by Courtney Westfall
I learned an important lesson when my older son was almost two years old, and it has been percolating in my brain as of late.
My mom watches our boys on Mondays while I work. It was my second week back after maternity leave with my second son, and I was running really late. My chest was tight from stressing out because I REALLY HATE BEING LATE. It takes so much planning and STUFF to get our family ready and out the door every day and I was running around like a crazy person.
I finally got the kids to my mom’s and was racing out the door to drive to work. Liam was playing with some blocks on the floor and said, “Mommy, sit down please. Play blocks.” I hesitated for a second (I think I physically felt my heart break) and then said, “Sorry, baby. Mommy has to go to work.” I hugged him and kissed him and left. And sobbed, I mean blubbered, the whole way to work.
What an awful feeling! I was sad the whole day and missed my boys. When I got back to my mom’s, I told her how sad I was all day. My whole day had a dark cloud over it because I felt like I failed my son. My mom thought about it and then said, “There is nothing so important at work that couldn’t wait for you to sit down and play blocks with Liam for five minutes.” She was so right. I would have saved myself a day of heartache by just sitting down for a few minutes. And after a few minutes, Liam would have been done with me anyway and ready to move on to something else.
I love my boys so much and want to do what’s best for them every day. I hate it when I mess up, but I’m learning and re-learning that there is no such thing as a perfect parent (or employee, or spouse, or child). I’m dying to get this coffee mug as a reminder that I’m not ever going to be a perfect parent!
There is a chapter in James Bryan Smith’s book, The Good and Beautiful God, that talks about “hurry sickness.” I have hurry sickness. I’ve had it as long as I can remember. And I don’t want to pass it on to my kids. The problem is, I don’t know how to fix this on my own. And then I am reminded that I don’t have to. I don’t have the cure to hurry sickness. But I know the Great Physician does. My prayer is that I will seek to have God’s perspective on things as I go about my day and learn to be present wherever I am. One way to do that is to s-l-o-w d-o-w-n and soak up the precious moments God sprinkles throughout each day.
As this concept has been rattling around in my head, my dear friend gave me a Rustic Cuff (read: really cool) bracelet that says “Wherever you are, be all there.” What a great reminder every time I look down!
Lord, show me where to put my priorities and how to know when to stop and sit on the floor to play blocks.
What about you? Does the term “hurry sickness” resonate with you? Have you discovered any tips or ways to help you slow down and experience things “in the moment”?
Courtney Westfall is the Minister of Preschool and Lower Elementary at First United Methodist Church and is raising two kids (soon to be three) with her husband Kyle. She loves baking, naps and building forts out of blankets.