It would be all too easy to become frustrated with you. I never have much time, yet time means nothing to you. You’ve got your whole little life to amble slowly down the lane, while the dogs are tugging me on. You’ve got a great big sky above you, and strange winged creatures that glide across it, screeching for your attention. It would be so easy to become impatient with you. You scream if you are strapped into the buggy. You don’t want to be held. You want those tiny legs to lead the way. You’re marching on with your own mission in mind.
Your mission is rarely the same as mine. I have time to keep and things to do. Chores that gnaw at my mind. Tiredness that makes my head ache and my teeth clench. But you know nothing of the sleeplessness you cause me, you know nothing of the jobs that await me when we get back home. You are in the right here, right now. I’ve got washing to bring in, plants to water, dinner to think about, rooms to tidy. You’ve got stones to collect and then throw around. You’ve got sticks to find and drag along behind you. You’ve got horses to stare at as they trundle past, flicking their tails at flies. You’ve got leaves to pick up and scrunch in your palm. You’ve got dirt to claw at with your hands.
It would be quicker, to scoop you up, screaming and kicking, to march on anyway, to drag you away so I can get on with the things that pester my mind. But I don’t. Not today. I let my breath out slowly, and just watch you. Just let you. I feel my shoulders relax, drop down and move back. I only move my feet when you move yours. I let my face relax, and stop straining my eyes into the distance, wondering how much longer it will take us to get home.
It’s meant to be me teaching you, yet there are so many things I can learn from you. Slow down. Look around. Look and listen and touch. To stop and see the world we live in through your eyes, is a magnificent thing. Everything grows bigger, brighter, surer. You don’t know anything, so every little thing makes you stop and look. Every little tiny thing delights you. It’s the same old boring lane to me, until I see it the way that you do.You crouch down to pick up stones, passing them from one hand to the next. You give one to me, then find another. You chatter and laugh at it all. You clap your hands. You stare, transfixed, when a bird breaks free from the hedgerow and climbs up into the sky.
Sometimes I am filled with despair when I look at the world. Sometimes my stomach tightens and turns over inside of me. Sometimes I wonder what the point of anything is. Bad news, bad people, bad times. Sometimes I look at you when you are sleeping, and I wonder what on earth I have done. What world have I given to you? What hardships will you go through? Sometimes I feel such guilt I almost cry. To have a child is a selfish thing. You long for love, to be loved, and to give love, but you forget about the dying world you have forced them into. You push that aside and do it anyway. Then, when they are asleep, perfect and pure, untouched by anything bad, or sad, or hopeless, you think why?
The thing is, hope is why.
When you see the world through the eyes of the very young, you see the world the way it could be. You see people that smile and melt when they set eyes upon another, smaller, newer human. You see potential. What if? You see what they could do, who they could become. You think of all the good people who have lived and died, and the difference that they made.
You see wonder and beauty in every tiny little thing. You slow down. You calm down. You see a big brave beautiful planet full of chances. The world is a story, with a beginning, a middle, and one day an end. It has bad guys and good guys, and it has always been this way. Mammoth battles have been fought and won by people who cared so much…Wherever there is evidence of cruelty in human nature, there is also evidence of courage, selflessness and love. For some reason, I stop and think about all of these things when you are taking forever to walk down the lane. I am reminded that you have a place in this world just like all of us, a story you will become part of, your own, and the world’s.
Today you taught me to slow down, to breathe, to live in the moment and to have hope.