The sun was still asleep when she woke up and came toddling down the steps. It was barely six in the morning and I’d been up until almost two planning a birthday party for her brother. He was turning two in a few weeks and there were invites to mail, menus to plan and guest lists to tweak. But upstairs, she slept soundly until the sound of the neighbor’s truck starting up stirred her from her slumber.
I pulled her into our bed and murmured, “It’s not morning yet, sweet girl. Let’s try to go back to sleep.” She pushed my bangs away from my eyes, put her face right in front of mine and broke into a huge grin. “That just means there’s more time to PLAY, mama!” she exclaimed in a volume far too loud for that hour of day.
Half asleep, I poured pancake batter and mixed it up. She hopped up on the countertop and rested her back against the wall, helping me stir and pour. A few minutes later, we were pouring syrup over them, laughing about everything and nothing all at once.
The thing is, I was super tired. Like any overworked and overstressed parent out there, I could use about 24 hours of sleep a night and barely getting four hours didn’t seem fair. Yet, watching the rays of amber and rose appear slowly in the sky, then to look over at my daughter happily munching on her sticky pancakes, not a worry or fear in the world, I realized that I was exactly where I was meant to be.
I see an early morning I could have been sleeping in. She sees a stolen moment with mom in the kitchen and the chance to eat her favorite treat in the early morning sun. I see a yard full of weeds. She sees dandelions ready to be plucked carefully and put in a vase. I see a rainy, boring Saturday spent indoors and it makes me stir-crazy. She wraps up in a blanket and throws popcorn in the air declaring it the best day ever.
There’s plenty to fret about in the world. There are war and terror, addiction and adversaries. But, if we look hard enough there’s plenty of good, too. As adults, it can be easy to become cynical about such beauty. After all, we have deadlines to meet and deliverables to make. We have a never-ending to-do list and tiny people looking to us for money, meals, attention and more. After enough setbacks, we can become hardened to the littlest joys. Yet, my children have taught me that there’s where the good stuff really is.
So I’m slowing down and looking more intently. I’m savoring every opportunity to look at life through the rose-colored glasses that my kids never seem to take off. It’s taking some time and I’ll admit that most days it’s an uphill struggle, but practice makes perfect and I’m determined to change my perspective. All it takes is getting down on my toddlers’ level and taking a good look around.