Mapquest to Joy: First You Gotta Show Up!
This afternoon my 17 year old daughter Sophie called me from her job at the local ice cream shop to tell me they asked her to stay until close and requested that I bring her dinner. As a family we work hard to be as environmentally friendly as possible and I am passionate about feeding my kids healthy food. I made Sophie two vegetarian bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches (on bread with NO corn syrup!) and some organic strawberries. I placed the food on real dishes (we don’t use most paper products any more) and brought the food to her. As I was walking across the town square carrying the food to her, I felt a profound sense of joy. I am a Jewish mother, so feeding people is a part of my very essence. As crazy as it may sound, at that moment, walking that delightfully healthy but also equally delicious (and truly beautiful looking) plate of food to my daughter felt like a supreme moment. I don’t know if this feeling is something others can understand. Perhaps it was the conscious thought I put into making that food healthy combined with the simplicity of what I was doing…nurturing Sophie both physically with the food and emotionally with my presence…I’m not sure exactly what it was, but I just felt great joy.
As I was thinking about what it was that inspired that joy, my mind wandered to Sophie’s (and her 2 brothers’) father. I felt a sense of sadness as I realized, probably for the first time, what he really was missing. I always knew that his complete absenteeism from his children’s lives would ultimately be his loss. I knew he was missing out. But I think today, as I brought that meal to my daughter, I felt deep in my soul, exactly what he is missing. It is those simple moments that cannot ever be explained, but only experienced. And you have to be there to experience them.
So, yes, I am tired…very tired. 20 years of conscious parenting, raising children who are ethical, strong, free spirited and happy is really hard work. Like any parent, I have always known intellectually, no matter how hard it was, that the payoff would be worth it. But during those moments like today, as I carried that food to Sophie, it wasn’t my intellect telling me this was a good moment. It was my heart and my spirit. And that was worth every ounce of tiredness that I have ever felt as a parent.