“Mom!” my son said, running through the front door after school. Handing me an brightly colored hand-drawn invitation he made, he said, “It’s for our Mother’s Day Tea at our school on Friday!”
I looked at the invitation and my heart beamed! My son doesn’t love to draw. He’d much rather prefer to show his love by going on a walk with me, shooting hoops, riding our bikes, or having late-night chats. So when I saw that he actually drew and COLORED my personalized invitation, I was so moved. I knew this took effort…and sincere desire to show his love for me. This gesture so touched me. I started to tear up.
Yet it didn’t take me long to notice what was wrong: he misspelled “have.” I didn’t say anything. I so wanted to correct the “mistake.” I thought, “I could just pencil in the missing ‘e’ at the end.”
But I caught myself. I saw how I went from feeling expansive and open to feeling tight and closed. In those 10 seconds of noticing what was wrong, I was fixated on only one thing: perfection. I wasn’t connecting. I perfecting. And it didn’t feel good. It felt tight, narrow-focused, tinged with anxiety.
I looked up at my son who was still smiling, proud of his gift to me and looking to connect. I felt my heart. Being “right” and “correct” was isolating and lonely. I felt far off in some “distant land” of perfect grammar and spelling instead of right here in the “close embrace” of connecting.
I made a choice: “I choose delight.”
So I dropped the fixation on perfection. I decided to connect.
I looked up at my son and smiled. I told him how grateful I was. I lingered looking at the picture. “Tell me about the two people on the front of the card,” I asked him.
“That’s me and you! Drinking rootbeer floats and giving each other ‘cheers’!” He said.
And I felt it. DELIGHT.
Delight swam across my chest — a feeling of lightness, connection, and sweetness. I leaned over to kiss him and hug him.
As I hugged him and we talked, I watched him smiling. He was proud of himself. He felt connected to me. It “hit me” so hard how much power we have in parenting. If I had pointed out the missing “e,” we would’ve had a very different interaction. He would’ve felt crushed. We wouldn’t have felt connected.
It occurred to me that delight isn’t found in the narrow-focused noticing of what is wrong. Delight is found in connecting. It’s found in noticing what is beautiful in this human experience, not what is imperfect. Delight is found in joining and being alongside each other…with rootbeer floats.
That’s how I want to live my life.
Yes, yes, there are definitely times where correction is needed. I get that. But I believe our task as parents is wisely discerning:
– Is it necessary to correct right now?
– is this a moment to just connect and be with each other?
Because I’ve noticed over the last eight years of being a parent that I often over-correct and there are plenty of times I really don’t have to. And in those times when correcting really isn’t necessary, when I “notice the good and the beautiful,” a deep sense of delight flows through me. I sense the connection between me and my children. And then when I do need to correct? It’s done in a way that is first and foremost about connection. It’s empowering rather than destructive.
So today, this weekend, I’ll take noticing the rootbeer floats over noticing the missing “e.” This creates a lot more room for being human. That creates a lot more room for letting the beautiful evoke a deep sense of delight in our everyday lives.Blessings,