Oklahoma City family fun is all about the time you have together.
“Look! Mom, it’s the Butterfly Nebula,” my son, Sam, announced. I glanced up from the sink, barely hearing him.
“The what?,” I asked finally, after mentally cross-referencing what that could possibly be, any relevance to our daily life.
Nothing. Space isn’t something I think about.
“The Butterfly Nebula! Isn’t it beautiful?,” he asked, waving a copy of “National Geographic” in my direction. It is beautiful, I had to admit.
More than the actual beauty of something far out in space, it occurred to me, was the simple happiness of that moment. Right then, I saw the wonder, the “I want to share this with you” gesture from a third grader who is growing so quickly I don’t even know how we got here, wet hands and all, peeling potatoes on an ordinary Wednesday inside my kitchen.
My response had to be better.
“Yes. It’s beautiful. Tell me about that nebula!,” I managed.
I took a minute to look and engage, really see, but a minute was all I could spare.
Mindful parenting isn’t easy, with so much beeping, pressing forward, vying for our attention. The moments they want to share with us happen in the middle of everything else, it seems, like driving or cooking.
Days turn into weeks as I’m watching but not always seeing these children. Before I know it, the week is up again and I can’t believe another has passed. My three sons are there through all that goes into our days: work, play, school, activities.
I have a sneaking suspicion I will say the same about their childhood. Time is passing, not as something distant, out in the ether, but right here in our kitchen and car.
So we try to make time, to haul out the too-big telescope and gaze at the stars. Find places to go together and barter with the other pressing parties in our lives for time, the ultimate currency.
The daily business of living can’t get in the way of life. It’s all a balance, people say, but I question what kids see from their more single-minded vantage points. The dots my oldest son wants to connect form pictures in the sky and that’s okay for now. Long live the wonder of childhood.
“Mom, mom! Look up! It’s your favorite constellation. Orion is right above you!,” Sam has flown into the garage at night, in bare feet, to remind me to look for Orion as I go about the unglamorous task of taking the trash bin to the curb.
I look up and there they are, three points of light. “One for each of you,” I say.
What I don’t say is important too: you’re out here in your pajamas, in the cold, go back inside. I let it slide.
Sometimes, just a moment’s pause can illuminate, show us another way.
If you’re looking for a way to spend quality time with your children, check out MetroFamily’s calendar.