Earlier this week, I went to a physician for an annual checkup. Although, for me, the last time I had this “annual” checkup was about three years ago. My excuse for this negligence happened to accompany me to my doctor that morning: my 2-year-old, Anna.
Yes, Anna goes everywhere with me these days—literally. Errands during the day (grocery store, post office, you name it). My bed, most nights. The restroom, the locker room at the Y, and now my doctor’s appointment.
I tried to schedule this appointment for when my parents would be in town to babysit, but it just didn’t work out. So that morning, I told the medical assistant at the doctor’s office, “I appreciate that you all don’t mind my bringing my daughter.”
She replied, “Don’t worry.” Then she addressed Anna with a smile: “Would you like some stickers?”
Anna smiled back and shook her head. “How ‘bout lollipops?” Anna’s doctor, the pediatrician, has stickers and lollipops.
The medical assistant laughed and left to find lollipops. When she returned, she gave Anna the sweets and then turned her attention back to me. She asked me when I had last had a checkup.
“Three years ago, which I know is bad,” I began explaining. “I was pregnant with Anna, then I had Anna, then I was busy with both my daughters, then we moved, then…”
The medical assistant smiled kindly. “It’s OK,” she said. “You’re here today.”
You’re here today.
Anna smiled back and shook her head. “How ‘bout lollipops?”
The rest of my appointment went smoothly. The physician turned out to be kind as well, and Anna, thankfully, was happily occupied with lollipops, stickers and coloring books for the rest of our time there. I was grateful to have found such a great doctor’s office in our town.
After we left, I kept thinking back to what the medical assistant had said: You’re here today. Her words stayed with me all day.
You’re here today—what an uplifting message.
The medical assistant was assuring me, Don’t worry about what happened, or didn’t happen, the past few years. Today you’re on the right track. Focus on the present—what’s right in front of you.
Easier said than done sometimes, right, friends?
The next morning, Grace wanted to color a picture to mail to my grandmother. She couldn’t find the crayons. “Mom!” she called.
As it turned out, the crayons were on the kitchen table—truly, right in front of her. “Grace, remember, what’s the secret of life?” I said.
“Look,” Grace replied. Then she looked and spotted the crayons. “They’re right here!”
We both laughed.
Parents often have little sayings or words of wisdom that they say, over and over again, to their children—to the point where, possibly, they become annoying to hear. At some point in my motherhood, I said to the girls, “I’m going to tell you the secret of life. The secret is to look. Open your eyes.”
I don’t remember what prompted me to say that. (Maybe, like this most recent time, somebody didn’t see something that was right there.) And I don’t pretend to know the secret of life.
Myriad talents, from entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs to singers like James Taylor, have reflected on “the secret of life.” I can’t stay the pace with those reflections. Anyway, the “secret of life” spiel I give my daughters is, partly, tongue-in-cheek.
I do believe, though, that it’s important to look—to be present.
The medical assistant reminded me of that “be in the present” perspective when she said, “You’re here today.”
“The secret is to look. Open your eyes.”
A couple of weekends ago, my friend Kathleen came to visit. Kathleen and I went to school together from kindergarten through high school. We’re what the kids today call “Day 1’s”—friends for a long time.
As always, it was wonderful to see Kathleen and catch up. We reminisced about childhood moments. At one point, I grimaced at the memory of something my younger self had done and told Kathleen, “I can’t believe I was that person!”
I thought back to some other memories from the past. Things I wish I had done, or hadn’t. Moments I wish I had been there for, but wasn’t. I thought again—to myself this time—I wish I did that differently.
I wish I had been different.
You can’t go back. You can’t go back, friends.
You’re here today. What you can do is take what you’ve learned from the past and make good with it in your present.
And you can be present.
For all the years-behind annual checkups and annoying little sayings I blame on my daughters, they have brought a joy to my life I know I don’t deserve. They are absolute gifts in my life, friends.
One of the most humbling parts of my day is when Grace and Anna want to show me something they worked on in kindergarten or preschool. They’re so proud to share their newest math worksheet or watercolor painting with me. They hand it to me, beam at me, wait for me to tell them it’s wonderful and bear-hug them.
“Look! Me too, Mom! Look!”
You’re here TODAY.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “What Happens Next.” A story that’s heartfelt, relevant and can’t-put-it-down good.