Steven R. Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, wrote that one should “begin with the end in mind”. He said, something to the effect of, think about your funeral and what you would like people to say about you and work to make that happen. The funeral idea is. . .is. . . well, do I really need to explain? It’s too close to home, enough said.
I prefer to imagine my life through my children’s eyes. What will they remember about their childhood, which I have a large role in shaping.
Lately as I return from my bike rides, my youngest, Peter, who is three, greets me at the door. “Hat! Hat!” He says reaching out to me with a smile. Then I take off my bike helmet and put it on his head. He loves hats so he is thrilled. I am thrilled because I love the idea that he might remember me, with a bit of pride, as some sort of an athlete, something I never before imagined for myself.
Yesterday we went Letterboxing, Peter and next to youngest, Brigham, who is seven, happily ran up and down the trail. I imagined the whole experience through their eyes. Not just the wonder of the forest, but the joy of family time.
Along the trail, there was a plaque with this quote, “I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. . .what business have I in the woods, if I am thinking of something out of the woods.” Henry David Thoreau
Experiencing the woods with a child, keeps you in the woods in spirit.
One trail we followed had a lot of tree roots to step over. Peter was having a hard time managing that and fell several times. He is tough, independant child though, so he would just get up and go again. If he stops for cuddles, I look for blood. This is why I was so touched by an incident that happened later. Brigham got caught by a branch and hurt his leg. It was minor, but Brigham wasn’t convinced yet that it was minor, so he was sitting on the trail pondering his “owie”. Peter ran over to him, squatted down in that adorable way three-year-olds do and looked at the leg, and then gave Brigham a big hug. Awww, precious.
These things are magical to me, because my own childhood memories are complicated. My parents loved me and did their best, but their parenting efforts were limited by their alcoholism. As you can imagine, the alcohol taints everything. Seeing my own children have such a happy and relatively carefree childhood is very healing for me.
Getting back to looking at my life through my children’s eyes, there are times when I look through their eyes and cringe. I see myself tired and grumpy and I think, “oh, I hope THIS is not what they remember!” Of course, that kind of thinking reminds me to take a “mom time-out”. There is a fine line between correction/discipline and cranky mom. I try not to cross that line too often. Sometimes I see myself very busy and realize I need to stop and take time for them. Yesterday was one of those days. We put the packing aside (we’re moving, but just a couple miles from where we live now), and went “out to play”.
Thoreau had it right, not just about the woods. Life can be stressful and hectic. Quite often, my life feels more like zipping down a freeway than a peaceful walk in the woods. But as Thoreau said I am alarmed when it happens that I have passed another week of my life without getting there in spirit because I was too caught up in the day to day details to see the big picture, or the things that matter. What business have I living day to day without appreciating the wonders that are here, the fantastic little people that share my life, my adoring husband, my God, my job which is both trying and rewarding.
Seeing my life through my children’s eyes, helps me be here everyday “in spirit”.