Originally posted on Huffington Post
I was out for a breezy afternoon stroller walk with my toddlers when I had an epiphany.
An inkling. An understanding.
It’s the only time of day that I have them strapped into one place — where their buzzing bodies remain temporarily stationary and static, giving me time for clarity, reflection, and bits of quiet.
Amid bending over to collect fallen and discarded toys, shoes, and pretzels, and saying “Yes, baaaallll. Yes, caaarrrr” 20 times, I got to thinking about how so many of us devote our lives to caring for and nurturing children. We want the best for them. The best health, the best resources, the best education, the best nutrition, the best opportunities. Whether we are parents, caregivers, educators, family, or friends, there seems to be a collective understanding that children deserve the very best.
I passed a small group of young men who were chatting and smoking. They scooted away as they saw me approaching. They held their cigarettes at arm’s length - opposite our direction - as we passed by in our monstrous double stroller. That was nice of them, I thought. They don’t want the babies to breathe in that toxic smoke.
Teenagers held the door open for me at the coffee shop. Men and women (old and young) smiled at us as we passed by, or stopped me to chat and fuss over my girls.
While we walked I made sure they had enough snacks. Enough water. That the blankets were covering their small feet.
When we got home I started thinking about preparing their dinner. Did they get enough fruit today? Enough vegetables? Enough protein? Where they rested? Did they get enough time to play?
I marveled over their growing bodies, clapped when they tried something new, and soaked in the enchanting way their baby legs and tummies looked as they ran through the house without inhibition.
I began to wonder why we don’t treat ourselves the way we treat children. Why is the smoke OK for us to inhale? Why don’t we hold the door open for everyone? Why don’t we smile and stop to chat with strangers? Why do we forget to feed ourselves the things we need - and the things we love? Why don’t we make sleep a priority, and make more time for doing the things we love?
Children are precious, ever-growing creatures.
But so are we.
What if we celebrated each other for the little things? Appreciated and loved our bodies for everything that they’ve been through, for everything that they do for us on a daily basis? What if we got lost in the moment a little bit more often? What if we let ourselves be truly free?
I get it, kids have that adorable factor — and let me be the first to tell you that the demands and responsibilities of adulthood can sit heavy on your shoulders. They can swallow up your time, and saturate your thoughts. They can rob you of sleep, of spontaneity, and of energy.
But what if we tried, just a little bit, to treat ourselves the way we treated children?
How would things be different?
Just for today, absorb yourself in...yourself.
- Gail Okeeffe