Thank you for slowing me down.

Thank you for making me a mommy. Thank you for making me notice wildflowers and lonely souls. Thank you for making me not care if we’re two minutes late to the dentist.

Thank you for that Thursday not long ago, when we pulled into the parking lot just in time. You hopped out of the car and right away noticed the dandelions growing in the field next to the dentist’s office. You ran over to see them, to pick them, to smell them.

“Come on, we’re going to be late if we don’t go in now,” I said briskly. You see, in my prior life, my life before you, timeliness was not only valued, it was necessary. You don’t know that world yet, but in the world of jobs and school, of grown-up commitments, being on time is The Thing To Do. And it’s all I knew for the longest time. So I have this need to be either early or right on time for everything. I have this guilt that sneaks up in my soul if I think someone might be waiting for me. That day I had planned our arrival just right; I even pictured the receptionist smiling at me when we arrived on time.

But you looked at me with pleading eyes, and you said it so sweetly, “Mommy, can I just pick one flower?” As you waited for my answer I asked myself, what’s the harm of being two minutes late? And I found my smile and said yes.

Your little sister joined you, and the two of you scampered through the field, not actually content to pick just one flower, but rather a whole bouquet of spring. I smiled as I watched you and thought, this is the stuff childhood should be made of. I watched you running through the field of wild flowers, wild like you, growing up fast like you. I cringed at the thought of the receptionist frowning at me when we walked in late. But remembered that your opinion matters more than hers. Seeing you feel joy and be a kid and know peace . . . it’s worth the two minutes.

You picked the most beautiful wild bouquet, and you didn’t even know there was a lonely someone inside waiting to receive it. Or maybe you did. Maybe you knew someone needed flowers that day, needed your attention, needed your smile.

We walked in, two minutes late, and there he was. The elderly man, wheelchair-bound, with the lonely eyes. I wondered if you would be nervous or shy. After all, you’re still young, and he looked a little different from what you’re used to. But you didn’t hesitate. With a smile and a bounce you bravely offered the fresh bouquet. And a smile lit up his lonely eyes.

He chatted with you and you chatted back. You introduced yourself and he asked questions. As I walked up to the receptionist to check you in, who didn’t care after all that we were two minutes late, I listened to your happy conversation. I wondered how long it had been since the old man had received flowers, or had such a smile on his face, or talked with a child. And I realized that maybe none of this would have been if we hadn’t stopped for the flowers, which were the buffer you needed to start a conversation, the offering that likely made his day.

We sat down to wait and I remembered my high school history teacher. She had a baby when I was a junior in her class. I ran into her with her little one at a coffee shop one day; when I asked her how she was doing, she replied happily, “Babies slow your life down a little bit.”

But now that I have my own I know the slowing down doesn’t just happen. It’s a choice.

It’s a choice to let you slow me down.

And you see, in this helter-skelter world we’re living in, parenting advice abounds . . .  advice about what I can teach you. But I’m learning, little ones, I’m learning that you’ve got something to teach me.

So thank you, dear one. Thank you for teaching me to pore over the pictures in a book instead of rushing through it like I used to do. Thank you for teaching me to walk slowly down the street and notice the birds and squirrels that join us. Thank you for reminding me that kindness is more important than my calendar, joy is more important than a million jobs done, and noticing a lonely soul is more important than being on time.

And thank you for the gift you gave me that day. 

See, the lonely man isn’t the only one who received a special offering from you—I did, too. You gave me memories that will warm my heart for years to come. Because I’ll never forget the smile on your face when you find a new kind of flower. I’ll never forget the way your curls bounce in the sun. I’ll never forget how free and happy you look when you’re running through the grass, small but quick. And I’ll never forget how kind and giving you were to a tired stranger that day.

So I’ll let you jump in puddles even if it means more laundry later. I’ll smile while you give some attention to the lonely soul in the corner. And I’ll watch you run and pick flowers even if it makes us two minutes late.

Because I hope you always know that when I get to choose between pleasing others and slowing down for you . . . I’ll choose you.

Originally published on the author’s blog

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Laura Costea

Laura is blessed to live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and three young children.  She is a nurse, writer, and strong-coffee-maker.