Recently my grandbaby sat in a highchair for the first time. I snapped a photo and sent it to his dad.
He texted back, “My heart needs a break!!”
I thought, “Hold on tight baby boy. That feeling never goes away.”
The saying goes, “Being a parent is like watching your heart walk around outside your body,” but it’s more than that. It’s a constant feeling that life is happening at warp speed and you’re desperate to find the pause button. Except for those days following sleepless nights, if only those days would speed quickly by so you could catch a few hours of precious sleep then things could slow down again, but even those days are treasured in hindsight.
Being a parent is having your heart stretched wider and wider. It’s thinking you couldn’t possibly love someone more and the next moment you realize in fact you do. It’s a constant opening and growing, not always of our own choosing. Seldom is there time to relax comfortably in the space of our growth before the next life event happens. One day you’re holding this helpless little human and the next day he’s sitting in a highchair and banging his spoon on the table.
Precious moments come and go and you will your brain to remember them all. The way his little body curls around my middle when he falls asleep in my lap. The pudge of his checks and the rolls on his thighs, the feel of his little hands when he grabs my face and plants an open mouth slobbery kiss on my checks, that flirty little smile as he pulls away and laughs, all of it you hope to remember in detail but deep down realize you won’t. Perhaps we aren’t meant to.
Imagine if we were capable of storing every little detail, our minds would soon become too cluttered with the past to be present in the now and what a shame that would be. Imagine a home overfilled with stuff, floor to ceiling stacks of memorabilia, shelves piled high with papers, pictures, trophies, magazines and newspapers all saved in an effort not to forget some special moment in the past. Eventually, the home becomes so filled with things there is no space left to enjoy the company of people, to sit and talk, to laugh and play, no space for living, only space for holding memories. Occasionally, our homes need to be de-cluttered so we have room to make new memories. Perhaps our minds are like this too.
With age, I’ve come to know the reality that I will not remember every little detail and so I find myself slowing down, listening harder, noticing more. In the moment, I am more present because I understand that I won’t be able to easily retrieve these memories in years to come. The present moment is a gift that will only be unwrapped once and I want to savor every layer of its essence, immersing myself in its beauty, and living only in the now of it all. I believe being fully present has the power to transform mental memory into soul memory. What my mind may not remember, my soul will never forget. Years from now, I may not remember the words that were spoken but I will know the love that was shared because I sat quietly with my heart open wide and allowed it to soak deeply into my soul. This is as close to a pause button as you’re ever going to find.