It turns out that a person doesn’t necessarily need to be able to speak coherent sentences to be an effective tutor. Case in point: the pint-sized spit-up machine who is currently teaching me that sometimes being is better than doing.
I am a planner by nature. I like to make lists and, even better, cross things out. I enjoy the anticipation of thinking ahead…dreaming and scheming for tomorrow or next week or next month.
But when your schedule revolves around a twelve-pound person who can’t think about the future beyond I’m hungry, I’m sleepy, or I’m poopy, planning ceases to be very effective. You don’t know if the baby will nap (or for how long). You don’t know if he’ll wake up smiley or moody or you’d-better-hold-me-or-I-will-scream-like-a-banshee.
And so my tutor reminds me that sometimes we need to set the to-do list aside. Perhaps that’s one of the things children know that we grown-ups have forgotten: we can’t live in the future. We have only been given today. Children (and those with childlike hearts) have a way of inviting us—practically daring us—into the sacred now.
My little guy wordlessly tells me what God has been trying to say to me all along: that while there’s merit to hard work, it doesn’t define me. My worth isn’t predicated on my productivity. My identity isn’t determined by the number of things I crossed off (or didn’t cross off) my to-do list.
In the quiet hours of the night, after my little one is full and content, I sometimes hold him for an extra moment before stumbling back to bed. I marvel at the way he nestles perfectly into me, with his head tucked under my chin and his limbs curled up against me. I’m all too aware, the second time around this parenting rodeo, that he won’t fit there for long. I’ll blink and his arms and legs won’t fit on my lap. I’ll turn my head for a moment and he will be much too sophisticated to snuggle with his mama.
And so I try to soak in the moments as they come. Not every moment, because heaven knows it’s only possible to savor things one drop at a time, not when they come in a virtual tsunami. But I will try to seize the little moments—a dimpled smile, a tiny sigh, a contented gurgle—and freeze-frame them in my heart.
So maybe we don’t need to throw out the to-do list altogether. But perhaps we’d be better off if we could lose track of it for a bit. If we could look into the eyes of the person we’re with and be all there. In the sacred now.
I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me.Psalm 131:2