a good 5 minutes before I finished, and by then, my son had run back over to his dad.
I joined them. “Son, what did you want to show me?”
The climax of the excitement had past. The sparkle in his voice had faded into a glow. Son pointed to a nearby tree and said, “Dad and I, we saw cockatoos! Up in the tree.”
I smiled, but I immediately felt, not so much guilt, but sadness. Especially when my husband recounted the amazing things the birds were doing and how much fun they were having together.
Why was this, a moment lost? You know, I don’t pander to my children’s every whim and desire. Nor do I believe I need to immediately respond to every interruption from my children for them to be emotionally stable. No. That is not what this is about. This was a moment lost because it was a moment worth investing in. And it’s gone now.
I missed reinforcing the strength in the relationship between father and son.
“Did you and Dad see that? Together?”
I missed affirming the importance of looking around and noticing nature.
“It’s amazing: all the wonderful things you can see, isn’t it?”
I missed encouraging my son to live joyfully.
“I’m so glad you spotted that! Thank you for sharing it with me.”
I missed a potential educational teaching moment.
“What sort of bird are they again? Maybe when we are home we can look it up in Miss 8’s Australian Bird Watching Guide.”
I missed being the first-person-I want-to-tell person.
How long will I be that someone in his life I wonder?
I missed seeing the excited sparkle in his eyes.
They are sapphire blue, and they look almost purple when he is excited.
I missed his wide I’ve-found-something smile.
Teeth showing. Mouth in a wide O.
I’m not beating myself up here — I’ve invested in many such moments in my parenting career before and I don’t believe this missed moment will break everything we have — no; but I feel a little sad. Sad that I missed investing in that moment. Sad the moment, is now lost.
Being wise and investing in moments that count, I believe, creates a positive big picture over time, despite the ups and downs. What makes one moment worth investing in over others? All moments are precious but there are some I look for especially.
Moments that reinforce foundations and values
Moments that edify relationships
Moments of reconciliation after sadness or discipline
Moments of pure excitement
Poignant moments like this one
Moments that encourage creative thinking
Just before bed moments
Moments after a great achievement
The moment I greet my kids when I pick them up from school
Still moments of magic beauty
I miss golden moments like this one sometimes, and I’m sure it will happen again, but I’ll continue learn from my mistakes as I strive to be wise in investing in the moments that matter most.
A moment lost. A lesson learned.