While our children were in grammar school, I waited with them for the bus every morning on a corner directly in front of our house.
That corner was not their original bus stop. As the school year approached for our brand new kindergarten student, a post card arrived in the mail assigning her to a bus stop a few blocks from our house. After the first few weeks of September, I realized the bus had to pass "our corner" to get to her stop, where she was the only pick-up. Figuring I had nothing to lose, I asked that her stop be moved to the corner closer to our house. Given her young age and the fact that we weren't adding a stop or changing the route, my request was granted.
For nine years, our children were the only pick-ups at that corner.
As I stood waiting for the bus with them, we worked through the sweet sadness of letting go, if only for a few hours a day. We collected acorns and pebbles from the ground to put in my daughter's pocket as reminders throughout the day that I was always with her. As the years went by, she didn't need the acorns as much, but last August when she went off to college she took a small token of mine that fit discreetly in her backpack for the very same reason.
Speaking of college, we talked about it at the bus stop on one of her first days of school. (The year escapes me now.) After a long summer together, she was especially upset about going off to school and leaving me. It struck me then that this was the first of many such separations. I took a risk and told her that one day I would be sending her off to college but, just like today, she would be able to handle it and I would always be there for her no matter how long or far our separation. It was both poignant and reassuring to remember that conversation when we left her on campus the first day of freshman year.
My son and I collected tiny pine cones, which still fill a bowl in my front hall. We talked and laughed and made jokes. I kissed him goodbye and held his hand for as long as he would let me. Finally when he entered the fifth grade, he lobbied hard to stand alone on the bus stop. I didn't want to give up our time and was nervous he'd bounce and play right off the sidewalk and into the path of the bus if I wasn't there, but I finally let him go. For the rest of that year, I watched over him from my kitchen window until the bus safely whisked him away.
Why am I telling you this now?
Every day, at approximately 8:13 a.m., I hear that same bus round the corner and I remember those moments with my children. I said it before and I'll say it again, it's the little things that give us joy. For just a few minutes we got to stop the madness of school mornings to notice the little things, like rocks and acorns and pine cones. In the process, we were sharing joy and learning to trust that we could let go and and come back together again.
When I look back now, did I stop to recognize the joy of those moments in the moment? Did I know then how much I would treasure them now? Was I aware that living life out loud was often at its best with very little noise and fanfare?
I'm sure there were mornings I was in a hurry or not in the greatest of moods. That's why I was inspired to write this post by a video I discovered on Gretchen Rubin's website, The Happiness Project. You can watch the video, The Days are Long But the Years Are Short, here. This is one of my favorite websites and I'm happy to share it with you if you haven't yet discovered it.
If the video resonates with you too, please let me know in the comments how it inspires you to stop and find joy in the little things.
For more by Debbie Woodbury, click here.
For more on mindfulness, click here.