Those Life Moments: The Love Moments

7:28 PMHeather

She was angry.  We were sitting all around the table--our family and my sister's family, visiting from out-of-state.  Laughing.  Hysterically. Playing a game.  She and her cousin, the same age, had finally joined in after playing something else on their own.  Of all the genetic tendencies I've passed on, being highly competitive is one I'm not so proud to claim.  When I see it rear its ugly head in an over-the-top fashion, as happens with the immaturity of childhood, I flinch.  Because I remember.  Vividly.  Like it was yesterday. Because it's burned in my memory.  

I was about 13.  Old enough to know better.  It was one of the few times when I can recall playing games with my maternal grandparents during a holiday visit.  We were playing Trivial Pursuit. I can't recall what didn't go my way.  I completely recall my sharp and escalating response as the disagreement ensued.  And my gregarious grandfather standing up, looking over at me, and pointing at me as he refused to keep playing with "a bad sport like me."

I was ashamed.  He was right, of course, in theory.  I deserved to be  corrected.  But I never completely shook that shame.  I carried the stigma of it for years.  When I played board games.  When I wondered if that is why we never played games together again (not that we had much before that day).  When Poppy handed me a fresh deck of airline cards that he got from his frequent travels.  I'd wonder if my face was obviously flush because my mind was racing back to my poor sportsmanship.  My outburst.  And my grandfather's reaction to it.  Although he never referred to it ever again.

When she became angry last night, I honestly wasn't thinking about that incident nearly 30 years ago.  I was just thinking about her late nights and fatigue and understanding why she was sharply defending herself.  I was in the middle of the game myself, enjoying my extended family.  Tired, too.  So, I decided it was time for her to go to bed.  Past time. Just time to end the day.  The declaration brought loud sobs and tears.  And she jumped up and threw herself on the couch.  

I sat in my chair at the table with the family, with her sobbing just a few feet away.  We all sorta moved on and ignored it.  Honestly, I wish I could take credit and sound all super spiritual and Super Mom and say that I had a moment of epiphany.  That I remembered my own outburst playing games and I recognized the significance of the moment with my own daughter.  That I saw the fork in the road and made a deliberate choice.

I didn't.

I just wanted to go soothe her to quiet her sobs and get her moved upstairs toward bed. So that we could get on with our game.

I stood up and sat next to her, leaning down to whisper to her that she just needed to go get some sleep.  I made it clear the decision was final.  

She trudged up the stairs, looking mournfully back over her shoulder at the game still in full swing.  Without her.  

I turned to come back to my seat.  After a few minutes, I thought I should go make sure she was indeed getting into bed.  

It was when I came upstairs and saw her sad face that I felt that tiny nudge.  You know--the one that you so easily ignore when you are distracted and looking at your phone or in the midst of a task.  Or, the one you act like you didn't feel because you are just too darn tired yourself.  It's so inconvenient to listen and stop and follow that instinct to connect with your child and set your own personal feelings and agenda aside.  

I really didn't stop and think, "Oh.  My word for the year is love.  I should stop and convey love to this poor, tired child."

I just fell into her bed next to her, eager to soothe her angst.  She asked if we could do the next devotion in the new Mother/Daughter Devotion book by Dannah Gresh that she got for Christmas. I started to say no.  (Insert my best whiny voice here declaring my own fatigue and desire to rejoin the game below).

I agreed to her request.  I mean, really.  Who can say no to the Bible?  She really wasn't using it as a stall tactic.  Her voice conveyed a genuine desire to dive into the book.  So we did.  And we giggled.  And we read and prayed.  And before we turned off her light, she was content.  Calm.  And I felt like a champion.

Because it hit me.  It felt at the time as though it all just sorta happened.  It wasn't a deliberate attempt to choose love over my convenience.  It just worked out that way.  

As I mulled it over again, later that night, I realized something.  The evening, for my daughter, could have been history repeating itself.  It could have been something that her mind lingered on, long after everyone else forgot.  It could have been a memory she blogs about in 30 years.  Or whatever modern social media thing exists in the year 2044.

But, it wasn't.  Score one point for the home team.  

Because it was just a little life moment.  Just a little hiccup in the road.  And I did make a choice at one point to linger with her.  To convey her importance.  To help her go to sleep with a smile on her face instead of a frown.  To make bedtime more than a quick good-night and I love you followed by a super fast prayer.  Like I tend to do.  Because I'm so tired I don't want to belabor the point. I want to hurry up and start that brainless time between the kids' bedtime and my own.

Upon reflection, I am glad for the choice I made.  It wasn't a big deal, really.  But, if I can listen more intuitively, past my own agenda and distractions, and really hear what my kids need, then maybe, just maybe I can dive deeper into this journey to love well. To choose love.

In those tiny little life moments, love can bloom.  And the life moments can become love moments.  That feed a child's soul. Not to mention her mama.

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