But, as I sit here reflecting on the day's highlights, I'm realizing it still wasn't enough.
The day started overcast and very dreary, as it has been for the last week. Time spent outside in this past week has been nearly non-existent, which for two active toddlers is its own form of torture, which also translates into its own form of torture for Mom. Am I right?
Fortune was on my side this afternoon, though, when the clouds cleared and sunlight streamed through our windows, begging us to come out and play. And, that we did as soon as the boys were up from their naps.
As I was getting the boys strapped into the stroller, I noticed a tiny, red ladybug on the siding of our house. I think it was the boys' first time with a ladybug, so I carefully picked her up and let her crawl on my hand, letting the boys watch its delicate movements. Then as I reached toward Ben, he willingly held out his pointed finger to get to know the little ladybug himself. He was so careful and gentle, allowing the ladybug to explore both sides of his hand. Hugh was a little more hesitant, but still curious enough to hold out his hand and have a turn.
Before taking off to the playground, I carefully placed the ladybug on a little flower plant by our front gate and felt so grateful for such a small moment of discovery and wonder that I was able to have with my two boys. So, see, there's my proof I did slow down today.
It was after spending a good glorious hour at the park, sliding down slides and swinging on swings and climbing up slides, that we came home and I went into serious dinner-prep mode. I was so singly focused on that one task that the earnest pleadings from Ben to understand his needs and fulfill his wants went grossly unheard.
I paused a couple of times to peer down at him, hoping it would all of a sudden became very clear what it was that he wanted, but I know I gave up much too easily and was much too hurried in my own task to understand what he was trying to communicate. I offered all of what I thought were the obvious options - crackers, water, Fireman Sam, cottage cheese - but each offer was met with a sharp shake of the head and a clear "eh", which in Ben language means a very emphatic "no!"
I'm mostly ashamed to admit that at one point I briefly lost my patience and responded with "I don't know what you want" in an exasperated tone of voice that even at his young age he felt hurt by and tears immediately welled up in his eyes.
That was enough to snap me out of my robot-like, dinner-prep mode. I knelt down in front of my sweet and sensitive little boy and took his face in my hands and told him I was sorry. I still didn't know what it was that he wanted, but I knew a little lollipop we got from Aunt Caryn would heal his wounds. And, it pretty much did.
A little bit later I was at the kitchen sink, washing my hands and Ben came up to me, with his lollipop stick cleaned off in record time, softly patted my little baby bump with both hands and looked up at me with his big blue eyes and said, "Mama." Right away I asked if he wanted some water and when he smiles and does his sweet little giggle that means "yes!" So, I got him a cup of water and almost didn't pause long enough to recognize the beauty of that little moment. Six months ago I would have begged for him to even say "mama", let alone have him approach me and call me by name with "Mama".
Today was a good reminder for this Mama that many of life's most precious moments are so small and so simple that if I don't slow down to recognize and capture them, they'll pass me by without any idea of what I'm missing out on.