I have my own personal and portable DJ. Reed loves to play music for me as we drive from activity to activity. He plugs his iPod into the car’s reverse-USB port and carefully selects songs based on factors of the moment.
On a recent trip that was just the two of us — which meant he got to sit in the front seat — he chose songs from our past. One he got done fiddling with his iPod and the music began, he did something remarkable.
He reached out for my hand.
For the rest of the 15-minute trip, our fingers were as intertwined as our voices.
The next day, Tessa invited me to take the dog for a walk with her. “Come with me, Mama,” she said in the unguarded tone of voice I remember from her pre-teen days. And by “pre-teen” I mean “less hostile.”
We found the leash, clipped it on Dexter, and headed out the door. Before we even got around the corner, Tessa did something remarkable.
She reached out for my hand.
For the rest of the 15-minute stroll, our hands connected us and our stride synched us.
Teen Girl had had a rough day, as often happens for teen girls in middle school.
At dinner, each of us — Dad, Mom, and Tween Brother — did our best to help her feel better from the trials of her day, but the meal ended with Teen Girl in tears, dramatically fleeing from the table in favor of a flounce on her bed.
After awhile I went up to simply abide with her. I laid facing her with my hand on her shoulder, saying nothing but breathing oh-so-slightly visibly, audibly — a human prompt. Dad soon joined us, positioning himself as an appropriate metaphor about family always having each other’s back. Dexter, never one to be left out of a group hug, hopped up on the bed, too, tail wagging and adding in his special kind of soothing influence.
A few moments later, Tween Brother came in, shattering our efforts to calm Teen Girl with his obnoxious iPod, which we all heard coming up the stairs. I started to shush and shoo him. Couldn’t he see we were in the Middle of Something and weren’t in the mood for blaring Bruno Mars?
Luckily I’m not super slow (only slightly slow), and in a flash it clicked that his iPod selection wasn’t random, and his presence with his iPod was anything but careless. Rather, it was full of care. Tween Brother joined our family pile and began singing to his sister in his endearing, off-key voice.
“Mom — he’s eating my cereal!” “Mom — tell her to give back my football!” “Mom — she told everyone I never change my socks!” “Mom — he got to pick the show last time!” “Mom — it’s MY turn sit in the middle!” Mom! Mom! Mom!
Whether it’s a toy, a book, a privilege, a secret, a seat, a snack, a song, a choice, an activity, my children can find a way to fight about it with copious exclamation points, always preceded by my moniker, “Mom!” They seem continually armed against each other.
But. They seem to save such combativeness for me. For I witness, on occasion, their alter-natures when they don’t know I’m watching.
As I parked at the grocery store one afternoon, I realized I could save time by having Tessa and Reed help me multitask, giving me a little more time to get supper on the table before Reed’s basketball game. So I asked the kids if they felt they were ready to run a short errand for me. They were to walk together over to the mail center, just a hundred feet away from the grocery store, while I ducked in to get dinner ingredients. They would drop off a couple of envelopes, see if there was anything to pick up, and meet me at grocery checkout.
We quickly covered the rules, not for the first or even the hundredth time: stay together, watch for cars, pay attention to your surroundings, be ready to run (together) and yell loudly if anyone gets too close to you. They basically said, “duh, Mom” and eagerly exited the car to push the frontier of their independence. I blew kisses and headed the other direction.
And looked back at them (you knew I would).
As they walked away from me, so grown up yet young, so carefree but careful, their hands reached for each others’.
I felt the twang of a string that tied them to me — I felt it snap as my kids went further out into the world without me. I also felt my heart soar as I saw them rely on each other, enjoy each other, connect with each other in this small, ordinary, extraordinary moment.
I’m so happy I noticed it.
Perfect Moment Monday is about noticing a perfect moment rather than creating one. Perfect moments can be momentous or ordinary or somewhere in between.
On the last Monday of each month we engage in mindfulness about something that is right with our world. Everyone is welcome to join.