One day when Sylvia was in preschool, I went to pick her up and the little girl who came to the door said, “Sylvia, your grandma’s here.” Having a late in life “surprise,” I had often joked that I would be mistaken for her grandmother, but there it was, out of the mouths of babes.
While my empty nester friends have a glass of wine at a happy hour with friends or at least an evening of quiet, I have dance class or basketball or homework or bath time or picky eater dinner choices or any of the other things you usually experience at a much younger age. And having a child at this point in life demonstrates why people who can have children into their forties, usually don’t. It can be exhausting.
But sometimes! And oh, those sometimes are something special. She forces me not to miss moments in life that a me in my fifties without her would have missed.
On this past Monday evening, an evening that was fall cool and the first weekday without daylight savings time, I was ensconced on my couch with a blanket and warmth. Sylvia came bursting through the door saying, “You have to come see this tree.” Yes, I know this fall has been exceptionally beautiful. Yes, I know the trees in my neighborhood are breathtaking. Yes, I’ve seen them and I was sure I would see them again the next day. I would just look out the window and humor her with a “Yes, the tree is beautiful.”
She would have none of it. I “had” to go see it. Had to, had to, had to, had to. I grudgingly got out of my cocoon and was prepared for the obligatory trip outside to assuage her with a quick return to the couch planned.
You know the rest. You know that I’m going to tell you how the light hitting the tops of the trees made me think of literary words like “gloaming” and poetic phrases I wish I could write. I know you’ve had those resplendent colors overwhelm you where you felt the trees had never been more beautiful. This was one of those times.
And my seven-year-old had made sure I didn’t miss it. We had a “moment.” We went for a walk to enjoy the beauty, literally danced in the street to Spanish songs we love to sing together, held hands, and savored it all.
None of us do that enough. I know I don’t, and I’m guessing you don’t either. We’re too tired, stressed, overwhelmed, or distracted. We’re too comfortable on our couch, too snuggled in our blanket. We miss the trees for the forest that is our lives of one thing after another.
Don’t miss the trees. Don’t miss the forest either, for it is all part of life.
And when life gives you a seven-year-old, whether you’re the grandmother or mother, answer the call to go outside, look at the world and dance in the street.