During a recent late-night nursing session, I was reading a spiritual book when my mind started to drift. I began to reflect upon my day when, what at first appeared to be a random moment, began to stand out in my mental file cabinet of moments lived.
The memory went something like this:
I was scurrying around the kitchen immersed in dinner preparation when my 4-year-old discovered a pile of wilted dandelions on the kitchen counter.
“Mommy! You forgot to put the flowers in a vase!” she cried.
“I know, I know. It doesn’t matter. Go and play. I’m trying to get dinner ready.”
She stood there silently for a moment. This is my sensitive, contemplative child. She gingerly touched the flowers, and then she softly said, “They’re dead.”
“That’s what happens to flowers when you pick them,” I told her.
I didn’t even look in to her eyes. I didn’t pause. I continued chopping and stirring, convinced that getting dinner on the table was a more pressing matter.
My daughter stood there a moment longer before shuffling out of the kitchen.
As the scene replayed in my mind, I began to cry.
My feeling daughter and I share a receptive heart, only the frenetic pace and busyness of life sometimes eclipses my own heart.
I considered those forgotten flowers. It was just a little thing. I wasn’t overly callous or sharp. I was just busy, indifferent.
It doesn’t matter, I said. But it did matter to my daughter. Very much so. I took her gift to me, her love for me for granted.
I couldn’t save those flowers. They were already dead and probably would have died quickly even if I’d dropped them in a vase with water. But I could keep my heart from wilting, from closing itself and becoming impervious to a child’s feelings.
The next day I pulled my daughter aside and said, “I’m sorry I forgot to put the flowers you’d given in a vase. They were special to me and so are you.”
“It’s alright,” she said.
And she meant it. I’m so grateful children are so open to apologies and eager to forgive.
After a quick hug, my daughter went off to play, a skipping exclamation point excited about life and the possibilities it holds. And I walked away with a flowering heart, aware of my children’s delicacy, and open to their little feelings that, I remind myself, have big meaning.