I wonder sometimes if the details matter. If you’re working an algebra equation or measuring sugar for a brownie recipe the answer is simple. Details are crucial.
I’ve learned the hard way with these. Maybe you have, too?
But when it comes to details in life, the little things unseen to most eyes, those are the details I question.
My 4-year-old turned 5 last week. If you read this column you are likely saying, “Yes, Leslie, we know she turned 5. That is a detail you’ve told us all about on more than one occasion.”
I can’t help it. My baby girl is a very important detail in my life. I know you can relate.
But back to her birthday.
I wanted everything to be perfect. All moms do. We spent two days preparing for her big bash. We cleaned the floors and planned the cake. My husband bought water games and ice cream and a brand new pink scooter with light up wheels. I found matching straws to go with the matching streamers and the matching plates and napkins. Everything had a place. All the details were executed. We were set for ten, Pre-K kids to fill our backyard with laughter at 3:30 pm sharp.
But at 3:30 pm sharp, one tiny detail threw off our routine: Mother Nature. Just as kids started to arrive, the rain hit. Our backyard water bash turned soggy, quickly.
Here’s the thing about 4-year-olds. They don’t care if the straws match the plates or if the floors they are standing on sparkle – but they do care about a water party. And a promised slip-and-slide. And a pool full of cold water. And water balloons. These things need sun, not lightning, in order to participate.
I panicked. My husband was calm. I knew there was a reason I married this guy. He likes details.
He went into emergency mode and started a quick game of Simon Says in our basement which, thankfully, didn’t have to last long as the rain stopped almost as quickly as it began. But by the time the kids made their way to the backyard, our pool (that we hadn’t filled with water for several years) was fading fast. A few unknown holes made the water escape quickly.
We missed that detail, too.
And here’s where my questioning comes in.
The details that I thought were so very important, (the floors, the Cinderella cake I spent hours perfecting, the snacks, and the pool full of gushing water) didn’t matter much to those sweet kids. They thought the slip-in-slide was “awesome” (true quote from one pretty cute little boy) and that dilapidated pool made a perfect spot to re-fill the “super fun” water guns. They didn’t care what flavor of ice cream topped their cake, they just wanted ice cream. They didn’t care that their feet were sticking to my kitchen floors due to a few spots of spilled lemonade, they just wanted lemonade.
They had a blast, even if every detail didn’t go as planned.
That’s why I wonder. How much time do we spend each day worrying and planning and scared about the details in life we aren’t meeting. Are they really that important? Does the grass have to be perfectly trimmed? Or the flowers planted just so? How about your car or your home or your body? How much time do you and I waste trying to get each detail perfectly perfect?
Do people really care? Should you?
I don’t know.
Here’s what I do know. My 5-year-old had a great birthday party. Her smiles and laughter solidified my joy. But the icing on top of that slighted tilted Cinderella cake came when I heard these words from my sweet girl’s mouth.
“Mama, this has been the best week, ever!”
We nailed it. In the eyes of a brand new 5-year-old, we nailed it. That’s a detail I hope to always get right.