This poem I believe I found on a website called “Parent Soup Toddler” back around 2001.
I ran into a stranger as he passed by,
“Oh, excuse me, please” was my reply.
He said, “Please excuse me, too;
I wasn’t watching for you.”
We were very polite, this stranger and I.
We went on our way and we said good-bye.
But at home a different story is told.
How we treat our loved ones, young and old.
Later that day, cooking the evening meal.
My son stood beside me very still.
When I turned, I nearly knocked him down.
“Move out of the way,” I said with a frown.
He walked away, his little heart broken.
I didn’t realize how harshly I’d spoken.
While I lay awake that night in my bed,
God’s still, small voice came to me and said,
“While dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use,
But the children you love, you seem to abuse.
Go and look on the kitchen floor,
You’ll find some flowers there by the door.
Those are the flowers he brought for you.
He picked them himself: pink, yellow, and blue.
You never saw the tears that filled his little eyes.”
By this time I felt very small,
And now my tears began to fall.
I quietly went and knelt by his bed;
“Please wake up, little one,” I said.
“Are these the flowers you picked for me?”
He smiled, “I found ’em out by the tree.
I picked ’em because they’re pretty like you.
I knew you’d like ’em , especially the blue.”
I said, “Son, I’m very sorry for the way I acted today;
I shouldn’t have yelled at you that way.”
He said, “Oh, Mom, that’s okay.
I love you anyway.”
I said, “Son, I love you too, and
I do like the flowers, especially the blue.”
I don’t think I need to say anything. I do know that I have been both that child and that mother. I have been that mommy even while knowing this and trying to be very aware and conscious and mindful of everything (my thoughts, my actions, who’s around me, etc.), I still would get caught up in a rush to get dinner on the table or to get out the door. I think I practically stopped breathing. I was stressed and not getting my required oxygen to my brain which resulted in the fight or flight primitive mechanism kicking in and resulted in me talking somewhat like a cavewoman, “You. Sit. No. You. Here. Eat. Sit. Now.” at mealtime and out the door was more like, “You. Jacket. Here. Shoes. No. Sit. You. Put on. Now. Good. Car.” Maybe it wasn’t quite that bad and thankfully not that often but just one of those negative moments that seems to erase 1,000 positive patient moments. I never thought that was fair. That the positive moments were just so gentle and soft and sweet and often filled days with their kindness and then one negative moment felt like a tidal wave wiping away all of that sweetness. Even then I tried to live Louise Hay’s affirmation that “I am exactly where I need to be. Everything is in perfect order.” Because of this, I noticed starting noticing sooner and sooner different aspects as I tuned into my life, my body, my mind, “Oh, I have not eaten anything.” “Oh, I really don’t feel well.” No wonder I was getting cranky, I was trying to shove through my day and I wasn’t recognizing that I was not eating or feeling well or that maybe my kids were not feeling well.
I also noticed that there is a sort of magical serendipity when I let go of where I thought I should be and where I actually was. Because if I was supposed to be there, I would be, but I was not. I was where I was supposed to be. When I accepted that I wasn’t supposed to have made that green light, be eight minutes earlier, or been in front of that person who just got in front of me in line and I looked at it constantly from a spiritual, mystical perspective, there was a shift in my patience level for all of the mundane things in life and especially in those moments with my kids where something that should take five minutes would inevitably take eighteen which resulted in now being “late.” But when I would take a breath (more oxygen!), leave for a moment, and know that we were exactly where we were supposed to be, the stress and tension would lift and patience, calm voices, and gentleness would take their place.
And then I would notice (not every time mind you), who and what we saw being exactly where we were, that we wouldn’t have seen if were the eight minutes earlier I thought we should be. Sometimes it was a friend that if we were five seconds earlier or later we would have completely missed and it ends up being a fun play date for my kids. Sometimes, it’s holding the door open for someone or having someone open the door for us. Sometimes it’s seeing a cute dog or a funny looking car. And even if it’s not true, I am happier and more patient living exactly where I am supposed to be and I get flowers in the vase faster with less sadness and tears and capture that special child generosity energy into my heart at the first fresh moment when they have a flower or a rock or a drawing or other interesting thing to show or tell me that I cannot get back with a “just a minute, tell me in a moment” moment because that energy diffuses along with that first burst of enthusiasm. I also give more hugs of appreciation than “I’m sorry hugs.” And that has made all the difference.