Two weekends ago my kids and I had a Friday evening plan to head out to my parents’ house in Chester County for a BBQ and campfire with s’mores.
I had planned to scoop my son up from the bus stop and hit the road to beat some of the Friday rush hour traffic so we could have a relaxed few hours to visit before heading home for decent bedtimes.
I sat in the car at the bus stop and waited. And waited. And waited. I knew that the first week of school would likely have transportation kinks. I tried to tamper my growing annoyance. I kept watching the clock getting more and agitated, as my plan was getting away from me. My daughter’s repeated “where’s Brady?” was adding fuel to an already growing fire.
Finally, over 40 minutes late, the bus pulled around the corner. My son smiled and waved as he crossed the street, and I waved and smiled back but I didn’t really mean it. I was in rush mode.
He no sooner buckled his seat belt then I was zooming away, trying to make up time. Of course, traffic was awful. Of course, we seemingly hit every red light. Of course, hungry kiddos kept asking if we were almost there. Every glance at the clock reminded me that we were late.
After what seemed like the longest car ride ever, we finally sat at the last light of the ride. To my left was a gorgeous sunflower field. Growing up, the field often had hot air balloons launching in the evening light. The sunflowers are a new addition. For a moment, I relaxed and admired and forgot about my plan gone awry.
As we drove past, the kids asked if we could go see the sunflowers. I quickly responded with a “no, because we’re already running late and we’re almost there – maybe next time.” As I looked at their faces in the rear view mirror, I saw disappointment and resignation. It hurt my heart.
I turned around. We parked on the side of the road and we wandered over to the sunflowers. My daughter raced into the field with reckless abandon, stopping to smell and investigate every flower she could get her hands on. My son (who tends to be dramatic) followed her, but treaded carefully because of all of the “killer bees” he identified. As I watched them wander and captured their happy faces with photos, I felt all of my tension drift away. For the handful of minutes that we spent there, I forgot about the plan and our lateness. We were in the moment. We were literally “stopping to smell the [sunflowers].”
I’m sure I’m not alone (I hope!) in getting overwhelmed by the pace at which life sometimes seems to push us along. We get caught up in the “go, go, go” and “quickly” and “maybe next time” as we barrel ahead to check off to-do lists, both real and imagined. While some of the “go, go, go” is necessary, I hope that we can all remember to hit the pause button and live in the moment. Sure, the sunflowers could’ve waited until “next time.” But, they were pretty darn awesome “this time.” And so were the smiles – mine included.