I have four children. It isn’t very often that I get to spend one on one time with any of them. I had the opportunity today to spend the whole day with my youngest son who is 7.
I had to work a little bit in the AM. I had no choice but to work, so I let him have some bonus tv time.
He kept asking me, “you almost done?” “Can we play now?” I was engrossed in work and REALLY wanted to keep working until I was finished, but because I knew I was wasting precious one on one time with my baby, I did the bare minimum (per usual it seems).
When I was finished, I asked him what he would like to do and he chose playing out in the back yard. So we played catch, tennis, soccer and he wanted me to watch him do some soccer ball tricks.
We then went to the mall to buy a few last minute gifts for his older brother who is turning 14 tomorrow. When we finished doing what we had to do I, once again, turned the power to my little 7 year old. I told him he was in charge and I would follow his lead.
He opted for ice cream first. Well, it is actually frozen yogurt, but because of my families food allergies to peanuts and tree-nuts (to name a few), we are pretty limited with what is safe for us. We sat together and ate our ice cream. I refrained from pulling out my phone. I sat, in silence, with him while we ate and he chatted about what he wanted to chat about.
Next we went to Build-A-Bear. For the record- I NEVER say yes to building a bear. We have too many stuffed animals in the house, it is too expensive (for me with four kids) and I just never say yes. Because he was in charge today, I was willing to splurge. He chose a $16.00 bear. No noises, no smells, no clothes, not even a certificate. His wants are so sweet and simple, he just wanted the softest, cuddliest bear they had. My heart was so filled with love. Again, I refrained from pulling out my phone while waiting.
Next he just wanted to walk around and hold my hand.
After we left the mall, we had to pick up his sister at a very crowded beach, met up with his 2 older brothers and had a fun filled evening with friends at Coco Keys water park. It was busy and chaotic, just like our normal life.
I dedicate this day to my dear friends’ child, Joshua Kaye, who is no longer with us. Losing him taught me that the time we have right now is all we have.
I put off a lot of things for later that I just don’t get to. One thing that sticks in my mind was a giant princess puzzle that my daughter got for her birthday when she was 4. She LOVED that puzzle. It was life-sized and the pieces were big. Water spilled on it and the pieces got all warped. I took the pieces and put them flat under a large pile of heavy books. I told her they would probably flatten out over time. She asked me daily for those pieces, asking if they were ready yet. Day after day after day. I got frustrated she asked me so frequently.
Then, one day- a few years later- I was cleaning up and (woah!) there were those puzzle pieces. Three years had past. She no longer wanted them. It was such a simple thing I could have done to make a 4 year old happy. I could have just checked on the stupid pieces to see if they are ready yet for her, but no- I was too busy. You only have now.
Yes, I was on my phone today. I texted, looked things up, and got some work done. But, I was also very aware of the here and now. I made my 7 year old really happy. He feels so very special that he got to see what his big brother is getting for his birthday before everybody else and we got some amazing one-on-one time.
I dedicate this and most of my days since Josh’s passing on July 7th 2014 to him. There isn’t a moment that goes by that I don’t think of him and his family and how they wake up every single day without him. I think about how courageous Josh’s parents are. They made a decision that they must continue to really live their lives without their precious 8 year old son, for their two daughters.
Everything about Joshua’s death sickens me. He should be here. But he isn’t. (Read his story here and here.) Instead of walking around angry and sad all of the time, I try to be understanding, kind, and loving for my own kids. I have learned to be more patient and, most of all, present.
Life with 4 kids, plus a small business, being an author, radio show co-host and blogger is busy and sometimes a blur, but I am taking one moment at a time and trying to do it with a smile on my face and love in my heart.
For more information about Joshua Kaye Foundation, visit the foundation’s Facebook page.