Last night I went into my son’s room and while he was sleeping, I curled him up in my arms and just started crying. Why? Because he turned 3 last week.
We spent the full weekend celebrating; different family members visited with gifts and cake and I threw him a little party at his school. It was a fun and busy weekend extended by the holiday weekend. As exhausting as it was, I didn’t take the moment to reflect on the fact that in the blink of an eye, my son turned 3.
And so last night I had time to register it all, and I grieved. I grieved the fact that it is right now that he will probably love and like me the most in his life. I grieved that right now he wants nothing more than to stay home and play cars and legos with mommy. I grieved that when he eats a meal, he wants me to sit as close to his high chair so that between bites he could put one arm around my shoulder. I grieved that whenever he gets hurt the first thing he does, even before registering the pain or welling up tears, is look for mommy or daddy so we can kiss his “aiyah” and give him the extra coddling he’s seeking. I grieved that when I go into his room in the morning and I turn on the light, no matter how deep in sleep he is, he blinks open his eyes so excited and ready to start the day with our ritual of cuddles and hugs under his blanket. I grieved that whenever he feels hurt or sad or embarrassed he immediately extends his arms out to me so he can shake off these feelings into my arms… even if I’m the one that caused it.
And I grieved the countless hours I spent looking at my phone instead of his glowing face. I grieved the times I tried to rush him out the door. I grieved the times I was too tired to play and just asked if he wanted to watch mindless tv. I grieved that often times he’s eating breakfast alone, waiting for me, while I’m running around the kitchen getting other meals ready. I grieved that when I wake up late, I tried to skip out on our morning cuddles. I grieved the times I tried to steal away opportunities from him trying to do something on his own because I didn’t have the patience.
I grieved the moment he will prefer to play with his friends instead of mommy. I grieved that one day he’d rather jet off in a car away from me than play cars with me. I grieved the future where he will ask me to hurry up because he has important places to be and not enough time to slow down with this old lady. I grieved the future reality when he feels pain or sadness and doesn’t trust me to be the one to make all things better. I grieved the day he packs up his stuff and walks out the door to a destination still unknown. I grieved the upcoming mornings when he will ignore me as I try to wake him up, because the excitement to cuddle with me no longer exists.
And I wallowed for a few minutes trying to not wake him up with my sniffles. I pulled him in close and I prayed over him. Then I prayed over myself. That yes, these moments I cherish so much will one day end. One day I won’t be his best friend. One day he will leave home. One day I won’t be there. But today is today and I can choose to grieve, wallow, and rush through the moments or I can choose a different way. I can choose to be present in the moment instead of letting the moment be robbed by my grieving. I can choose to enjoy the ups and downs and even the tantrums by recognizing that these moments will pass, without anxiously dwelling on their passing. I can choose to not rush, not hit snooze, not be impatient and offer myself little self care and instead choose to make time and space for myself so I can actively enjoy my 3 year old and my 3 year old can enjoy me… in every moment. So I shrugged off the sadness and began to pray to be the best version of myself; I prayed to have the wisdom and courage to pursue that and be that.
This morning in my quiet time while rocking my other little one in my lap, I developed my own journal activity. I created a list of what I believe develops the best version of myself. Here’s a short snippet:
- in pursuit of my spiritual growth, in pursuit of the living watering
- actively choosing hope and trust… and endurance (more on this to come)
- feeding my creativity – drawing, writing, reading
- releasing and receiving love – especially via physical touch
- not rushed and not hitting snooze through my day
- getting in vitamin D!
- being present and not in my phone
- in conversation with others – from the trivial jokes to the deep heart string conversations
- mentally stimulated and challenged
- exercise and veggies (I’m basically a Ron Swanson)
I wrote out my list and instead of putting it away, feeling accomplished and done and moving on to more screen time, I then went after it. I set up some screen time limits on my phone. I put on some worship music then began to draw through my prayers. I snuggled my 7 week old babyhong2 and gave some extra kisses to my dogs (which they enjoyed heavily). I breathed in the moment knowing that the next 3 years will probably pass just as quickly, if not quicker. I switched my emotion from panic and sadness that the years are short, to excitement that I have a lifetime to learn to be the best of me for the people around me. And so I began to cultivate the best version of myself .
What cultivates the best version of yourself?