It was a Tuesday evening like any other.
Got off of work, went to dance. Ran in to check Lexi's homework and managed to find her missing jazz shoes that another child had accidentally grabbed last week. Picked up Charlie to bring back home from her dance class in the preschool room and loaded her up in the car. Gave the hubby a quick kiss after he helped her get buckled in, then headed home with all I had to do on my mind.
Find some dinner for myself. Not really hungry though.
Pack lunches for tomorrow.
Figure out my outfit for tomorrow.
Unload the dishwasher.
Sweep the floors.
Put a load of laundry in. I should probably fold the two baskets that are down there too.
Eh, let's be honest. That ain't happening. The folding at least.
Clean up kitchen.
Get Charlie in the bath.
As all of this was running through my head, Charlie was keeping up a steady chatter despite claiming not five minutes earlier that she was not talking to me because I would not let her play a game on my phone because I am an asshole parent like that. She started to talk about what we were going to do when we got home, and I teasingly told her we were going to poop our pants. She started to laugh and said, "Mama, I'm not a baby!"
"Aren't you my baby, Charlie?"
"Well, yes, but I'm still big, Mama."
She then got quiet for a few minutes after this, obviously thinking. She then asked:
"Mama, are you done growing?"
"Yes, I am."
"Well, then, why are you getting older still? You aren't growing but you keep getting older and older..."
"You get older even after you stop growing, Charlie."
"So, are you going to die?"
(Now we need some background here. Dorothy passed away a few days ago. Charlie was pretty devastated and of course we had the whole death conversation and how it is pretty much a permanent thing and the opposite of sleeping and being awake, if you could have a third option for opposites that is. So death was fresh on her mind; its not like she is going through some kind of emo/goth stage here. Though Elizabeth did go through a period at just slightly older than Charlie where all she would wear was this black witch's dress from an old Halloween costume, so who knows. Anyways...)
"Not for a long time, I hope baby."
"Will you live to be a thousand, Mama?"
"I'm certainly not planning on dying any time soon, Charlie."
This seemed to satisfy her, but it got my mind going. All of a sudden, all of those things that I was planning on doing seemed unimportant. I had no desire to plan for the next day until Charlie went to bed. I did not want to do the housework that would still be waiting for me until the day I'm finally crazy and/or senile enough to be locked away for my own good (and let's be honest, for society's good as well).
So...I did none of that.
We decided to have some ice cream and read through a dancewear catalog. I let her have a scoop of both mint chocolate chip and mint Oreo ice cream. We chose the best outfits on each page and debated the merits of a flowy skirt vs. a plain leotard. We rolled out the yoga mat and practiced her cartwheel. I told her I would learn to do one along with her and we practiced mine. We gave each other pointers. Then we put on music and danced our asses off until it was time for her to get in the shower.
In typical Charlie fashion, of course, she managed to slip in the shower and bust her eye on the faucet and is now likely going to have a black eye. As I was drying her off and comforting her, she asked me if people were going to make fun of her because she had the black eye. We snuggled on the couch and held ice on it and she wondered if people would just think that she did a really bad job of putting some "eyelash" on (which is what she calls eye shadow). She asked if I thought people would make fun of her (talk about another shot to the heart...) She then wondered why she always is the one who gets hurt.
"First stitches in my head, Mama, then my chin. Now I have a black eye!"
I wonder, had she not asked me about dying earlier, if I would have been as likely to let the comforting linger like I had. Would I have taken the time to snuggle as much, or would I have felt antsy thinking about what I had to do? When did I stop trying to be mindful and start being a stressed out, over exhausted, and burned out parent/wife/coworker? Why did it take a question about my mortality to make me stop and start living?
I feel horrible about all of the potential moments I have missed out on because of lacking mindfulness. Will my children remember it? Is it too late? Will my kids, when I do (hopefully decades in the future) die, remember me actually living, or will they only remember the stress, frustration, anxiety, depression, and illness?
What a wake up call. What a re-birth. Time to start living again.