When you have a large(ish) family, it's easy to get into efficiency mode, to snap out orders like a drill sergeant, to not really stop and listen to your children. I am guilty of cutting them off before they even finish a sentence. "Yeah, honey, that's nice...now have you brushed your teeth?"
Yesterday, Anwyn stood in the open doorway and just stared into the yard. We live in a small house cooled by window unit air conditioners and it takes approximately three minutes for all of the cool air to escape out the front door. I caught her in the corner of my eye and, slightly annoyed, started to call, "Anwyn, shut the door! You're letting all the cool air out!" But something in the way she stood, mesmerized, stopped me. In a moment, she shut the door and ran over to me with her eyes huge and shining.
"Mama, I saw a bird! There was a little baby bird in the yard!"
We see birds every day. I don't know why that particular one caught her attention, but I had almost killed the moment of child-wonder with my hasty words.
Bedtime can be craziness around here and often, exhausted from a long day and frazzled by the seemingly endless donning of pajamas, brushing of teeth, last drinks, story requests, food requests (really, you think we are going to let you eat graham crackers in bed at 10 p.m. ?) and other various and sundry stalling techniques, I am on a mission to get the lights OFF and collapse into a chair for a few moments of quiet.
But I've realized that bedtime is often when my children share their hearts. And if I rush the process, I miss that. When I stop, sit down on the bed for a moment and talk to them, listen to them, I learn things about them. Sometimes it is as simple as the fact that they would really like to watch Captain America tomorrow. But sometimes it's fears. Joys. Questions about their faith. Sometimes it's an unexpected "Mama, I just love you so much."
How many moments have I missed in the rush?
I'm re-resolving today to slow down. To stop. To listen. And to learn.