When one of my daughters was three years old, I was snuggling with her putting her to bed at night when she said, “Dad, I have a tear in my eye. It’s a happy tear. I mostly get those when I’m snuggling with you.”
I hugged her closer and she added, “Just so you know, I love snuggling with you.”
That was years ago, and I had forgotten about it until this week when I went back into my old Quote Log while desperately searching for an article idea.
The article was due the next day, and I had nothing.
It’s just been so busy lately. I hadn’t had any time to even think about the article, let alone work on actually writing it. There have been school projects, doctor’s visits, holidays with costumes to make, and sports and classes and lessons and about ten thousand math questions.
Yes, math questions. My two youngest kids (aged four and six) have recently become beguiled by the mysteries of mathematics and are constantly engaging me in dialogues like this:
“Dad, what’s 99 plus one?”
“What’s 98 plus two?”
“What’s 97 plus three?”
And so on …
The good news is that I can handle this level of mathematical complexity — and not much more. So I’m glad to score points while I can. Come algebra, geometry, and calculus, you’ll be on your own, kids.
So I’ll take the successes I can get when I can get them, but the hail of math questions does play havoc with attempts at concentration.
Sorry about that tangent, but it gives you a flavor for the oblique angles of my life lately.
Which left me where we started: with an article due the next day, and my brain depleted.
So I went to my Quote Log.
Years ago my Mom suggested I start writing down cute, funny, interesting, insightful, memorable things the kids say. She got the idea from her sister. Over the years her sister recorded the little things her kids said and did on her calendars as they happened. Then when her kids were grown with families of their own, she went back through her old calendars and took those quotes and stories and put them into a book for each of her kids, along with photos of them at the ages when the things happened, and gave each of her kids a book about their own childhood. Pretty awesome.
I doubt I will ever be able to pull off something like that, but my Mom suggested that I start capturing those little things when they happen to preserve the memories. She warned me that though at the time you think you’ll never forget those moments, if you don’t write them down you will.
So I started a “Quote Log.” It’s a notebook I keep in the kitchen to jot down little things the kids say or do when something strikes me. At times I’ve been more diligent at keeping up with it, and at other times more lax. But I’ve never regretted writing down a memory, and I love going through the Quote Log now, looking back at the years past.
First because it’s so fun. It’s amazing how kid’s minds work and the way they see the world. When I hear people say that being at home raising kids is boring or uninteresting or not stimulating, I can only figure they must not be paying attention. If you listen, kids are hilarious, surprising, intriguing, and often profound.
Second, whenever I go through the Quote Log I realize again how right Mom was. I always find things I had totally forgotten. (And how is it that Mom is always so right? I don’t know, but over the years I have come (sometimes grudgingly) to accept the truth: “When in doubt, trust that Mom knows what she’s talking about.” And even in the many times when I wasn’t in doubt, I’ve discovered — eventually — that she was right then, too.)
So now, with an article due and the inspiration tank empty, I turned again to the trusty old Quote Log.
That bedtime from so long ago was one of the things I had forgotten, but in the midst of the current hectic season of life, my daughter’s words reached across the years with something I needed to hear at this moment.
Because while this has been a busy time, I know looking ahead that the pace won’t be letting up any time soon. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, St. Nick’s Day is a few weeks after that, then a few more weeks and Christmas will be here.
And it takes a lot of work to pull off The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
Along the way there will be more school projects, practices, Christmas concerts, and all the rest (though hopefully fewer doctor’s visits!) (But when we need them, thank you Jesus for giving us good doctors and medicines to heal us!)
In the midst of all the urgent tasks, it’s just good to pause sometimes to remember what it’s all about, why we’re doing all this, and what we’re really trying to achieve. It’s easy to lose sight of the important amid the constant press of the urgent. But the real satisfaction and value and accomplishment, and the joy of the journey, come from the important things.
Snuggles and happy tears have the power to remind us of what those things are.
Copyright 2018 Jake Frost