Watching my daughter grow, I have marvelled at the way she has taught me to re-live life, not in the hurried, time-crazed, list-making, methodical manner that has become the way of the parent; it is in the unhurried, free, languid, pausing-to-smell-the-rain way that is the way of every living being.
In the summer of 2010, Gy and I took a trip across the seas. We were visiting family in the United States and it was a pleasure to let loose and abandon oneself to the joys of doing nothing. Almost every weekend was spent in a mesmerising trip to a children’s museum, or a bus tour of a great city or a visit to the local zoo or a kayak ride down by an Ohio river.
Of these, Gy took equal pleasure in an activity like sliding down rides in the neighbourhood park or the thrilling activity of feeding ducks in the open zoo. As I look through the camera roll of our trip, the striking feature in every photograph is the unadulterated happiness one can see on her face.
This got me thinking: Why is it that adults tend to lose touch with this incredible feeling called happiness? Are we so bound by the constraints of schedules and rules that we quite forget to enjoy the things that really matter? Or is it that we simply choose to let the ‘living’ be done by our children?
As Gy grew from an infant to a toddler to a confident little lady, there was one thing that remained more or less constant- she would cherish the idea of seeing my face, first thing in the morning. I would wait for her to crawl out of bed, sleepy-eyed, rubbing her hair, brushing it out of her eyes and grinning at me in that mesmerising way, as she half-walked and half-ran into my outstretched arms for a hug and a kiss.
I was deeply moved by an article I read on the Hands Free Mama blog, on how important it is to pause and let life be lived. Coincidentally, the article came to my notice at the same time that I was undergoing a personal challenge- one which involved me yelling less at my daughter. The outcome of this was the overturning of many preconceptions regarding my parenting skills.
Suddenly, the world seemed to pause and slow down. There was no need for me to finish that pile of laundry right away- I could wait to do it, while listening to Gy tell me about the joke her pottery teacher had cracked in school. All those dishes which needed to be stacked back in their shelves- those could be done while Gy sat in her little, red chair and with sparkling eyes, sang the new ‘friendship’ song she had learnt in school.
Oh, and how about that article that simply has to be submitted by the 6 pm deadline? Well, let’s just say, deadlines can wait. But, time spent on a patio, marvelling at the flock of pigeons feasting on those tiny seeds, now that needs to be cherished together and if there is one person you don’t want to keep waiting, that’s your ‘ living- life- to- the- fullest’ child.