Today I watched her play. Sometimes, I see the times when my toddler is playing so contently by herself as an opportunity to get something done. But, not today. Today I watched her. I watched her carry washcloths, diapers, and t-shirts over to her wooden cart and push them around them. I watched her take all the laundry across the room in armfuls and make a little pile in the corner. I watched her carry her baby doll and throw her into the basket.
I watched as she crawled into the laundry basket and waited for me to carry her around. I was going to fold the laundry, but I didn’t. I watched her try to put on daddy’s sock and snatch up a dried pea and put it in her mouth. I let her play with the clothes and towels, I let her make a huge disaster in the living room, and I let her do whatever she pleased with my pile of laundry. To me, it’s a pile of clothes, another thing for me to do, a box to check on a long list of things to do.
But not for her. For her, that pile of laundry is a treasure chest, a new world full of adventures, an opportunity to build something, explore something, and learn a new skill. Watching her play like that was the most relaxing thing I have done in a very long time. I think it made me realize how beautiful the small things in life are. To a little child, the world is so big, so full of opportunity, so full of life. As we grow up, the stresses our days, our responsibilities, and our busyness take away those realizations.
I think as I watched her play my mind relaxed, my world got a little bit smaller, and I was able to see things from her perspective. She doesn’t care about folding laundry, what’s for dinner, or all the appointments we have to get to this week. All she cared about in that moment was transporting a handful of cloth diapers from one side of the room to the other. She were enjoying each moment of her life as it was happening.
How often do we rush through our days, focusing on what is ahead instead of what is what is right in front of us? How often do we look forward to the next outing, the next adventure, or even the next nap? And then, we reminisce, cry, and swoon over old baby photos saying what happened, it seems like yesterday they were just babies! We focus on the past, we think about good times gone by, and yet still miss the present.
I am so guilty of taking every moment my daughter is happily playing with something, preoccupied in her little world, to get something done. Oh, what a trap that can be! Now of course we have to get things done. We have to fulfill our responsibilities and do the things that keep our lives running. But, what if we stopped, once a day, to appreciate the present, like a toddler does?
What if we didn’t think about what has happened, or what will happen, but only what is happening right now, taking in the beautiful happenings all around us, appreciating the laundry haul, appreciating the unloading of the cabinets, and the transfer of every single toy across the room repeatedly?
So, I challenge you, take a minute to watch them. Watch them play. Don’t wait until you’re going through old photo albums to appreciate the quirks, frustrations, and happiness of each memory. Do it now. Just watch. You won’t regret it for a second. Watch them now so when you look back you can smile, and appreciate how you made the most of each and every little moment.
How about you?