I sat watching my 7-year-old as she gathered little leaflets and emptied the seeds into her hand. We were posted outside of the Junior High/High School waiting for her sisters to finish the school day. It was in the upper 90s so we moved to the passenger side of the car to avoid direct sunlight. My youngest decided the car was too hot altogether and asked if she could hang out in the grassy area next to the car. I sat in the passenger seat, not a place I'm in very often since I'm usually the main driver of the family, and observed as she first discovered the leaves, opened them to find the seeds, then began gathering as many as she could.
"Look, Mom, my hand is almost full," she held her hand out for me to see from her squatting position.
I smiled and kept looking as she quietly looked for more leaves and more seeds. She was entranced with this simple piece of nature and then, out of nowhere, a thought hit me. And I felt like crying. Not tears of sadness. The complete opposite. Reflecting on life and what matters is a rare occurrence. I use the excuse of being a busy mom and joke about
having one minute of reflecting time in the evening when the house is finally quiet but in all honesty, I don't actually take the time to sit quietly and just observe. Listen. Ponder. Pray. Watching without saying anything. Only communicating through gestures and facial expressions.
I've been a mother for 16 years and I never realized how quickly time would fly. My oldest will graduate from high school next year and the next two will follow fairly quickly. And soon my house will be empty. I want to enjoy what is here, right here, right now. I want to listen to my children laugh, play, tease, and yes, even cry. Because I am here for them.
Growing up in American Samoa, we had no choice but to leave the island if we wanted to attend a university. At the time, I was ready to leave and fly on my own. I was born and raised there only leaving a handful of times to visit the states. I wanted to experience life and be on my own. I never once thought how that would affect my mom. She actually encouraged me to stay for two years and go to the community college but I was not willing to listen. I wanted to be free! At the airport when I left for school, a good friend of mine whispered to me, "Could you at least squeeze out a couple of tears and don't look so happy to leave?" I never would have thought the next few times I visited home I would cry with a passion because I didn't want to leave. Is that what irony looks like?
Thinking about my own children, and watching them as they grow into amazing young ladies, I realize I need to take the time to watch and listen. Enjoy the simple wonders of life. Write everything down. So when the nest is empty, I can read and remember. Then call my kids and let them know that I love them. All day. Every day.