Tales from the Trenches: The Ah-Ha MomentThe Ah-ha Moment
by brenda maas
January is traditionally a time for resolutions. A time for reflection. And, a time for new beginnings. But the pressure to follow-through on big resolutions like cutting caffeine, losing weight or changing some such vice are often recipes for failure. I’ve decided on a more-gentle, family-friendly approach (does that sound like a commercial or what?).
Flash back to early December. I’m in the Minneapolis airport and had just called a huddle with my three boys—we went over how we were going to check the bag, go through security, walk in a certain order and meet Brett at our departure gate. The game plan was set. While I discover that my monster suitcase is a mere 1.5 pounds over-weight and am frantically transferring ski gloves and woolen socks into my all-ready bulging carry-on, I glance up for a check on the boys. Not where I left them. A second, farther look and I see all three of them, upright on a luggage cart, moving in unison (for the first time that weekend) and attempting to rock it down the airport hall.
Inside my head I scream, “What have I done to deserve this?!”
It was an “Ah-ha” moment, I’m often a slow-learner, but perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of parenting that I’ve experienced is how much my kids can actually teach me if I only watch and listen.
As infants, my sons taught me that if you try and try again, eventually you roll over. In the toddler years I learned that it’s ok to fall down, just get up, dust off your bum and carry on. In the preschool years I re-learned the wonders of the world: jumping in puddles feels good; rainbows are pretty and spending time watching bugs is time well-spent.
These days my Ah-ha moments are different but no less meaningful: when our 1st-grader wiped out his two older brothers and me in Monopoly, we learned that sometimes the underdog does indeed win; when I watch a video that my 11-year-old shot of thousands of ducks circling, circling, circling and finally landing to feed in a cornfield with his comment, “I am eleven years old and I will never forget this,” I was reminded that the time we spent watching insects truly was very well-spent. And, when my practical, logical, winsome ten-year-old impersonates a nutcracker saying, “Ah, nuts,” I am once again educated on the fundamental concept that combining the simple and mundane with humor is strong medicine in itself.
Back in the Minneapolis airport I was reminded that no matter how good your game plan is, it can be hijacked. And, sometimes you just have to go with it.
An Ah-ha moment is time to pause. Time to take stock. Time to appreciate something or someone exactly as it is. In sociology circles, this is sometimes called the “attitude of gratitude” and studies have proven that those who are thankful live longer, healthier lives than those who are not.
So, instead of a resolution this year, I challenge every parent reading this to seek—on a daily basis—an Ah-ha moment. Find it in your partner, your parents, your children—it is there, you just have to look for it and recognize it. Then, sit back and enjoy. Ah-ha…
Brenda Maas and her husband Brett live south of Billings with their three sons. She's thankful that Jenny & Kim gave her an opportunity to share her often rambling, Ah-ha moments with Simply Family readers for yet another year.