Spring 2008

Dear Friends

One Friday evening not long ago, I was on a train for a couple of hours. A few rows ahead of me, in seats facing each other, were a mother and her twin daughters, who appeared to be about 5 years old. I gathered from the friendly conversation between them and the conductor that they were ''regulars'' on this leg of the trip, and they were excitedly looking forward to a weekend with the grandparents and a Saturday at the zoo.

I simply couldn't take my eyes off this family. They were just so connected and engaged and present. The give-and-take between the mother and the daughters was lively, and as far as I could tell, they were truly communicating with lots of conversation, hugs, and silliness.

And then the mother's cell phone rang. While the twins continued to color in their sketch pads, Mom's face lost its glow as her side of the phone conversation went something like this: ''I have the car keys? Are you sure? Wait. Let me look in my purse. Uh-oh. I do have them. I'm sorry! Can you push my car out of the driveway and somehow get yours around it? No? Isn't your brother going to the races tomorrow and can't he drive the both of you? No?'' By now, the whole vibe of that cozy little corner of the train had changed. The girls were now intently watching their mother, who was keeping her cool, but was obviously chagrined. There were calls back and forth with the husband, but her attempts at problem-solving weren't going anywhere. It seemed that right in front of her eyes (and mine) their fun weekend with the grandparents was going down the drain. Eventually, she agreed that the three of them would get off the train at the next stop, wait for the husband to drive the 100 miles to come get the keys, while she and the kids waited for the last train of the night to resume their journey, arriving at their destination well after midnight.

Preoccupied by all of this, the mother had turned into a different person. In a nutshell, she had basically checked out and was dealing with something that demanded her attention right then. No longer was she tuned into her kids; her mind was somewhere else. And haven't we all been there as parents? Stuff just happens, there's no denying it.

I mused about how many things show up in life that we allow to distract us from truly connecting with our families. I thought of how much better off we would all be if only we were more tuned in to what situations really do warrant getting into such a preoccupied state that we ignore or dismiss the most loved, the most important people in our lives. We'd likely find that they do not include spilled milk, a bad day at work, or even a fender bender. Or getting too bent out of shape before all solutions for a problem have been explored.

Turns out the husband found an extra key somewhere in the house, allowing their weekend to proceed as planned. Although you could say that this was a happy ending, still a few precious moments of joy had been lost forever in the process.

Other Issues:
From our archives -- Offering Wisdom to New Moms

From our archives -- The Best Good Deed

From our archives -- Embracing the Wonder of Children

From our archives -- Encouraging children to live their bliss

From our archives

Holiday 2013 -- Embracing the World of Wonder

Winter 2013 -- Recipe for a Happy Thanksgiving

Fall 2013 -- Finding Beauty in the Everyday Tasks

Late Summer 2013 - Taking Our Own Advice

Midsummer 2013 -- Appreciating Nature's Bounty

Early Summer 2013 -- Being Prepared

Late Spring 2013 -- Having Realistic Expectations

Spring 2013 -- Offering Mothering Wisdom

Early Spring 2013 -- Being True to Our Nature

Holiday 2012 -- Appreciate the Goodness

Winter 2012 -- Enjoying the Anticipation

Early Fall 2012 -- Looking Back to Appreciate Now

Summer 2012 -- Chinaberry's History & Future

Early Summer 2012 -- My Dad

Late Spring 2012 -- My Satisfying Yet Untraditional Upbringing

Spring 2012 - The Consequences of Our Actions

Early Spring 2012 - Learning From Experience

Winter 2011 - The Small Moments

Holiday 2011 - The Good Deed

Fall 2011 - Gratitude

Late Summer 2011 - Overwhelmed? You're Not Alone.

Midsummer 2011 - Louise's Gallery

Early Summer 2011 - Flying 101: Giving Them Wings

Late Spring 2011 - Letting Them Fail

Spring 2011

Early Spring 2011 - Encouraging Your Kids to Live Their Bliss

Fall 2010 - The Chinaberry Commitment

Late Summer 2010 - In the Blink of an Eye

Midsummer 2010 - It's Her Story

Early Summer 2010 - Weathering the Storm

Gifts From My Mother

Spring 2010 - Enjoy the Ride

Early Spring 2010 - Enter the Land of Dirt and Bugs

Winter 2009 - Less Cleaning, More Meaning

Holiday 2009 - Finding Gratitude Every Day

Fall 2009 - Teaching Children Through Our Actions

Late Summer 2009 - A Spoonful of Sugar

Midsummer 2009 - Give Your Kids the Gift of Boredom this Summer

Early Summer 2009 - Who's the Kid and Who's the Parent?

Late Spring 2009 - Making Connections

Spring 2009 - Fully Engaging With Our Children

Early Spring 2009 - Building Character While Playing Characters

Winter 2008 - Never Underestimate the Value of a Good Hello

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