We got my son a new dinosaur playset.
It came with 20 various dinosaurs and included trees, bushes, large boulders, and small rocks. Everything to set the scene for an imaginative Jurassic Era right on his bedroom floor.
His excitement was palpable as we jumped in circles holding the box over his head roaring. I was honored to be his first choice in getting to play with him.
“Dad, let’s play! Let’s play!”
His voice calling my name hasn’t lost its effect in warming my heart. An instant stress relief to hear those words. I set up a few pillows on the floor to give my aging joints some comfort as I lay on the floor next to him.
I looked at the picture on the box and took note of how to set up the figures in the space we had. I quickly started to set things out and station the pieces in the best locations in order to make it look amazing for us to play.
Before I could even get through building the best rock formation ever seen, my son threw a dinosaur through the air.
The dino crashed into the rocks and destroyed my creative work. Annoyed, I rushed again to start setting up the pieces. Once again I hear I hear a roar and a dino flies into my efforts.
At first, I thought, He is just a kid, he is meant to destroy. That’s just where he is in his development. That may be true. It would have been so easy to get frustrated that he wasn’t playing right. I could have forced him to do it my way, the “right” way. I began to think more about why he wouldn’t want to see the finished product. We played as we built this world. He took extra time and attention to the details and locations of the figures. He would set up the dinosaurs, trees, and rocks, working hard to put them in the exact spot he had planned in his mind. There was intention and joy in what he was doing. He would then stand up, grab a T.rex and throw it at the progress, prompting me to do the same.
He made me slow down and think about what we were doing.
I am always so focused on finishing tasks in my life and with my kids. I want to build as fast as I can and then we can be done to move onto the next thing. What a valuable lesson he was teaching me: for him, the process is so much more fun than the end result.
For so many things in my life, I’m missing out on the moments in between the beginning and end. Not taking the time to enjoy the moments, to enjoy the process of building. I don’t give myself the chance to love the process because I’m more focused on the end. I find little enjoyment after a project is complete, and the feeling of accomplishment I do find doesn’t last.
Parenting isn’t “Hurry up and get the job done, so I can move on to the next job.” It’s a process. A process that involves falling in love with each new step. Falling in love with each new challenge. Learning, growing, and adapting to an ever-changing environment. It isn’t about raising a child to become an adult so they will move out. It’s about the 18 years of moments in between. 18 years of laughter, smiles, tears, fears, love, and joy.
We can’t focus on the end of the year, month, or day. We will miss out on the time in between, the best part.
I can sometimes miss moments with my kids because I’m so focused on completing the day. There are days where I am just looking forward to their bedtime. All parents have those days and need that time. I’m just looking at the clock, exhausted, waiting for a break. We all get tired, exhausted, burnt out. It can be so emotionally, and physically exhausting. Emotional exhaustion impacts the physical and the physical exhaustion impacts the emotional. It turns into this terrible cycle that can feel impossible to break. Intentional rest and recovery are so important to being able to take advantage of those moments between sunrise and sunset.
So many times I just want to put the LEGO set together so we can move on to the next thing. Finish eating, finish coloring, and finish this craft or this puzzle so we can move on to the next thing.
I don’t always remember the creating process is the play and it wouldn’t matter if we actually finished it. The time of building, the experience of the process is more important than ever finishing it.
I am one of those people who can’t leave a job unfinished. I can’t sleep knowing I’ve left something incomplete. Once I start a project I have to see it through even if it takes all night. Otherwise, I can’t get it off my mind. I’m so focused on the end result. I want to get it done so I can get it off my list and add another item to my list. I want to rush through things, and it carries over into time with my son.
My son was able to teach me a lesson on the floor of his room. Something, I think, a lot of adults and parents can struggle with.
Enjoy the process.
Not only enjoy it, but love it. Do this in every area of life.
I can stress so much about the end result that the quality suffers. In reality, I don’t have to worry so much about the future if I’m making the most of the present.
I’m doing what’s most important by focusing on the process and sharing time with my son.