Am I a Normal Parent?

The end of a year and beginning of the next is often a time for reflection. Time to consider both good and bad from the year that’s been and to plan for changes and good intentions for the year to come.

Along with reflecting back and planning for the future, the new year is also a time for resolutions. This year I have decided to forgo the traditional ones such as losing weight and exercising more. Instead, I have decided to live each day and to cherish each moment as if it were the last. I don’t mean for this to sound morbid. What I mean is that I will take on even the simplest and tedious tasks with more appreciation. I will feel more gratitude that I have the ability to do what I am doing – both mentally and physically – and will treasure the moment and not take it for granted.

I have my youngest sister, Alison, to thank for bringing this realization to the forefront of my conscious mind recently. She was telling me about an interaction between herself and her then 15 year old daughter: tired after a long day at school, my niece approached my sister with a request to wash her hair. My sister jumped at the opportunity. As she lathered her hair with shampoo, massaged her head and washed out the soapy suds, she spent extra time at something she had previously rushed through and taken for granted. So much so, that her daughter asked her to hurry it up. After she wrapped the towel around her daughter’s head and offered to comb out her hair (my niece declined this), my sister felt a lump in her throat and a tear in her eye as she remembered a time when washing her daughter’s hair was considered a laborious chore rather than the labour of love she felt that day.

Little did she know that this opportunity to connect with her daughter in such a nurturing way would be considered rare years ago when she longed for her youngest child to hurry up and be more independent.

This led my sister and me into a discussion about whether we might have treasured or experienced the last time we engaged in an activity differently if we knew it was the last.

What If I had known that the scrambled egg I made my dad and fed to him during his last conscious hours just before he passed would have been the last thing he ate? Would I have made the egg with even more tender loving care? What if I had known that the last time I snuggled in bed with my daughter as she fell asleep would be the last time she allowed me to do so? Would I have lingered a little bit longer, as opposed to counting down the minutes before I could go back to my own bed? What if I had known that the last time I fed my beloved pet would have been the final dish of food I put on his mat before he refused to eat and declined rapidly?

The bottom line is to try not to take things for granted or to rush through life. As the new year begins, savour each moment, appreciate every task – profound or menial – and linger just a little bit longer before moving on.

Wishing you and yours a meaningful, mindful new year!