By Janaiah von Hassel
I’ve always loved the hum of summer. There is a certain unbridled liberation that fills the air. I adore the unexpected moments where a visit to a family member’s house turns into a cookout or even a slumber party. When a trip to the library becomes a day at the park, filled with adventure and friends. It seems the world opens up, if only a crack, to the notion of embracing the unexpected, allowing the flow of each day to carry us from one encounter to the next. Nothing begs us to come alive like a beautiful summer day, and if we allow it, we can often find great treasures in unexpected moments.
I enjoyed the article, “A Day in The Summer,” by Dr. Jeanne Ohm in Pathways to Family Wellness magazine. Many years ago, looking through a window watching her children play, Jeanne was able to seep up the essence of her children’s laughter and the pure, unencumbered innocence of their youth. Sharing that moment with us now, so many years later, she explains how the feeling remains as close today as it was then. In this article she quotes John Lennon. “Life is what happens to you, while you’re busy making other plans.” She encourages us younger parents to heed these words and give ourselves the gift of living in the full consciousness of these everyday moments.
It seems these words of wisdom are often passed to my generation. From the moment my first son was born many parents have said to me, “Cherish every moment.” “Blink and it’s gone.” “Live in the moment.” “Someday you’re going to miss this.” Sometimes they say it wistfully and heavy laden with regret. Other times I hear it said cheerfully from someone excited to see me embark on an adventure they treasure. I often envision myself after my children are grown and I wonder what will I miss the most? Sometimes I am so thick in the trenches of life that I wonder “am I REALLY going to miss THIS? How awful does it get if I should miss THIS!” Other times I feel the longing, which I know I’ll have, to hold my children safe in my arms and light their little faces with sheer happiness over the small and simple joys of life. I can imagine the day their laughter isn’t there to pull me out of a hurry and bring me back to the here and now. I hope by then, I’ve learned to live in the moment, because they are my greatest reminders to stop and smell the roses, or as my mother would say when I was young, “Stop and smell the weeds.”
My mother had seven children, myself being her favorite, of course. She has often shared her love for the days when we were all little and in one place; the days when we ran to her for every skinned knee and shared every laugh with her open heart. When I was still very young my mother wrote a poem “Stop and Smell the Weeds” that hangs in my house to this day. Now her words teach me the important lesson that her children taught her so many years ago.
Stop and Smell the Weeds
By Cherie Cail
Once upon an overwhelming very busy day
Annoyed, fatigued and occupied I didn’t even pray
My child brought some weeds for me and set them in a vase
Never did I stop with thanks but thought they took up space
Then many hours later, when there was no sound at all
The quiet night was still and I could see them standing tall
The weeds took on this beauty that warmed my hearts so deep
I knew that God had given me a treasure I could keep
This gift that I now understand holds rewarding thoughts indeed
It speaks the words “I love you Mommy” don’t despise the weed
When I’m writing, or working on the computer, my six-year-old son, Landon, will often sit on the chair next to me and with the intrigue and curiosity that only a child can exude he will say, “Mom, tell me everything you know.” It is a quote and picture in my mind that I hold dear in my heart, wrapped with love and saved for a day when I will reflect on the cherished moments of his youth. I will usually stop whatever I’m doing and begin to tell him something, anything, and with his expectant eyes he will gaze up at me, hanging on to each word I say. He will ask questions like “Mom, were you so happy when you had me? Tell me about that day.” I must have told him that story a thousand times, it’s one of his favorites.
Other times, my four-year-old son Corbin will snap me out of what seems a most important moment where I absolutely must do what MUST be done. Corbin has a way of being relentless; never accepting the importance of unimportant matters. His calm disregard for the frivolous things in life is often attributed to his autism but is in fact his gift of ALWAYS being present, and never allowing anyone into his world who is not capable of doing the same. His gentle hand will pull me from the web of busyness I’ve created in my day and lead me to a silent place where he will stick his little feet in my face letting me know it’s time for a tickle. His laugh brings me back to life, to the real and present moment, which is the only place that life can truly be lived from.
Children are truly a gift, and that gift is their ability to see beauty in the weeds, and to share that beauty with us. My children remind me to give up business for liveliness. They remind me that life is in the journey and not the destination.
We are always growing and evolving, and over the past few months I have felt such an incredible shift in my life allowing me to truly be present. Yes, there are many times that I ignore my children’s invitation to be carefree, to live in the moment, to let go of the need to be busy, but more and more I am learning to say YES!
One day I will meet a young mother hurried by the day, overwhelmed in the moment, and stressed by the nonsense of life, and I will remember the beautiful lesson she is learning as a mother. I will tell her to “cherish every moment,” not from a place of romanticizing, but from the wisdom of those who truly grasp the beauty in a vase of weeds.