Kids are funny. As a parent, you spend most of your time trying to get or keep their attention. They’re like coked out squirrels with way too much vocabulary. It takes so much energy to get them to recall what you just said to them (three times, don’t make me say it again). Yet, their ability to absorb the really big, important things – values and beliefs – while looking utterly distracted defies explanation.
Take, for example, our middle daughter (she hates being called that, but “second daughter” sounds like we’re ranking her). She is a lovely artist who hates sweat and is certain that nature is trying to kill her. Being the child of two active parents who love to run trails has been her daily cross. So, when my husband and I decided to do an adventure run of West Coast Trail for our 10 year anniversary, our return back home was greeted with “Why did you leave me? I was so lonely! What’d you bring me? Why don’t you love me?” Not the captive audience we’d hoped for.
Two weeks later, I’m picking up D2 (unranked) from school when parents and teachers swarm me, saying “hi” and “nice to see you” and “your daughter is so proud of you” …I don’t mind people, but this is weird. Why am I being hugged? Have we met? “Oh, by the way, mom – I was in charge of the creative feature for school assembly today. So, I shared the video of your anniversary run.” This from the child who didn’t register much more about our 3-day absence than the fact that we never take her anywhere and Grandma forced her to make her bed every day.
I thought maybe we hit a fluke shift in the universe that somehow aligned the finite attention of our daughter with an equally finite achievement by her parents. Like when an action movie pauses for everybody but the one person who gets to re-position themselves for the most strategic outcome. It was a time blip. Never to be achieved again.
Until last week. Even though I am nowhere near the achievements I was a year ago in running, I guess my energy and enthusiasm haven’t waned. I didn’t even realize that until our youngest daughter (she hates being called that, makes her feel small) – unranked D3 – pulled a folded up note from her jacket, shoving it into the palm of my hand as she quickly exited the van – “Bye mom! That’s for you.” It was a story of inspiration. About me. Wait, what? There was no trigger for why she wrote what she did, I hadn’t done anything impressive. Did I make her favourite waffles this morning? Nope, cereal from a box, mixed with coffee cream – gotta buy milk. My tears couldn’t figure out if they were leaking because I felt honoured or unworthy or touched by her sweetness…kids can make us feel pretty great for absolutely no reason at all.
These moments made me realize that our lives, how we live, not what we say, have value beyond what we know. Every day, I’m inspired by others, most notably my husband and my amazing daughters. They usually inspire me most when they least realize it. Seems to be how inspiration works. Sometimes, when I’m not paying attention, I even inspire myself. The best kind of inspiration.