When things get really tough – Finding Magic Moments in Life

Eiffel towerIn response to recent events in Paris, we are all looking for goodness in the world.  I discussed a viral video with one of my best friends and she graciously offered to write another guest piece about finding magic moments with your kids.  You can read her first guest piece here.

Sónia Scott says…

Recently, a viral video touched me in just this way. After the recent attacks in Paris, a young boy and his father were being interviewed on the street, in a crowd seemingly uninterested or noticing of this triad, with a memorial of candles and flowers just behind them. [Aside: I implore you to view it and share it- ad nauseam.] In a moment of tragedy, this child learned France was his home, bad guys were everywhere, and flowers protect you. This was a magic moment. It was not scripted. It was simultaneously heart wrenching and beautiful. I am honored to have witnessed it- even virally.

Magic moments can happen anytime, anywhere. However, I believe that their impact is strongest in time of change. It is that time where the story and the connection come together in such a way where you know you are literally growing stronger. Furthermore, I would argue that you could create more magic moments in your life by living it with an open heart. Before I became a parent, I often experienced these moments while working with young bereaved children in a camp I volunteer with, with my therapeutic clients, occasionally within my personal relationships. Now, I encourage them often and search them out more.

Magic moments in parenting happen. Think of the moment when you are running late, you can’t find your car keys, your elderly dog just ruined your new rug with his vomit… again, and your sweet cherub of a child has been replaced with a manipulative little monster who clearly does NOT understand the language you speak and is determined to make your life difficult today…. Well, this is your version of the story. There are 2 ways to react, which I will refer to as 1) get shit done or 2) let life happen.

Get shit done is when you decide you have had enough. You cannot be late again, and you are determined to take control. You quickly pat the dog on the head (because they always look so damn guilty) and clean up his mess in one fell swoop, put your kid in a time out, and listen to his screams while you retrace your steps only to find your keys just under the purse you had placed on your countertop a few moments earlier. Kid stops crying. Pouts in the car, and is clearly just being a brat as he storms off into his classroom. Then, you go about your day until it starts all over again in the morning.

Let life happen is when you decide to center yourself in the moment. You take a breath or two… or twelve. You kneel in front of your child, and calmly ask him to breathe with you until he is calm enough to communicate his concerns. You listen. You do not reprimand. You do not correct. You REALLY listen (with an open heart). He explains he was scared when the dog was sick and wondered if he would be OK all by himself while you and your husband were at work and he was at school. He wanted to know if you could all be home together and take care of the dog… because he is so old and lonely.

And so commences the magic moment when you see your cherub and you are reinvigorated to lead with an open heart. The words you choose are less important than the message. The message is: life will be difficult, but I will listen and comfort you even when I, too, am scared. Inspiring magic moments means leading with an open heart and all it invokes: love, honesty, and support.

When my now nearly 3 year old was about 18 months old, we often had difficult moments. He has walked since he was 10 months old, and has rarely stopped running since. When he is tired or hungry, he shuts down. Many a time, I have felt defeated and depleted because I didn’t listen to his cues and pushed the limits of what I know are his sleep and hunger needs. We had just left Target and I realized I had picked up the wrong size diapers and needed to exchange them. Lunch/nap time were fast approaching.

There are two choices. I initially chose the path of “get shit done” and it was a devastatingly poor choice. I was sweating and disheveled very soon after, and my son was now rolling around on the filthy carpeted store floor at the front of the customer service line which seemed to go on for days (or this is what it felt like anyway). I was failing. He would soon completely melt down and I would have to get out of the line and calm him down. There would be no diapers, but there will be an even more tired and hungrier child.

Then, I chose “let life happen.” I remember closing my eyes for a second taking a few breaths. I thought about the sweet boy who was currently obsessed with penguins. The sweet boy who I gently cuddled while reading several penguin books we picked up at the library just the day before. “Hey, Buddy! Wanna play a game? Let’s pretend we’re emperor penguins!” We spent the next 15 minutes waddling in tandem. He stood on my feet and held onto me wrapping his arms behind my knees as though he were my little emperor penguin egg. We laughed together. We asked questions. We played. And suddenly, we were being attended to by costumer service for the exchange. It was incredible! But, this was not my magic moment. The magic moment came as I was leaving the building when an older mother with 4 adolescents/teens in tow suddenly grabbed my arm and said, “You are so amazing with him. He is lucky to have you.” My reply was simple. “I am the lucky one.”

Parenting is hard. REALLY really hard. I do not care what you do for a living. From engineer to surgeon. Parenting (when done right) is still very hard. The stakes are high. But I have learned the return is simply immeasurable.

In reality, we don’t have the time nor the peace of mind to have magic moments all of the time. They are precious because they are not constant. However, you can encourage more in your life by living with an open heart, which includes reaching out to the parent who you just witnessed doing it right. Be inspired by it. Model it. Lead with an open heart and your magic moments will follow.

Thank you, to the father of this young child, for allowing the world to share in your magic moment.

#Je suis Paris.


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