I work hard to be present in the lives of my kids. It’s not always easy – there’s a million tempting distractions. But time is of the essence. As life charges full speed ahead (it’s exhausting just trying to keep up with them) I’ve still got a job to do.
Yesterday morning I was blessed with a reminder of why this is so important.
I have always chosen to park the van and walk the kids to their classrooms. I love it when they grab my hand in the parking lot and the hallway. I love kissing and hugging them goodbye at their lockers. I love interacting with their friends; seeing if I can find the right joke to make them forget about their tired shyness and make them smile.
This year, however, the school has moved to a new location. Our commute has doubled to 20 minutes without traffic, parking is not at all convenient, and if I leave the school too late I get stuck in rush-hour traffic on my way home. For all of these reasons, I have been considering using the drop-off lane. Kissing the kids at the curb. Letting them walk in on their own.
I shared these thoughts with the kids a few days ago.
“No Momma! We love it when you walk us in!” Sydney and Taylor both agreed.
“Mommy! It’s my last year of elementary school,” Gabe argued. “You have to walk me in.”
“Well, let’s just consider it as an option,” I encouraged them.
“Mommy?” Taylor inquired. “What if we forget to kiss you at the car? Would you come in our classroom and steal smooches like you always do if we forget?”
“Ummmm…yeah!” I playfully reprimanded her.
I heard whispers at the table. Then giggles. Then high-fives were shared amongst all three kids.
“Hey!” I scolded. “You can’t forget to kiss me on purpose just so I have to come in!”
They threw their heads back with evil little belly laughs. “Aw, man! How did you know?” Taylor giggled.
“I know your tricks!” I taunted her.
I stopped and smiled. One of those God-I-love-them-more-than-life-itself kind of smiles. Where my eyes well up just briefly, and my chest heaves from the overflow of love that’s gushing through my heart.
A couple of days later, we were late getting to school. If I dropped them off, they had a better chance of not being counted tardy. If I wasted time to park, they were flirting with the bell.
“Guys, Mommy’s gonna drop you off at the curb today so you’re not late, okay?” I warned them.
“Okay,” they all agreed with disappointed voices. They do not like to be late, so they understood it was necessary. I was secretly relieved. Now I’d have a better chance of avoiding traffic on the way home.
“Look, Mommy!” Gabe shouted with excitement from the back seat. “A spot by the front door just opened up! It’s perfect!” he said.
Ugh. That was my first thought. I sighed. “Okay, but get ready to hop out right away!” I urged.
And then it happened.
When we reached the girls lockers, which are right across the hall from one another, Gabe stopped too. “Goodbye, Momma. I’ll hug you here so you don’t have to walk all the way down the hall for me,” he said with compassion. He put his arms around my neck and kissed me. Then hugged me. Then kissed me again.
“Bye Buddy,” I said. “I love you.”
“I love you too. Thanks for walking us in,” he smiled and walked away.
“You’re welcome,” I said to his back, so grateful that he’d found the perfect parking spot.
I smiled with contentment as I redirected my attention to his little sisters. Sydney had just closed her locker door, ready to start the day. I leaned down for her kiss, but she rushed past me in the opposite direction of her classroom. “Sydney! Where are you going? You’re gonna be late!” I reminded her with impatience.
“Hang on, Momma! I’ve got to say goodbye to Taylor,” she said as she stood next to her twin sister, who was still unloading her backpack into her locker.
A few seconds later, Taylor stood up, shut her locker door, and faced Sydney. “Bye Sissy,” Sydney said to her favorite person in the whole wide world. Taylor smiled, gave her identical twin sister a hug and a kiss, and then hurried into her classroom.
I watched with wonder. That. That right there is why I will continue to walk them into school. So that I am present for those special moments. The moments they don’t even know I’m watching. The moments I will never, ever forget.
Sydney hurried toward me. “Bye, Momma! Love you!” she kissed me so fast she almost missed my face.
“Bye, Baby!” I said, as her pig-tails bounced away before disappearing into her classroom.
Then I looked for Taylor. That little shit. I chuckled as I barged into her classroom, not caring if the bell was going to ring while I was in there or not.
“Hey, Missy! Where’s my smooch?” I pretended to be annoyed.
“I guess you’re gonna have to steal one!” Taylor giggled sheeplishly, as she looked at her friends like her Mom was a crazy woman. They laughed along with her as I stole yet another smooch from my happy little girl.
As I sat in traffic on the way home, I realized I was no longer in a rush. I was happy to spend the time reflecting on my morning with the kids. I was so grateful for the reminder to continue to be present. Because when I am present, I am happy. And so are my children.