I abhor everything seafood. And yet the pungent stench of dead fish didn’t have the power to assault my senses. The view was breathtaking. This first-time experience had me spelled bound – I was standing at the end of a wooden pier – the ocean to my right, a river to the left. I was fascinated by the chasm between what was going on on either side of me. Calm-reckless, loud-soft, sand-land, rough-smooth, - all I had to do is turn hundred and eighty degrees to experience a different world. I’m not sure if I can remember the last time I was so spellbound. I wanted time to stand still so I could savor this experience. My perception of life and the world around me was being deeply impacted – just like the birth of my two children. And then it hit me – Missy and Chad are as enormously different as the personalities of the river and the ocean. So often in life, we wish time away, especially when parenting becomes choppy and rough. I wondered if my children’s playbook would read differently today if I had taught myself to slow down and to look for opportunities in the middle of the ugliness to understand that my children were masterpieces in progress. They needed my patience and attention instead of my attempts to make time evaporate. The fact is that in each phase of our children’s lives there are some unique tensions that will want to tempt us to pull our hair out, but they exist to spur own physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual growth.
As I was reflecting on this thought, I caught a glimpse of unusual shapes in the water. Soon I realized that I was watching a small pod of dolphins, playing in the sunshine. I was beyond thrilled! I grabbed my cell phone to capture them and to my dismay realized that I was not ready for the moment I was anticipating since I arrived in Florida. My phone only had 2% battery life left. Now I was stressed by having to figure out how to cautiously use my phone. I tried to discern if they had a rhythm that would allow me to capture them just as they danced to the surface. I believed I had it figured out – I was poised to capture them – alas after two missed attempts, with my phone dying, I got a very poor picture of one dolphin’s fin re-entering the waters. Hindsight- I should have forfeited my need to take a picture to enjoy what was unfolding in front of me. It instantly changed my experience and added stress. I know better... the lens of our mind is a far better place to capture memories than the lens of our camera. Significant moments are truly unpredictable. I remember being disappointed when I missed my children’s firsts - I wasn’t there when Chad took his first step or when Missy lost her first tooth… It does require us to be ‘present’ in the insignificant moments to be ‘ready’ to capture the significant moments. The best way to capture the dolphins playing would have been to continuously shoot pictures in hopes of capturing the right moment. Our children and playing dolphins have a lot in common. Besides both being unpredictable, dolphins move fast, kids grow up fast! If we want to experience the extraordinary with our children we need to increase the quantity of time we have with them.
So what can you do to be more predictable with the time you spend with your children so you’re ready to capture the unpredictable – breath-taking moments in them?