the one about dreaming smaller

I had the rare and special opportunity to be one of my oldest daughter's preschool teachers this year. A few weeks ago, as we were preparing Mother's Day gifts in class, I asked each child about a favorite activity he or she likes to do with his or her mom. The kids were drawing and coloring their renditions of each memory on the packaging for the handmade gifts we created.

While coloring away, my daughter told her friend, "I love it when my mom picks flowers with me." She said it so matter-of-factly, like she didn't have to think about it. She didn't lift her eyes from her paper as she swirled her crayon intentionally. Stick figures with huge smiles. Bright flowers. Hearts.

My heart swelled for a little bit until I realized that I don't think I have ever picked flowers with my daughter. Sure, I have watched her pick a dandelion or two out of our yard while I waited impatiently with our van door open, ready to head out to the next errand or play date.

Several times, I have explained to her through gritted teeth that the neighbors' flowers are not ours for the taking.

I have begrudgingly paid for a bouqet or two of flowers at the grocery store because she simply had to have them, displaying them in a vase on the counter for an additional two weeks after they all died-- half because she couldn't bear to throw them out and half because I couldn't remember to do it.

But have I ever really picked flowers with her? Like get a basket and hold hands and skip through a field of daisies while we sing Mary Poppins songs and pull the prettiest blooms?

No. I haven't.

So my heart went from swelling with love and warm fuzzies to feeling dark and withered and cold. My poor girl was making up memories of things we've "done together," rather than drawing pictures of what we actually spend our time doing.

Now, don't misunderstand-- I spend plenty of time with my girls. We do lots of fun activities. We go to the farmer's market. We have treats at Starbucks. We visit the zoo and the children's museum. They go with me to stores and we go on walks. We go to parks and the library. I watch them squeal in the baby pool and beg for harder pushes on the swing set. We do things. Fun things.

But so often I get wrapped up in the going and doing that I forget about the simplest joys. Here I am, checking my Disney Rewards points every month, looking forward to the next time we can take them to the Happiest Place on Earth. Meanwhile, my daughter is fantasizing about picking flowers with me.

She didn't draw us walking through Disney World on that package. She didn't draw the time we ate Dippin' Dots at the zoo. She didn't draw the cake pops from Starbucks. She didn't draw anything that cost any money or required any amount of planning or Pinning or traveling to do.

I am sharing this with you now because Summer Break has started. Kids are out of school, and if you're anything like me, you've been scouring Pinterest and Facebook and blogs in search of The Best Things To Do With Your Kids This Summer and The Top 10 Places To Visit With Kids and How To Beat Summer Boredom. You might be disappointed that you don't have a big vacation planned or that Disney isn't in the budget this year. You might be thinking that you're dropping the ball if you don't have entertainment on the schedule each day or if your child isn't going to a camp every other week or if you aren't making your own popsicles from scratch.

Kids just don't really need all of that to be happy. I don't think I ever really believed that before the "flower memory" incident with my daughter, but now I know it's true.

We love to dream big, don't we? We love to make elaborate plans and purchase expensive gifts, imagining the looks of pure bliss on the faces of our children. We say to ourselves, "She is going to FLIP when she sees this!" or "She will go NUTS when we tell her where we're going!" Bringing joy to our children is one of the best parts of parenting.

But we shouldn't be afraid to dream smaller. To find the magic in the little moments.

All the small adds up to something really big.

This Summer, there will be zoo trips and a beach vacation and a cake pop (or 2 or 12). But there will be  books on the couch. And listening to birds. And watching the clouds. And napping in the sun. And counting freckles.

And picking flowers.

No comments