18 Minutes of Quiet Joy

September 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm 2 comments

The other night I was spending time with my son while my wife and daughter were out attending a Zumba class. Had this happened a year ago I would have been desperately looking for a way to keep the boy contained while I got some much-needed chores accomplished. But these days I am seeing things a little differently. I decided to just focus on having some one-on-one time with my big beast of happiness and leave the messes and incomplete projects for another day.

Bonding With The Boy

We did all of our usual things: wrestling, tickling, eating puffs, practicing our walking, and hanging upside down. Then about twenty minutes before the rest of the family was due to come home my son started getting sleepy. That wasn’t unusual because he sometimes takes an early evening nap. At the time I had Pandora open on the laptop and it was playing my “space” channel, which features meditative, ambient music.

Soon a quiet, wonderfully rhythmic song began to play from an album by David Darling. I picked up my son and snuggled him up into me as the song played. In less than a minute the song plus my gentle rocking put the big boy to sleep. Together we swayed for the entire track, clinging to each other as the evening sunlight streamed through the blinds.

Embracing the Stillness

I will never forget that stretch of time. There was a feeling of having a complete bond with this new little person. He needed to feel secure enough with me to relax and sleep. I needed to feel like I was the man who would provide that security for him now and whenever he needs it. I was holding on to him as much as he was holding on to me and I felt as close to my son at that moment as a Dad ever could.

Though the song lasted a good 18 minutes, my mind has compressed it into mere seconds. That’s how it is for all of our memories of parenting. We remember only pieces, see vignettes in our mind of crazy Christmas mornings or long, summer afternoons on sunny beaches. They are only a fraction of the total amount of time that went by. Yet they are a form of highly concentrated joy because your entire experience of those moments gets compressed into a flash that comes rushing at you at the speed of memory.

A Promise Kept

A couple of months ago I wrote about the many mistakes I make when raising my kids. That hour-plus of time with my son was my attempt at making good on a promise. Amid the storm of child-rearing and all of its attendant frustrations and humiliations, it felt like I had done something right.

My life is not perfect, but it can have its perfect moments. I hope I never forget this one because the heart flutter I feel when I recall those 18 minutes of quiet joy is a reminder that being a dad is the greatest job in the world.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. happiestdaddy  |  October 15, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    Before my wedding, a good friend told me to take a moment every hour and soak in all the joy, emotion and laughter that surrounded us. My friend’s point was that the day mora so quickly we need to slow the time down as simply enjoy the present. I find parenting to be the same way. Already our oldest is nearly 2 and a half and the days fly by. I enjoyed the way you captured the fleeting nature of our favorite memories. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • 2. Hop Dad  |  October 16, 2012 at 8:47 am

      You’re friend is right about the need to enjoy the present. With parenthood you engage in so much planning and preparation for events to come that often one can neglect being a parent in the present moment.

      Thank you for the comment and taking the time to read the post!

      Reply

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