He walks into my upstairs office and sits down in the office chair opposite mine and begins to twirl in circles like a mad man, while telling me about a really cool skateboard trick he saw Connor, his 12-year old idol perform last night on our sidewalk.
When this happens—-which is quite often–I usually try and stop for a minute and explain that I can’t give him my full attention until I finish this task, but I’d love to meet him downstairs shortly or could he save the story for dinner time?
Sometimes I do this in gentle tones. Sometimes there’s a sharpness to my voice I wish wasn’t there.
But this morning, I stopped, looked up (I love his earnestness and passion), pushed my laptop aside and really saw him. For a moment, I jumped into his world, imagining how he must have felt watching Connor—wishing his small nine-year old string bean body could do what this testerone-flooded big boy’s could. I could feel how badly he wanted me to experience his excitement at witnessing this force of nature. And for a moment, a veil was lifted, and I did.
And when he left for school with his dad this morning and came to me for a goodbye hug and kiss, I held him tighter than normal and looked intently into his eyes whispering silently, “I see you.”
This five minutes of enlightenment reminded me of Betty Sue Flowers and her son, when she shared at a women’s conference years ago, that to really understand and connect with someone you have to have a desire to move into their world, to occupy their space. Not outside-in, but from the inside-out.
I’m carrying forward this moment into my week with the intention of having “heightened awareness” in how I approach my work, my team, clients, my family, friends and my environment.
I think a lot about being more present and how I can cultivate this quality in my everyday experience (listen here to the class Carrie Contey, PhD and I just led on this theme).
But, I’m realizing there are degrees of “presence.” And sometimes when I think I’m really listening to my son or husband or loved ones. I’m not. At least not like I did this morning with my little guy.
Before my husband and third-grader zipped off to school in our dirty VW, my son rolled down the window and I called out to him from the porch, “Maybe I could get a skateboard and we could try some of those tricks together?” He looked at me funny, “Mom, that would be embarrassing.” And then after a short pause, he added quietly but with hope .. “Would you really do that?” Yes, Jonah, I would.
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Photos: After a heavy rain, our yard was filled with these critters. When my son brought in eight of them to adorn our bathroom sink and compete in a snail race, I was mortified … and then delighted. They’re actually very cool.