I’ve been thinking a lot lately about that scene in As Good As It Gets when a teary-eyed Jack Nicholson leans in toward Helen Hunt and whispers in his gravelly voice, “You make me want to be a better man.”
It’s a funny thing about this blogging experience. The purpose in recording my thoughts, feelings, and memories is so I can cherish them down the road and feel assured that perhaps I won’t forget them right away. What I’ve discovered already in this short time has been a bonus. Simply by writing down the accounts of the day, I find that I want the time spent with loved ones to be more purposeful. Instead of letting the kids watch another episode of Curious George because, let’s face it, it’s easier when I’m trying to cook dinner, I’m starting to pay attention to the inner voice in my head that grows louder every day. It whispers things to me like, “You still have ten minutes to take the children for a nature walk before bed time,” and “Even though it’s a pain to clean up, Poppy sure would enjoy making another pixie out of wire, raffia, and glitter.” I think one of the reasons I hear this little voice more and more is that I’m trying to pay attention to the small things I hope will become the stuff of memories. By writing about the events of our day, I want to make each moment more meaningful. I’m reminded of something I first learned about in Mr. Faile’s AP Physics class (gasp!) called the Observer Effect. By definition, this term refers to changes that the act of observation will make on the phenomenon being observed. By journaling about my experiences with family, I’m actually changing the way I spend my time with them. This is an incredibly powerful cycle of motivation. I reflect therefore I aspire to be better?
I felt this very same way when I first became a member of Weight Watchers way back in the day. I used to tell myself all too frequently, “You eat healthy foods. You’re a vegetarian, for Heaven’s sake!” What I wasn’t aware of before I started writing down every cotton-picking morsel of food I placed in my mouth was how *much* of that healthy food I was consuming. Serving size? What’s that, you say? I cannot fill up this soup bowl with Honey Nut Cheerios and call it a healthy breakfast? Hmmm. It wasn’t until I saw my eating behavior written down in black and white that I understood the complete picture. It wasn’t enough to have good intentions. I had been turning a blind eye to what wasn’t convenient or easy for me. I’m a visual learner. The light bulb often doesn’t turn on for me until I see the words on a page. In the weight loss world, I was able to use this journaling tool to lose 40 pounds and reach my goal weight. Over ten years later, I am able to keep those extra pounds at bay by eating with purpose. I suppose I shouldn’t be too surprised to discover that blogging about my day-to-day life has the same effect on me. I want to be better. I want to make how I spend my time count.
The other day, I was nagging my son (about turning off the iPod, finding his shoes, finishing his breakfast, being too rough with his sister) when he replied with exasperation, “Why can’t you play with us instead of telling us what to do all the time?” Ouch. “But, but, but…” I stammered. “We just spent all morning at the pool and then we had a muffin at Whole Foods and then we watched Tangled and ate popcorn.” He couldn’t deny that we had indeed done all of those things together, but I’m sure even he could not understand why he didn’t remember the day as being “fun”. When I took a breath and reflected upon what my son said, I was reminded that going through the motions is not enough. The kids aren’t going to remember every play date, field trip, or outing. What they will remember is how they felt when we did them together. Yikes! Is it too late? More deep breaths. Another reminder to me. Be purposeful. Live deliberately. Enjoy the doing.
And so, dear children of mine, you make me want to be a better mom. And I hope by being accountable to you and to myself, I will be more present. I will listen to that little voice that inspires me and I will write it all down so I won’t forget.