I have long lost any patience I once had for sixth grade math homework. Or, let’s be honest, I was never really any good at sixth grade math but, nonetheless, I’m attempting to help my youngest son with his nightly math assignment. My oldest son is home from college for the week and he dismisses me. “Why are you yelling at him?” he asks, followed by, “I’ve got this mom.” I skulk into the family room but surreptitiously watch them. Their heads are bent together, the little one and the big one, and I feel a physical ache in my heart. Watching the people you love, love each other, is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I’m having a moment, a quiet moment of joy.
I once thought that joy came from the big milestone events in life like weddings, graduations, bar mitzvahs or the birth of a child. But, maybe I’m just too neurotic for that to be the case. For me, those big events are always completely fraught with anxiety. Who will wake up with the plague the day of the big event because, let’s face it, you know someone will. Is everyone having fun at the party, even the scowling old people with the earplugs? Does everyone have the appropriate clothes? I mean, those pants fit him ten minutes ago. Can a teenage boy outgrow his clothes in a week?
I have found that happiness comes in the small moments of joy that creep up on me in an ordinary day. Some of the moments are part of the daily routine like that first sip of hot coffee on a cold morning and the morning telephone conversation with my daily callers to reconnect after the night. Then there are the moments that are purely sensory delights; the feel of the sun on your face after a long, grey winter, the sight of a beautiful sunset or the thrill of hearing your favorite song on the radio.
Some moments of joy surprise you. There’s the moment that you realize you’ve made a connection with someone and your relationship with an acquaintance has deepened into a friendship. Recently, I ran into someone who told me that some long forgotten thing I said to her years ago gave her great comfort at the time. That was a joyful moment for me.
But, the best moments for me are when I see my children interacting with each other as adults. Big and middle shop together now, consult on fashion, talk about relationships and I think to myself, “You had a hand in this. You nurtured these brothers who are now capable of giving and receiving advice, support, encouragement and love.” It’s a heady moment.
So, milestones will come and go, together with their attendant stresses, but here I stand, full of wonder, waiting and hoping for more of the small stuff, more quiet moments of joy.