Every Friday I write a syndicated column that appears in a number of newspapers. Here's today's, and I hope you enjoy it!
Most of the really important moments in our lives happen by accident.
Some of these accidents have a negative connotation: she winds up pregnant; his car slams into a tree; he says something biting in the midst of a fight, and she never forgives him for it.
But accidents go the other way, too. A few years ago we were driving home from Ottawa when the sky suddenly darkened and the air began to vibrate. We pulled over, stepped out of the car, and looked up at thousands upon thousands of geese in V’s, honking as they headed south. We watched, in silence, in awe of nature. I’ll never forget it.
I still remember, too, the last time one of my children fell asleep in my arms, or when, as toddlers, they hugged me and said, “I’m so glad you’re my mommy.” I also recall the first conversation I ever had with Rebecca. Only four months of age, she was lying on a playmat, peering at me intensely and cooing. I would reply, pause, and then she would begin again, kicking her little legs as she “talked”. She kept up her end for quite some time. She told me she loved me, and I reciprocated.
I even fell in love by accident. Keith was my best friend for a year first, and one day, as we were walking, I realized we were more than that. I told him, and he eventually realized it, too, even if he took longer to admit it to himself. But it all started by accident.
We don’t tend to like accidents. We like goals, mission statements, and schedules. We like to know what’s going to happen, when, so we can be sure to pack for it. But what if some things can’t be scheduled? What if the beauty of life really is in the random moments that we share?
Yet are these moments completely random? After all, I couldn’t have fallen in love with my husband if I hadn’t been spending hours and hours with him, just talking. I couldn’t have had that conversation with my baby daughter if I hadn’t been playing on the floor with her. And my daughter couldn’t have fallen asleep in my arms if we hadn’t spent time cuddling, for no reason. Accidents, in other words, take time. Lots and lots of it.
We may think quality time is better than quantity time, but that’s a crock. Let’s say that you decide that Tuesday afternoon you are going to dedicate to quality time with your children after school to connect with your monosyllabic-speaking teenager and your hyper preteen. If those children, however, have not shared with you in a while, they may not want to open up right then. They need time to process things before they talk. They need to trust you, and that only happens when you spend time with no agenda in mind except being with them.
Besides, often the funniest moments in our lives happen just because we’re together, hanging out in the same room when someone farts outrageously loudly by accident, or makes a really pithy retort to a telemarketer, or falls out of a chair. It’s these silly things that become family legend, but only because you were together to notice them.
Most good accidents occur on purpose. They happen because we stop spending so much time in front of the screen and start hanging out with those we love. They happen when we stop being so busy. They happen when we laugh together. So I want to leave room for accidents, because true memories are priceless. And that kind of beauty is better than anything I could have planned anyway.
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Labels: columns, parenting