When I reached in the pocket behind the driver’s seat, my hand found a confusing tangle of different shapes and sizes. From the hard round beads of a strand of a necklace, to the the hard corners of a deck of cards, my fingers read the brail of a three year old’s heart. I had mistakenly stumbled upon the treasures she had tucked carefully away for safe keeping. A pastel Yogurtland spoon licked clean, daddy’s favorite cherry flavored chapstick, a small oval stone were among the trinkets she had ferreted away in her secret hiding spot in our family’s minivan.
Anyone else gazing on this collection would see clutter, even trash, but in them I saw the joy of a three year old. I saw the time we stayed up way past bedtime on a sticky, hot night for a frozen treat with rainbow sprinkles, or daddy reaching in his pocket to sacrifice his chapstick to an impatient toddler. I saw long walks searching for smooth flat rocks to paint for our garden, and the necklace her cousin gave her along with a kiss, last time we pulled out of their driveway.
This random mess formed an unexpected beauty, like the tangled nest of bedhead hair when she stumbles into my room early in the morning, or the art she creates for me with bold crayon scribbles. Each trinket formed a string that tied to a bright helium balloon of memory that floated in my consciousness and made me smile.
As I went about my day today, my time was consumed with executing one task after another in an endless stream of to do’s. With kids, it doesn’t take long before my to do’s are undone again. Its easy to become exhausted and for my emotional tank to hit empty. It can begin to feel like my life is a random jumble of activity as I whirl from one task to the next.
But amid the activity, God reminds me to slow down and appreciate the treasures tucked among the everyday moments.
Tonight I had my hands in soapy water, while my daughter perched on a stool at the kitchen counter coloring. “Mom draw with me!” she pleaded, in a voice a decibel louder than necessary. I almost put her off with a promise of “later,” but then I realized that “later” isn’t a good time either. There will always be laters, but there will also always be dirty dishes, counters with crumbs and footprints on floors. I dried off my hands and picked up the purple crayon. My eyes curved around her smile and traced the tips of her pointed toes, Then I pressed the sticky wax onto the scrap of paper and drew an “I” and a “U” with a heart in the middle.
As a kid, I doodled hearts on everything. I “heart” trolls and I “heart” Hello Kitty. As a teen I used hearts to dot my “i’s” and to finish my notes. But as an adult, my pen usually has time for only the serious business of signing checks and scrolling out grocery lists and chores. Its funny how as kids we are so eager to take on responsibilities, until we become so responsible that we forget how to be kids again. Finding my daughter’s pocket of treasures reminds me that the whimsical, even silly things in life are valuable too. It reminds me that just because I am a responsible adult, doesn’t mean I should give up coloring and doodling, giggling and relishing. Because I can cram my day full of to do’s that eventually become undone anyway, or, I can find opportunities for hidden moments that form memories, and shape hearts.