A full-length mirror ended up making its way into my son’s nursery. It’s not fancy, and quite frankly it could use a good cleaning. It just leans up against the wall and has been in various places throughout the house over the past few months. At first I didn’t even notice it was there.
Then one night, as I was cradling my son about to put him down in his bed, the mirror caught my eye. I saw myself holding my baby, his little head nuzzled into my neck and my arms wrapped around his small, squishy body.
In that moment I did not judge my own appearance, as I normally would as I looked at my reflection in a mirror. Instead, I looked at myself as a mom. It wasn’t a moment likely to end up on Instagram, with my hair disheveled and my makeup long worn off, but I shockingly found myself feeling more confident and at peace than I had felt in a long time. I truly loved what I saw there in the mirror.
I had always dreamed of being a mom, and look at me! There I was holding my precious third baby, while he peacefully relaxed in my arms. Tears filled my eyes as I took in the moment. Time stood still as I swayed back and forth, feeling the fuzziness of his head and breathing in the lavender scent from his baby wash.
It didn’t matter what I looked like, how much baby weight remained, how dirty the rest of the house was. Everything that meant anything to me in that moment was before me. My dream had come true.
How often do we get a bird’s eye view of our own life? Sometimes we might try to stop and savor the moment while watching our kids, but I realized that rarely do I ever notice and enjoy myself in the moment with them.
People sometimes come up to me (usually elderly folks) and tell me how sweet my family is and how I should enjoy it. “It goes so fast,” they always remark. “Before you know it, they’ll be grown.”
And in that moment of seeing my reflection, I knew those words were true. How many more weeks and months did I have of carrying this baby to his bed and having him coo back at me in delight? How many times have I trudged in, half asleep, to feed him in the middle of the night, without appreciating that sweet time together?
How many times have I played trains in the living room, while still reviewing my to-do list in my head, not fully living in the moment with my toddlers? How many times have my kids waited to have a conversation with me after school while I was too busy responding to an email or doing the laundry?
It’s not about beating ourselves up over this realization. It’s about making an effort to make the rest of the day, and the future weeks and years, different. Just because one day is especially frantic and crazy, and you feel like all you can muster is operating in survival mode, it doesn’t mean that tomorrow can’t be different.
This “mirror experience” gave me a glimpse of what someone else might see of my life. It is much easier for an observer to take in my interactions with the kids than it is for me to do the same thing. But, we are truly missing out if we don’t take the opportunity to appreciate and enjoy these precious and inspiring moments with our children.
Like I said, I had always dreamed of this moment, and here it is. How lucky am I?
QUESTION: Have you ever had a “mirror experience” where you suddenly see how fortunate you are?
CHALLENGE: Find a time this week to stop and savor a precious interaction with your child.
Edited by Lisa Hoelzer and Becky Fawcett.
Image from Cate Johnson; graphics by Julie Finlayson.