Mommy, I Brought You A Flower
Tuesdays always feel so hectic. In theory they shouldn’t. On any given Tuesday, I see two clients virtually and the rest of the day is fairly peaceful, filled with office work, catching up on the random to-do list, and running errands. Maybe on Tuesdays the chaos comes from the complete dedication to being home. My focus goes toward the house and what “this and that” list I can get done. In short, though I am fully present in my home, I am utterly distracted by everything I can’t help but assume I need to get done.
The kids typically run around. Our next door neighbors are some of their best friends. All afternoon long from three to seven on any given Tuesday, there is this constant flow of little feet running back and forth from my house to “the other Andrea’s” (there are 3 Andreas living in a row; who’d have thought?). This particular Tuesday was a beautiful one. We’ve desperately needed all of the warm, welcoming days we can get as it was a brutal February and the early, warm spring was welcomed with open arms. It’s been warm enough that the flowers have begun to bloom.
While the kids are running back and forth, I decided now is as good a time as any to tackle the dishes and do my best to address the atomic bomb that is our counterspace. Our kitchen and family room are a combined “great room” and I am pretty sure that is just synonymous with “Disaster Room”. Needless to say, Jeff and I haven’t fully figured out the “accountability” thing with the kids and instead of torturing ourselves by demanding they clean up their junk, I oftentimes just do that quick grunt work and incorporate it into my cleanup routine. They’re not utter slobs, just mindlessly messy; leave a super hero here, drop a “stuffy” there, before I know it, the main living area looks well lived in and the toys well loved.
Like anyone who is the maintainer of the mess, my anxiety tunnel visions me into a go-mode that rejects distractions. Once I begin my internal clean cycle, watch out. As I was engaged in my routine, a little creature pulled on the door latch from the outside, making her way toward me in the kitchen, “Mommy, I brought you soooomethiiing.” I paused for a moment, face to face with my little Brookie, as she extends her hand, presenting none other than a shriveled up dandelion head. She smiles as she exclaims in that high-pitched irresistible cuteness, “I brought you a flower.”
So many things happened for me in the instant. Initially, I felt excited that she came bearing gifts. When I looked down and saw a mere dandelion head, my anxious, cleanliness oriented brain shifted my body for a half second into this sort of negative rejection space in which I thought, “That’s no flower at all! That’s a weed.” I noticed the urgency within my stomach and chest telling me, get rid of the weed and get back on track. Pausing long enough to think before making my vital next move, I looked at my daughter’s face. In the purest smile with the softest giggle, I was able to stop and realize someone taught me a dandelion is a weed. In the eyes of my daughter, there was no such thing as a weed. There was no such thing as an “unwanted flower”. Instead all flowers are beautiful and make us smile and bring us joy.
What was important in that moment was that my daughter was offering me a “flower” because she was thinking of me. In the midst of running back and forth, immersing herself in play with her friends, she saw something beautiful in this world and she wanted to share that beautiful thing with someone she loves. Who would I be to reject her love by rejecting her offering?
This is the pureness of who our children are and what they long for in this world. Our children do not really care what the physical offering is. They truly just allow the world to speak to them in the purest sense – free of definitions and expectations. What Brooklyn actually offered me in that moment wasn’t a flower at all. She was actually offering me an invitation to connect with her – a validation that she loves me and a request that I reciprocate that bid for affection.
I think as a busy culture, we get caught somewhere between those gold moments in life and those chaotic anxious forces that often tell us to “do more” or “try harder”. Our children remind us that to thrive is not actually something attained in our chores, but is actually grasped in the moments when we pause and catch ourselves in the juxtaposition; rather than becoming frantic, instead we surrender. Surrender is an understanding that time is finite and connection is a priceless gem. When connection wins over the chaos, I am certain that is when people feel that legitimate sense of calm and release so many attempt to pursue in the monotonous actions of everyday life.
Perhaps today instead of getting too caught up in the wash, rinse, repeat cycle, you can instead look for a vase and pause long enough to smell your new flower and place it in some water where you can continue to care for something that someone cared enough to offer you. Inevitably, the flower will die, but hopefully the relationship will not.