THE BLOG

How My Son Taught Me to Slow Down

08/18/2014 09:00 pm ET | Updated Oct 18, 2014

We are what you would call a typical Silicon Valley techie couple. Dual income, one-child-who-goes-to-private-school kind of couple. No, we haven't seen our companies go through 3 IPO's and get acquired a bunch of times. We are the "other" kind. Middle class, worked-at-big-companies kind of couple.

But this post is not about us and how we function as a couple, but more about the moment and living in the moment.

So, coming back to the point here. School months are great -- we have a routine, we have it down pat. Yes, it took us a while to get there, but you can surely understand what I mean. Last year, our 7-year-old started first grade in a real school. We got about 2-3 tardy slips and we thought that wasn't too bad. Or are they?

This is the first summer with back to back camps for our son. What is a couple to do if all you have is two weeks worth of vacation each year?!

Summer months have been hard for us. Very, very hard. I was just getting adjusted to this difficult routine when I realized it was only four more weeks until the start of the next school year!

Has anyone ever thought about why summer camps begin a 9.30 a.m.? In my world that is practically the middle of day. Me and my husband work "global hours." I am not sure if everyone is even aware of that. In the valley you are expected to be on and available from 6 am PST to about 12 midnight PST -- just in case something bad happens to your product. That means my meetings typically start at 6 a.m. at least two -- three days a week.

And that leads to " whose meeting is more important" discussions between me and my husband. Let's just say after 10 years of marriage and lots of arguments, we got that figured out. In the summer, we don't reschedule the weekly meetings, we kind of work around it. I think rescheduling the whole year's worth of schedule for the summer months is plain silly, and I don't want to put my coworkers through that.

Someone has to drop the kid some time. That is a huge cause of stress. For the most part, if it is a customer call or it is your boss you are talking to at the opportune moment which is the drop off time, you win. You don't have to drop the kid.

It was one of those mornings, crazy hectic 6 am meeting kind of morning for the both of us. Our poor child doesn't say much at all -- he knows mamma and baba are in meetings he shouldn't disturb. He changed into his going-out clothes, made his own bowl of cereal and waited.

It was 10 a.m. before both of us realized he hadn't been dropped to camp. I quickly got dressed, gave my husband a dirty look (couldn't yell since he was on a customer call). I had lost the battle on "whose meeting is more important." I held my son's hand and dragged him into the car with four bags in hand.

I was mad, my son was a bit hassled, my husband was stressed and it was just a bad, bad start to the day.

We started to drive towards camp -- no music, no talking -- just being in the car.

About 10 minutes in to the drive, my son quietly said, "Mamma, can I listen to some music in the car?"

I let out a breath. I hadn't realized I was in fact holding my breath and had a really stern look on my face. Funny, how kids know just the right things to say. He was being sweet and wanted to listen to the music I like. My son gets his love of Latin instrumental music -- Rodrigo Gabriela, Juan Valencia anyone? -- and 90s rock from his parents. It was one of my favorite compositions of the Latin music that was referring to.

I switched on the music in my car.

I looked outside and saw a beautiful sunny California summer morning. I opened the sun-roof and just sank into my seat, my tense back muscles relaxing for the first time that morning. I found myself relaxing my facial muscles and the mild headache seemed to have evaporated.

My son, who was quiet till, then pensively started to dissect the music that was playing. He started to tell me about the instruments, when it was the guitar versus piano, how the music transitioned from staccato to legato and how the music changed from being Latin-influenced to Asian-influenced and back.

Listening to my son's small chatter, I understood how much he had internalized that piece of music. He had actually listened to it and really understood what the artist was trying to say through his music. I admired how present he was, right there, with me, in the car. For a 7-year-old to have analyzed music like that was simply something I hadn't expected from him. To listen together and be situated in that frame was a gift. That was goodness in all its glory.

Granted I had to cancel a whole bunch of meetings during the time, but it was so worth it.

We have made listening to music in the car our special time together. It is something we even crave sometimes. We will take a ride in the car just because we want to, with no destination in mind. I sometimes thank God that his school and camp are at least a 30-minute drive away.