When my children were small, perhaps two and six, I posted on a local email list that I was in search of second-hand wooden toys for my kids. A local man, maybe 20 years my senior, responded and invited me to stop by for some things he had set aside.
Standing in his driveway a few blocks from my home, he handed me a box containing a wooden catapult and a few other 15 or 20 year-old treasures. I thanked him, and he nodded, then looked me straight in the eyes and said, “If I can give you one piece of advice in life it’s this: play with your kids. Get down on the ground, push them in the swing, run around in the yard. Because one minute you’re down on the floor, roaring like a dinosaur, and the next minute they’re grown and gone. And it happens in an instant. So just be sure you enjoy them.”
I never forgot.
Ten years later, I attended a friend’s wedding. The groom was his youngest son. I pulled the father aside after the ceremony, my strangely tall, suddenly grown children off on adventures of their own, and said, “Years ago you gave me some wonderful advice.” I reminded him of what he said, so poignant on that day, and we both cried a little. I thanked him for sharing his wisdom with me that decade before. We shared a few more tears and a hug, then went off to celebrate with the bride and groom.
So, friends, if I were to offer you what Robert offered me, it would be this small piece of advice: never lose yourself in the day-to-day minutia or the false search for perfection. Take care of yourself, and take care of the things that keep you sane. But then make time to laugh, to play, to roar like a dinosaur.
Because before you know it, the world will have tilted on it’s axis once more, and there will be no small ones occupying your arms.
Be here. Right now. Sharing peals of laughter with these little ones who adore you; these humans who are so lucky as to have you by their side, while the stretch their wings and soar.