Treasuring the gift of our children.
Parenting is comprised of ordinary and extraordinary moments of connection and growth as I try my best to love, help and treasure my children. There are so many defining moments of parenting; moments that can uplift us and transform us if we hold onto them. Here are four precious moments that changed me.
1. The moment I decided to listen.
A teacher called and informed me that my daughter had come late to class and she didn’t explain why. When my daughter came home that day, I wanted to cross-examine her. Why? Where were you? What’s wrong with you?
I took one look at my daughter and I knew she needed me to listen, not talk. That’s how I found out that she was late for class because she was comforting a sobbing friend, and she didn’t tell the teacher in order to protect her friend’s privacy. In that moment, I listened and truly heard my child’s voice.
2. The moment I loved the blue hat.
I’ve always liked my children to be well-dressed and put together. When we had three daughters under the age of three, we had dozens of matching outfits with coordinating headbands to go with them. But one summer, my two-year-old daughter put on a denim hat with a big pink flower from the dress up box and she absolutely refused to take it off. I thought about throwing it away when she went to sleep. I thought about bribing her. I tried to talk her into at least once a week putting on the beautiful, white headband that matched her Shabbos dress.
One afternoon, sitting on the park bench as my daughters climbed up the ladder to the slide, I saw three perfectly matched little girls with one of them laughing as she climbed, the big blue hat perched above her blonde ponytail. And I knew at that moment that I would not ask her to take off the hat again. In that moment, I loved the denim hat with the huge pink flower because my daughter loved it. It was beautiful because she is beautiful.
That moment I let go of how I wanted my child to look and cared only about how she felt. Climbing the ladder with the sun behind her, her smile was more perfect than any outfit could have possibly been.
3. The moment I said thank You.
You would think that the moment my first child was born would have been one of the most grateful moments of my life, but that’s not the moment that stands out in my mind. The most grateful parenting moment I can remember was the first time that baby learned to walk and fell backwards onto her head. Those frightening, painful seconds when time slowed down as I tried to catch her and couldn’t, and that moment afterwards when I held her as she cried and realized that despite the bump on her head, she was fine.
Thank You, God! This moment has been replayed countless times every time when my children fall or get hurt or have fever in the middle of the night. It reminds me how blessed I am to have healthy children and how dependent I am on the One who protects them.
4. The moment I stopped for the sunset.
When our daughters were little they used to take ballet and the class ended right before dinner time when their baby brother was getting cranky and homework still loomed on the horizon. Week after week, I would pick them up for class and rush home.
One week, one of my daughters gazed out the window and said, “Ima, look at the sun! It’s painting the sky!”
Through the haze of my to-do list running through my head, I looked. The sun was sinking into the mountains, setting the sky on fire with color. I hesitated for a moment and then I pulled over to a cluster of rocks off the road. I took all of my children out of the car and we sat together watching the sun set into the horizon. And every week after that moment, we went right from ballet class to our spot to watch the sunset.
I’ll never forget the wonder reflected in my children’s eyes and the awe I felt as I watched them in those moments when I stopped for the sunset.
These moments of parenting are precious gifts that I treasure. Every day I thank God. In my children, I can see His light.
Sara Debbie Gutfreund (Aish.com)