He heard me sigh as he walked past the bedroom where I sat with our little girl. She'd been crying off and on all evening, unimpressed with my efforts to soothe her, to help her fall asleep. And all I could think about was my growing to-do list, each item becoming more urgent as another day passed.
I wanted to say nothing. I always say nothing.
But this time, I didn't.
"I'm frustrated because I want to be able to put her down and do all the other things I need to do..."
I wish I could express how monumental those words are, simple though they may be.
"I'm frustrated because..."
How different from my usual response. "Nothing," that's all I ever say, all I can ever bring myself to say. The real answer is screaming in my head but my tongue refuses to give it life. Give me a pen or a keyboard and I'll show you my soul, but ask me to say it aloud and the words simply won't come out. I don't remember a time when it was any different. Always me, words in my head, throat closed, tongue still, thoughts unspoken.
But oh, in that moment, when thoughts became spoken words, what freedom. Once it was said, once my frustration over the disparity between my desire and my reality was acknowledged, I was able to move past it. I stepped back into the present and simply accepted it, saw it, enjoyed it for what it was.
And it was beautiful.
I noticed the way I can cradle her entire body in my arm, the way her head fits so perfectly in my hand. I breathed in her milky breath and the lingering newborn smell in her hair. I felt her soft cheek and looked in her dark eyes.
I stopped trying to get her to fall asleep, for what good is it to seek to achieve a goal over which I have no control? I stopped worrying over my to-do list, for what good are distractions and worries and failed attempts at multi-tasking? Such unnecessary frustrations when peace can be found in savouring the present moment. Forget fruitless strivings and overrated to-do lists; I'd rather enjoy these times while they're still here.
I still do it too often, I know. I glance at my email while reading a book to my boys. I rush them through mealtime instead of lingering at the table with them. I try to get work down while nursing the tiny baby. I live too often with attention torn, one eye focused on present distractions or future worries, leaving me half-blind to the fullness of the moment.
Will I never learn?
But they're teaching me, these three children of mine. Unconcerned with anything but the present and all of us so much happier when I join them there, they're teaching me.
And more and more often, I'm remembering.