I recently took my family to Newburyport, MA, a beautiful coastal New England town full of rich history, interesting scenery, shops and things to do. Being the A-type personality I am, I entered into the trip full of ideas on how we could make the day as interesting and entertaining as possible. While I no longer force an “itinerary” on my family (thank goodness!) for these events, I knew what I wanted to do and what a good day would look like for me. My kids had a completely different idea.
After just a few minutes of sightseeing, visiting shops and walking along the coastline, it was apparent that my daughter Isabella (12) and son Nico (6) had a much better idea of what “fun” would be that day and weren’t buying into Dad’s “master plan”. As I was ready to move into full-fledged tourist activity, the kids raced into nearby Waterfront Promenade Park and implored my wife Karla and I to get out a blanket from the car and hang out there. It turned out to be the best decision we’ve made in some time.
The afternoon was full of fun – kicking a soccer ball around, mini-naps for one parent at a time, playing chase and rolling around in the grass with our new dog Ollie. Near the end of the day, I lay on our blanket comforted by the cool shade of an oak tree and was looking up at a crystal blue sky. Isabella lay down next to me and snuggled. It was in that moment that I realized how truly grateful I was for my family, my life and that moment. I realized that I had all I needed to be happy, peaceful and fulfilled.
Children can be our greatest teachers. They come into this world uninhibited, peaceful, adventurous and deeply in tune with their spirit. It’s ironic that as parents and mentors, my wife and I spend a great deal of time teaching our kids about life and how to navigate it with this deep belief that we have all the answers. Yet it is in these moments that I realize just how much I need my kids to teach me. Bella and Nico didn’t need a plan or a list of cool things to do that day. They didn’t need paid entertainment, devices, or distractions. They just needed a day hanging out in the park with Mom and Dad.
No amount of “doing” could have produced that feeling I had. No interesting landmark, or store, or tourist activity could have reproduced the sense of love and peace that I felt when I lay in that park looking up at the sky and holding my beautiful daughter.
More “being” less “doing”. Living in the moment and cherishing what you have. Words we hear all that time, but so often don’t heed because we get caught up in the busyness of life.