Through the Eyes of a Three Year Old


The other night, I was talking to one of my dear friends who is a mom with a teenager. We were talking about the holiday season. “Lisa, isn’t it awesome to have a three year old at Christmas?! Everything is magical!” She said.

I stopped. Earlier that day, we had been hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree, which, now-a-days is a several day “process.” (Notice now I see it as a “process”? We’ll get to that!) My three year old wanted to stand and rock on the arm of the Lazy Boy chair so she could reach the tippy-top of the tree. My six year old son was half dancing to Christmas music, half doing karate moves in our small, cozy front room as he put up ornaments wherever his moves took him. And my husband?! Totally serene. There were a few piles of ornaments all over the floor and Brian was completely ok with it.

I sat there – pissed.

“Brian!” I said, “This is so unorganized and chaotic!” I balked.

“What?! It’s fine, Lisa,” He said, in his totally-at-peace tone of voice which, for those of you who know Brian, is his “I should’ve been a Zen monk on a mountain top or maybe I’ve been one in a past life” way of being. Which
just infuriated me even more.

“Watch her! She’s going to fall!” I continued my balking.

“She’s got it, Lis.”

“Someone’s going to step on all these ornaments!”

“It’s ok, Lis. Really. It is.”

Brian moved some of the piles closer to him and moved them out of my way.

And then I felt it. A wave of several emotions. Shame came crashing inside my ribs. I could tell that this was perfect for Brian – the “chaos”, the “going with the flow”, the “mess”, the “just being here” – all before I came in. He loves decorating the tree and every year, I go into stress mode doing it. He wants and asks for so little. He goes with my flow. But I could tell he just wanted to let this moment of all for us together…be. Be as it is. Be light-hearted. I saw how there was magic before I arrived, how the kiddos were sooooo in their element, and how everything was, in fact, calm – before I came in.

Back to my girlfriend on the phone. “Magical?” I thought, as my girlfriend who is such a gem – a fellow yogini, Capricorn, deep soul and big heart, went on to tell me her version of how three year olds see Christmas – the magic, the lights, the mystery, the warmth, the textures, the scents, the activities. I sat there on the phone now thinking about how my three year old daughter saw decorating the tree:

Her face was soft, eyes focused and full as she looked at, savored, and lingered with each ornament – how it shined, how it felt in her hands, the care she used when she handled the fragile ones.

I thought about how she’s been this holiday season. Yes, there will be moments of big excitement, I’m sure. But I’m not talking about the over-the-top holiday light shows or going to FAO Schwartz in New York (some day, but not this year). I’m noticing now the quieter side of awe, the deeper sense of delight, the “I’m fully in this” posture, the deep look of “this is amazing.”

~ The gleefulness in her eyes as she squeezes neon glitter glue to make cards as gifts.

~ The look of deep delight on her face as she holds a pencil and carefully writes each letter of her name.

~ The way she is totally absorbed in the sensation of being in her bare feet, opening the kitchen door, running onto the freshly fallen snow, and running back inside.

~ The deep “with my whole heart and body” prayerful presence she has when we gather at the advent calendar and with her eyes squinted tightly shut, she makes the sign of the cross and says a prayer.

~ The look of quiet awe as she rests on the couch looking at our tree.

~ The “I’m fully loving this!” way she plopped down in the snow and made a snow angel.

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And so when my friend asked me, “Isn’t it magical?” it woke me up. It woke me up to see my choice: to jump in and swim in the waters of delight, play, and awe of the season – or get so bent out of shape about how tidy, perfect, orderly, organized, and prepared I am.

Yes I get it. We can’t all go around every single minute of the day as mesmerized three year olds. Someone has to buy presents, organize the “to do” lists, etc. But at times I can do it with delight. I can participate and linger in the magic. I can join my daughter as she left mass the other day – honestly – trying to catch snowflakes with her tongue. I can reflect on and engage in the season of Advent – of waiting and readying my heart – rather than getting annoyed at all the holiday traffic. I can join Brian and snuggle on our couch, in our cozy front room, after the kiddos are in bed, and be grateful for the blessings right here in the ordinary.

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*Dear friends, take a moment and see the holiday season from a child’s perspective. If you have pint-sized kiddos, it’s crazy, but sometimes it’s totally eye and heart opening to get down on their level (I’m talking HEIGHT here!) and see what they see.

Or imagine that you are seeing things for the FIRST time and notice how you look at things differently.

Or…(and you know I’d bring this up. It keeps things real and in perspective), imagine how you’d see this season if this was your LAST Christmas.

Yep, there’s the awe. There’s the delight. There’s the slowing down and lingering.

Here’s to waking up every single chance we get this holiday season to the delight in the ordinary. The quiet side of awe.  The magic. The miraculous in the messy.

Be gentle with yourselves, dear hearts.

I will be back at the beginning of January. I’m going to take the next few weeks and (attempt to!) unplug, be present, listen, laugh, and more deeply embrace the delight in our everyday lives.

Many blessings,

barefootideaslogo ** Friends, I’m glad you are a part of this community. If you’d like to receive Gems in your inbox, click “follow.” I hope today you are inspired to live with more delight, compassion, and connection in your everyday life. Visit the Barefoot Barn for more information or contact me about mindful/compassion coaching, psychotherapy, workshops and retreats.

Give them PRESENCE

present‘Tis the season…for overwhelm.  Every Xmas, I tend to get overwhelmed.  My love language is NOT gift giving – especially in “have to” gift-giving times.  I am not one of those moms who knows the “right” toys for certain ages.  I don’t know the “cool gifts”, heck I don’t even know what styles are “in” right now for me!  With our children now in full “magic of Christmas” swing, I can so see how moms/parents could get consumed by the whole present thing and lose sight of what is most important.

I found myself the other night with Brian after the kiddos were asleep and the contents of Santa’s bag spread out on our kitchen floor, seeing what we had and making sure everyone had “enough” of the “right” stuff.  I found myself spending waaaaaaaay too much time checking our “lists” and getting more and more anxious – did Clara have enough?  Is it “balanced” in terms of “girly stuff’ and stuff that actually challenges her?  What about Aidan – he’s not that in to superheroes any more and more in to magic – do we give him the superhero stuff we had left over from last year?  And Brian – I can’t find him that sweater he wants, I even had Maria on the search, what do I do if I can’t find him anything?”   In comes “overwhelm.”

It’s all self-induced.  Our families are pretty chilled.  I probably wouldn’t have to have anything for anyone (ok, besides the kiddos) if I didn’t want to.  But I want to have something for them.  Yes, yes, I could make things – and I often do.  But even then, trying to decide WHAT to make folks can leave me feeling pretty overwhelmed.

What I’d really like to give for xmas?  Presence.  What I’d really like to receive for xmas?  Presence.

I mean, come on, do any of us really “need” any THING?  “Presence” is such a hot commodity these days.  Our undivided, un-opinionated, un-rushed presence.  Our mindful attention to another person that communicates, “I see you” and “I’m in no rush.”

Could you imagine – a little note under the tree saying, “Brian, this xmas, I’m giving you my presence.  My compassionate attention when you are tired in the morning.  My un-rushed kiss as we get the kiddos off to school.  My silence when I’d rather say something about how you aren’t doing it ‘my’ way.  My eyes open to really SEE you and see how I might make your day lighter.”

He’d love it.  And that truly would be an act of love – to mindfully and heartfully remind myself to offer my PRESENCE throughout the year.

I think that’s what I’m giving my friends.  Yes, I’m pretty good about being there for my friends.  But I could add a dash of  not rushing and just “I see you.”

I recently was listening to a podcast by Tara Brach.  She told the story of a mom who had terminal cancer and decided that with whatever time she did have, she’d live by this motto: “No time to rush.” 

no time to rush

None of us know when our last breath will be.  None of us have time to rush.  That isn’t meant to scare us.  It’s meant to open our hearts and eyes to the reality that this life is precious and short.  It’s meant to prompt us to give our sweet, loving presence – to our own hearts, our dear ones, and this world.

Happy presence giving!

still magnificent

I dropped my camera.  Right before all the action began on Christmas Eve.  We were walking in the woods behind my parents’ house, investigating a huge tree that had fallen over and was completely hollow inside.   The rest of my family was at home playing “Elves” — putting out all the presents.  Santa would arrive while we were out with the munchkins. 

On our way home, we saw a dog was loose.  Little C. doesn’t exactly like dogs.  She huddled close to me – well, actually, more like she clung to me.  And I couldn’t hold everything – stroller, baby, and camera.  The camera fell.  Lens broke.  But…not before I could capture some of the magic of this weekend…

C. taking picture of my parents' cat

climbing the hallowed out tree that fell

a sweet hug that lingered for a long time with her godfather

The dead hollow tree, still magnificent. How is that — even in death? Is that how these moments we capture are – on film, in our hearts, on paper — long after our death? Is that how we are? Still magnificent? That what remains — after all that has been dropped and hollowed out — is magnificent?

Copyright. 2013. All rights reserved. No portion of any post may be copied without written permission from the author. The advice offered herein does not constitute a substitute for professional psychological treatment, therapy, or other types of professional advice and intervention. The self-help contents are solely the opinion of the blogger and should not be considered as a form of therapy, advice, direction and/or diagnosis or treatment of any kind: medical, spiritual, mental, or other. If expert advice or counseling is needed, the services of a competent professional should be sought.

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