Early this morning I was running on my treadmill in the basement, very excited about a guilt-free hour of bad TV. All of a sudden I heard what sounded like elephants running on an African plain upstairs above me.
Nooooo. Ugh. Too soon! I was only 12 minutes into my Real Housewives episode! I give my kids the post-sunrise hours, but this precious early one is mine.
First I tried denial. I ran on, convinced the thumping was just a figment of my imagination or static in my headphones.
I had about forty-five glorious seconds in Never Never (Heard Them) Land before it came again.
Still I ran on, reassured because I had put a gate in the doorway of my twins’ room. I knew they couldn’t get themselves into much trouble in there. I figured I had at least until the next commercial break. I fantasized they turned on the lights and were paging through board books, or, even better, had decided to get back into their beds and fall asleep.
But then the thumping got louder. And, unfortunately, broader. I could tell the jailbirds had busted out and were running wild every inch of our Suburban plain upstairs.
I quickly surveyed my house in my head, noting the dangers they
could would probably absolutely encounter.
So, as all parents do, I reluctantly surrendered my time to theirs and resolved to set my alarm a little earlier tomorrow.
I jumped off, grabbed my sweatshirt, and headed upstairs to reign in my little rascals.
I opened the door to the basement and peeked out into the kitchen.
And then I witnessed some magic.
I saw my three kids walking from the family room to the kitchen, the six-year-old in front and the two-year-olds in line behind him, all with pjs, tousled hair, and blankets in tow. It reminded me of a mama duck and her ducklings.
From the mouth of my eldest babe, I heard these words:
Okay guys. What do you want for breakfast? Waffles or pancakes?
My jaw dropped. I stepped down a few steps, put my back against the wall, and closed my eyes. I smiled the biggest smile I’ve smiled in a really long time.
This was a big moment for me.
It was more than an “oh how time flies” moment or a “kids grow up so fast” moment.
In that scene, I saw glimpses of self-reliance. I saw glimpses of confidence. I saw glimpses of kindness and harmony.
I saw a little bit of what it takes—of what it will take for them to succeed in the big world.
The what it takes is what it’s all about.
It’s why we do what we do. It’s what makes it all worthwhile. It’s why we are able to let go, little by little.
That’s the gig for a parent—to pass on what it takes. And every once in a while we get to see that what we try to pass on, is, actually, passed on. There lies the magic.
Of course, our kids aren’t born with what it takes.
And what it takes doesn’t fall out of the sky into their laps.
So whenever we see a glimpse of it, we need to smile and give ourselves a little pat on the back.
Show me a man who has what it takes.
And I’ll bet that very same man once had a mom who smiled when she saw her little boy make his own waffles.