I was in the shower last night when my husband walked into the bathroom and simply said, "Steve is dead."
My mind raced as I tried to quickly figure out who in the world he could be talking about. Then it hit me. He was talking about "Steve the Stink Bug," who the girls brought in as a pet about two weeks ago. I must say that Steve lived about 10 days longer than I had originally expected (or hoped, for that matter).
As I finished my shower, I thought about how although the girls only had Steve in their lives for two weeks, they enjoyed every minute of him. They built Steve a home in a hermit crab cage with sticks and leaves and water in a bottle cap. When my step-daughter returned from her mom's house, the first thing she did was check on Steve. They were so concerned about his living conditions and his health. His life was fleeting, but they enjoyed him the short time he was around.
Children are so much better than adults at just enjoying the moment. All you have to do is watch them running on the beach to realize that. They are running carefree in the sand while we are sitting in the beach chair worried about sharks and jellyfish and sunburn and drowning in the undertow. A perfect example of this juxtaposition is feeding seagulls. I have threatened my children since they were old enough to understand that if they do not bury any leftover bread crust or Pringles on the beach, then I will be furious. I cannot stand seagulls. I think they are rats that fly... but the kids get so much joy out of throwing bread in the air for them to catch.
Whether it's a jar full of fireflies, which you know will all be dead by morning, or a goldfish won at the fair who doesn't stand a fighting chance to make it more than 48 hours. Or a stink bug found in the backyard. They relish in the moment. Children know how to stop and smell the roses.
My handsome boy smelling Dandy's roses...
Adults have a harder time with this enjoyment of the here and now because we know what is to come. It's like the fleeting moments when you realize that it has been a few days since there has been any drama with your ex. There have been no emails or phone calls or text messages to speak of. He/she may even be pleasant in your presence.
Rather than enjoy the moment, we tend to focus on the negative and wonder what Summons we may get served next or how he/she is manipulating us in some way. Instead, we should be celebrating the quiet time when we don't have to have daily talks with our friends or family about any of the crazy going on. Trust me, they probably get tired of hearing it! When you are immersed in craziness, it is a relief to be removed from it, even for just a few days.
Kids see Steve... Adults see a STINK BUG.
Many of my friends have expressed their concern to me when their exes all of a sudden seemed to "get over it." Their exes were combative and bitter and angry while trying to keep any semblance of control over them by not agreeing to anything even if it is something clearly in the best interests of the children... but one day it stopped. And that sudden calmness made my friends anything but calm. They confessed to losing sleep at night expecting a lawsuit or child support reduction, when all it turned out to be was their ex-husbands had started dating someone new. Rather than enjoy that brief time of peace though, they found themselves anxious.
We need to try to be more like the children. When things start going well with your ex, don't just assume the worst. Maybe he/she has met someone who can take the heat off of you for a while. Revel in it! Enjoy it! Your kids will be better off with both of their parents happy. Trust me when I say that your ex finding a relationship can be the best thing for your relationship with your ex!
I'm going to try to enjoy the little things more often without worrying about what is to come. I'm going to stop and smell the roses... and be thankful for any little bit of peace I am given. If we are overwhelmingly grateful for the little things, then just think about how exciting the big things will be???????
I may even feed the seagulls the next time we hit the beach. Nahhh.......
Original painting by Sandy Vincent