I think one of the problems that we as a society struggle with today is that we never take the time to stop and smell the roses. Everyone is always going a mile a minute, stressing about the future, worrying about what's to come and rarely appreciating our current surroundings. Sometimes you just have to slow down, put your worries aside and live in the moment.
I'm sure if you were to look back at a time when you were living in the moment, you'd remember the smallest details. The music you were listening to, the smell of the ocean, the cool breeze that swept across your face on a crisp, fall afternoon. These little moments are what really matters.
I've noticed that since becoming a mother, I tend to live in the moment more often. What would have been a completely insignificant point in time before having children has now become the memories that I'll hold on to forever. The Fourth of July that my son, Joey, was 3 was one of those times.
In the town that I grew up in, the annual Fourth of July fireworks display is huge. It's a tradition that everyone looks forward to every year. On this particular year, my sister and I were helping to get some things done at our mother's new house and planned on taking our boys down to watch the show later that night. I had spent the day painting the back porch and was just about ready to hop in the shower and get ready to go, when Joey cracked his head open on the corner of the futon. He was gushing blood and screaming. So without even thinking twice, we tossed the kids in the car and headed straight for the emergency room.
By the time we got to the hospital, Joey had stopped crying and was being so brave. I on the other hand, was basically a lunatic. Like a Silverback Gorilla, I came plowing through the doors of the ER, carrying my kid like a football, covered in paint and blood, barefoot and crying hysterically. Luckily, the wound on his head wasn't anything serious. Six stitches and 20 minutes later we were good to go. The doctor gave me a quick run down of things I should look out for, went over his discharge instructions, and advised me to just have Joey lay low for the next couple of days. Specifically, no fireworks.
If ever there was a moment that I felt like the biggest failure of a mom, it was right then. As if his day hadn't been bad enough, now I had to let him down even more. He stood at the door with the saddest eyes, as he watched his aunt and cousin leave, to head down to the park. It broke my heart. I spent the next couple of hours trying to do whatever I could to cheer him up, to no avail.
Then suddenly we heard a loud "bang" and both ran over to the front window to see that the neighbors across the street were lighting off fireworks. Joey's eyes lit up. There was that smile I had been needing to see.
As we curled up on a bench out front of the house, Joey sitting on my lap and a blanket wrapped around us, the rest of the world disappeared. It was just me and my precious boy and our own private show. I remember the way the air smelled like smoke and the way Joey's little legs felt so warm while resting across mine. The snapping and hissing noises let off from the fireworks rang through my ears, while Joey sang out with squeals of excitement. Colors of red, gold and blue lit up the sky and the reflection of the fireworks glanced back at me through Joey's wide eyes. It was just the two of us and nothing else in the world mattered.
All of the stress and disappointment I had felt earlier that day was now so small and seemed so far away. Those were just things that happened. But this was living... just my boy and me and that perfect moment in time.