Kurt Vonnegut wrote:
“Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realize they were big things.”
When my children were younger and I was teaching full time, I used to complain about having too much work to do. I used to always wish that the days were a bit longer so that I could have a little time to myself during the day. How I longed for that little time! Because after a full day of teaching, I had to cook dinner, help the kids with their lessons and homework, drive them to ballet or football practices, give them their baths, and put them to bed after reading them their favorite bedtime stories. But still the day wouldn’t be over for me. I had to prepare for my classes and mark papers. Most nights I would be up till after midnight only to wake up early next morning to repeat it all. In order to have some time for myself, I used to set the alarm at 5:00 in the morning and have my coffee and read for one hour. That was my ‘me’ time. Some days I would be so tired. I longed for that little time, just to relax and do nothing. My mom used to tell me, “Enjoy your time now. I know you are tired but your pain is only physical. Wait till your kids are in their teens.” How could it get worse than this?
Years went by and by the time my children became teenagers, we changed continent. We moved to Montreal, Canada, a new city, a new country. Before we even settled down, both my teenagers started school. The idea of them taking the metro every day for the first time in a city they did not know, the dangers they faced being on the road every day when all their lives I had driven them to school and back gave me goosebumps. I lost sleep worrying about their safety, blaming myself for placing them in harm’s way. And as Daniel Defoe wrote:
“Thus fear of danger is ten thousand times more terrifying than danger itself when apparent to the eyes; and we find the burden of anxiety greater, by much, than the evil which we are anxious about.”
I had nightmares every day about almost everything they did, and everywhere they went. I worried about the kind of people they would meet, the kind of friends they would associate with. Would they be able to find good friends? Would they stay out of harm’s way? And to think that this was just the beginning. Only then did I understand what my mother had told me long ago. Even after five years, when I finally have my ‘me’ time it’s a different story. I still have nightmares. I try not to, I try to be rational about it all but things happen.
“To think is easy. To act is hard. But the hardest thing in the world is to act in accordance with your thinking.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe