September 16, 2014

Trust the Joy

I looked at the clock and realized I had less than an hour before my kids would crash through the door after school, so I did what any mom in her right mind would do: I made myself a horrendously large cup of chocolate milk.

There's no one here to cry foul, no one to monitor my syrup usage, and no one to whom I must explain my actions. How is it more parents don't do this?

On the one hand, I could see it as selfishness cropping up where I should have learned selfLESSness by now. I prefer to see it as evidence of my having kept the heart of child.

Have you forgotten? Do you remember the delight if your mom broke the rules and let you have ice cream for breakfast? Or a candy lunch? Or deciding to have the family eat supper in the blanket tent you made in the living room? Do you remember the fascination of seeing something with new eyes and wondering EVERYTHING about it? You had no stored knowledge or ready reference for what was in front of you, so you tried to absorb everything you could about it, whether it was a flower, a new person who was funny, a new story, or a fascinating bug on the sidewalk at your feet. You'd even crouch down, push closer, and squeeze in so you could see better, absorb more.

Have you forgotten?

Where is your joy these days? Is it joy you feel when you complete a job that's been hanging over your head? Is it a joy to see someone catch a spark you lit in hope? Is it delight you feel when you're fully present, all-the-way-up-to-your-elbows in and focused on whatever's before you? Are you able to set aside your to-dos to be fascinated by what you thought was familiar when it shows up on the wrong timetable and out of place? Can you set aside your tasks and grant the time for questions to come? What is that? Why does it look/taste/smell/feel/behave that way? How does it react if you touch it? chase it? try to hold it? How does it change?

It takes time for the questions to come if it's been a while since you gave them the space to form.

If the questions feel silly or hard to force, be near a child and be willing to listen. They ask questions as simply as breathing. The questions may seem ridiculous to an adult mind, but if you're willing to wait and ponder the question, you might remember...

You might remember how hard it was to wait. You might remember the breath-taking wonder the first time you saw someone turn a balloon into the shape you requested. You just might remember how important and sincere your question was and how it hurt when the adults just laughed instead of answering. If you're willing to push into the struggles of memories from your childhood, and you're willing to stay in the frustration a while, you might get back the joy.

The joy of finding out there's no school today because of the snow that made your mom's shoulders slump. The joy of finding your very favorite book is back on the library shelf, even if you've read it so many times you have it memorized; you remember how familiar things can be as wonderful as finding old friends. You'll get back the joy and relaxing feeling of comfort that came from burying your nose in a favorite blanket or pillow or stuffed friend. You might even get back the hedonistic joy of gulping down a carafe of chocolate milk without any grown-ups finding out you did it.

And getting back these joys is worth whatever price you might have to pay.
Now please excuse me. I need to go gulp my milk in less than 10 minutes!

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