She’ll be seven this week.

Birthdays are a big thing in our house. We usually start celebrations at least a week in advance. Sometimes more. But this year has been a little crazy. With the new baby and summer activities and jobs and church, it all feels like a blur.
“When are we going to go pick out your birthday party balloons?” I asked my soon to be 7-year-old, Grace.
Her response hurt my heart.
“I didn’t think we were going to do that this year, Mama,” she said in a sad tone.
I didn’t understand. Why would she think such a thing? We do this every year. Balloons and cake and candles. We match the cups and the plates with the napkins too– no details are left undone.
“I tried to ask you while we were at the store. But you didn’t hear me, Mama,” she added. “So I thought that meant we weren’t going to do anything.”

“You didn’t hear me, Mama.” Five little words made me feel so terribly disappointed in myself.
Here’s the deal. I’m not one to throw out the mommy guilt. I know better than that. Life is busy and my babies know how much I love them. Some days, I’m a great mom. On rough days, I’m an OK mom. But every day, no matter what obstacles come my way, my kids know I love them.
I’m certain of it.
Yet, I’m not perfect. I suppose none of us are. I can do better. 
I know what day she was talking about. We were at the store, choosing decorations for her room. We were all there together as a family.
I was there, but I wasn’t there. Do you know what I mean?

My heart knew I should enjoy a brief afternoon with my family, but my brain was thinking about how tired I was. And how much work I had to do. And about keeping the baby quiet. And wondering what we were going to eat for supper. And and and….

I was everywhere but the one place I needed to be… present. In the moment. Listening.

Have you been there too? When we’re trying so hard to do it all, so often we miss what’s right in front of us.

Our kids deserve better than that. We do, too.

We bought the balloons and cake and we’re all set for a week of celebration. I made up for the moment I missed, but it was the wake-up call my heart needed.

“Mom, if you work on my birthday, will you please get everything done before I wake up?” Grace asked me today. 

It’s already done, girl. This time, my heart and my mind will be fully present to celebrate age 7. I won’t miss it. 

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Leslie Means

Leslie is the founder and owner of Her View From She is also a former news anchor, published children’s book author, weekly columnist, and has several published short stories as well. She is married to a very patient man. Together they have three fantastic kids.  When she’s not sharing too much personal information online and in the newspaper – you’ll find Leslie somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with family and friends. There’s also a 75% chance at any given time, you’ll spot her in the aisles at Target.