Stop, Look and Listen: The Teachings of a Tenacious Toddler

 stop, look, and listen: the teachings of a tenacious toddler

My two-year-old — crooked pig-tails bouncing — pulls hard on my hand, afraid to let go lest she lose me to the mountains of laundry I started (but have yet to finish), the pile of crumbs I swept (but have yet to pick up), the naked beds I stripped (but have yet to re-make).

“Shwuvel wif me, Mommy!  ShWUVel wif me!”

Some days it’s easy to shake free of her tiny hand rationalizing the good that will come of a little distance between us: learning independent play, connecting with her older sister, entertaining herself.

But today is different… her voice more emphatic than usual, her grip on my fingers solid and unrelenting.  Her request is resolute, and she intends that I stop what I am doing immediately to “shovel” with her.

You see as I write this, it is the first week of April here in Northwest Ohio, and we are on the flip side of the snowiest winter in recorded history which means that in spite of the near 60 degree weather we’ve been having over the last few days, there is still a patch of about six inches of snow on our back deck.

So when my daughter’s fingers grasp mine, and as she leans heavy into the persuasive tug on my hand, I surprise her: I walk willingly with her through the back door and am shocked by the dwindled snow mound as it was so much bigger just yesterday.

“Sit, Mommy!” she pleads, and I do.

Together with teensy beach toys, we shovel. We build a “snow castle” bedazzled with crowning marbles atop the lookout.

And all the while, sitting in the spring sun and shoveling, a part of me is wishing the snow to stay.  Because I’m suddenly mindful that I haven’t been mindful enough.

I’m suddenly mindful that like this snow, my moments melt quickly, and I am a vapor, a mist, and she… she is a vapor, a mist, too.

But for this blip of a twinkling snippet of time, we shovel.

And I drink her in, absorbing her tender tranquility and complete contentment – a calm gratification easily attained simply by spending time… together.

A younger me would have chided why don’t I do this more often? why do I allow the tyranny of the urgent to rob me of these memories with my sweet children?

However, as an “older” (ahem) mom of a 2-year-old (I’m 44), I’m not so idealistic {anymore} to think that it is humanly possible to savor every moment or to stop time from speeding.

And I’ve come to know this: the laundry must get washed; the toilets must get cleaned; and the bacon must get home to be fried up in the pan.

But even in the monotonous rigamarole of everyday living, we can – we MUST – remember this, too: we serve a God of surprise and wonder who lurks behind the thin veil of domestic drudgery ready to astound and astonish.

we serve a God

And so I choose to keep my head up and my senses alert for gifts like today where the tenacity of a toddler pulled me to a porch drenched in springtime sunshine and an unlikely playground of snow just for me and my girl.

In Mark 8:18 Jesus, on a boat during a teachable moment amidst bread and yeast, says this to His disciples:

Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear? And don’t you remember?

My prayer for you and me – for moms and dads the world over – is that we might have eyes that see and ears to hear the God-gifts that come our way each day in and for our families.

Because snow melts fast; it won’t likely be here tomorrow.

Staying alert,


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