I was driving down the road, chattering to my toddler son about the view from the windows: "There goes a dump truck! I wonder if we'll see a firetruck? Look at that shiny car." I pulled up at a light and pointed excitedly to a school bus, exclaiming, "Look how big that bus is!"
Suddenly, I noticed the silence in the back seat. I glanced at the empty seat in the rearview mirror and remembered that my son was visiting his grandparents.
I'd been talking to myself for the last 10 minutes! I glanced sheepishly at the cars around me, certain everyone was laughing at me.
As the mom of young kids, I'm seldom alone, and I'm always looking for entertainment in the mundane. I point out bulldozers and trash trucks, bumblebees and daisies everywhere we go.
Sometimes I miss the old days, when I drove alone, radio blaring, lost in my own thoughts. I always got where I was going on time, but I missed so much back then. I never stopped to notice a helicopter soaring overhead, and I certainly never lingered around a construction site in my single days.
Now? I've spent hours on the lawn with my sons, following ants to their homes. I once spent half a day on vacation in a foreign country watching bulldozers and diggers as they repaired the road outside our hotel. Several of the construction guys stopped by to explain to my sons how the dump truck worked, and one even recommended a local museum we could try – if we ever tired of the construction site.
We wonder aloud where the firetruck is going, sirens blaring. We try to tunnel our way through piles of sand. We dig holes in the garden, looking for worms.
True, it can be boring sometimes. Then there are those moments of sheer magic, when I feel a small hand in mine as we watch a squirrel leap from a tree or when I hold a child close to "protect" him from a bee.
One morning, the boys were outside playing. All was quiet. I sat alone in my kitchen, looking out the window at the sunlight shining through the red leaves of the plum tree. It was beautiful. There was no one there to share it with, no child to call over. Still, I watched and I wondered, mesmerized for a few moments. It was a special moment.
Like any responsible parent, I give my kids the best of what I have: time, attention, love.
But they've given me something important, too. Because of them, I've learned to slow down, to see things through a child's eyes again. They've helped to remind me, over and over, that the world is a magical, mysterious place.