Every once and a while I make the right choice. I mean when it comes to work and life and striving for balance. Sometimes I say “No” just when I should. Those “No’s” gain access to the best “Yes’s” in life.
Last week at the end of a series of 3 weekends of work, I was finishing up a conference and decided at the last minute to decline the dinner with peers. I felt pressure to go but just couldn’t stand missing out on the night with my boys. I had that longing in my heart–you know the kind–where you can feel the ache of absence, where you sincerely feel the separation from your kids like a missing body part? It was strong; all at once I said “No,” just in time.
We went to a baseball game here in Seattle. We sat only 8 rows back behind the dugout. The foul balls flying near our heads (me ducking for cover), the crowd screeching, and the sky blue. The husband and the boys had their gloves. We counted airplanes flying above. We cheered and jumped up with home runs. It was a perfect night out. Delighted to be there I had these passing waves of mindfulness, or gratitude, for being with my family and not missing out once again. We were all a little giddy to be at a real baseball game and then 2 things happened that affirmed my “No” was really a magical “Yes” afterall:
- A teenager caught a foul ball. Then he caught another ball. Then he did what many kids do—he acted generously. He saw F sitting right in front of him with his glove up and he tossed him the ball. I mean, can you believe that? A teenager gave my little 5 year-old boy a Major League baseball…bliss.
- During the middle of the sixth inning, after a bag of popcorn, a small tantrum from O, a bag of peanuts, and 4 hot dogs, Pennington went up to bat. Jon leaned over to F and said, “This guy’s hitting a ball to us.” They got their gloves up and ready. The foul ball did come. And the husband really did catch it. And my boys (all 3 of them) really did leap up for joy. We even made it onto TV (see photo above)!
Two foul balls, one perfect “No,” and a Saturday night with my boys illuminated a momentous “Yes.” It doessn’t always work this way yet every once and a while we make really good and really lucky choices. And then we’re fortunate enough to witness and celebrate them while they happen. For all the suffering that remains in so many of our lives, these little spots of light must be spoken…
Dr. Caroline Brown says
Love this post! I totally relate to the “ache” that happens when you’ve had too much work and not enough time with your family. I spent last weekend at an AAP conference in San Francisco and had a wonderful time with a dear friend and colleauge, learned a lot and enjoyed discovering a new city, but after about 48 hours away from my son, the “ache” started to set in.
It’s interesting how many times, the pressures to say “Yes” to work, to other friends, or obligations can be so much louder than the voice in our head that says “no”. So, thank goodness, for “the ache”, to help us remember the little chubby arms at home, upstretched and waiting for us.
I absolutely love nights like that. When it all comes together and there is just pure joy and fun. Good for you for listening to your heart and doing what matters most. I strive for as many nights like that as I possible can especially while my littles are still little.
Christina Babin says
Hello Dr. Swanson!
I wanted to let you know how inspiring your talk was today at the Shot Smarts Conference in Boise. I met you briefly just before you left and was the goofy one who could possibly pass as your double in your videos:) I used to be the registry coordinator for the state and miss these opportunities to travel with amazing speakers like you for this conference.
I’m also a mother of two young children and am a part time health educator at one of the hospitals. I some how balance about 8 different classes and support groups (from prenatal tours,Baby and Me support, happiest baby on the block, bereavement, car seat checks and on and on). My latest project is helping to create a newborn sleep program that starts education before parents deliver. Your ideas today really encouraged us to think outside the box in how we communicate with our families.
Thank you and I may contact you for any other ideas or technical assistance!
Saint Alphonsus Health Educator
Wendy Sue Swanson, MD says
Thanks, Christina. It was wonderful to meet you and I look forward to seeing you online more! Here’s a link to the presentation from yesterday if you’re interested : bit.ly/mamadocshots
Kara Corridan says
This is fantastic! And the photo just makes it. Glad you had such a magical night.
Julie murphy says
Thank you so much for sharing this piece of bliss!!
Chris Johnson says
I take my 9-year-old son to our local AAA team all the time (the mighty Albuquerque Isotopes — yes, that is really their name). It’s great for a Little League third baseman to sit along the line see a pro third baseman at work twenty feet away. And at the AAA level most of the kids in the first few rows get balls one way or another.
The best life lesson of baseball is that there is no clock. It changes the whole gestalt of the experience.
such a great post! and that joy on your face in the photo is so awesome!
Great post! These are the choices and moments that make our lives richer…your boys will remember this night forever.
Tobie Barton says
So glad I said “yes” to driving you to the airport today. It was a pleasure to meet you. Glad you made the flight. Thanks for your inspirational and thoughtful work.
Tobie Barton says
So glad I was able to say “yes” to driving you to the airport. It was a pleasure to meet you. Thank you for your inspirational and thoughtful work. We were really lucky to have you in Idaho this past week.
Glad you made the earlier flight!
Craig Canapari MD says
Wendy, I feel you. We consciously try to have weekends with little or no plans whatsoever (when possible) just to hang. Spend half the day digging a hole and planting two azaleas w/ my 4 year old. When we were done, he asked me to sit with him on the steps and then just hugged me for awhile. You don’t get those moments if you don’t create a space for them to happen.
What a great story — thanks for sharing and reminding us of the things that make parenting so special.