Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Being Present

Yesterday after a long day at my professional job, I arrived home and immediately launched into my "non-professional" job of administering our personal lives. As usual, I went straight to the computer to check email. I was expecting an email from a painter scheduled to give us a quote and the usual correspondence from the kids' schools, friends and neighbors.

As I was scanning my email, DD#1 sat down next to me and starting babbling about something. Ever the multi-tasker, not paying particularly close attention to what she was saying, I gave her the perfunctory "Huh?"s and "Uh huh"s while reading my email. Then something clicked in my head and a voice said,

"Hey, your daughter's talking you! She's trying to engage you in conversation. Is that email really that important? LISTEN to her!"

I decided in that moment that no, that email wasn't that important. I pushed my laptop away, looked at my daughter and focused on what she was saying. Turns out she was talking about octopuses and how the mommy octopus dies after she gives birth ("Did you know that, mom?" No, I didn't know that.) and how that made her very sad. And she didn't really know why the mommy octopuses die but she thinks that it's because the mommy is so busy taking care of the babies before they're born that she doesn't have time to eat and she starves.

"Can we look up stuff on your computer, Mom, because I have so many questions!"

So together we asked Google, fountain of all knowledge, how big octopus babies are (turns out they're the size of a grain of rice when they're born) and why mother octopuses die after breeding. DD#1's theory was right -- the mother octopus is so busy protecting and oxygenating her eggs that she fasts and dies of starvation by the time the eggs hatch. I also helped her update her "blog" that she started last year (but hasn't updated since). You can read her very independent-minded and heart-felt post here. She asked me to ask you to read it and to tell your kids to read it.

After we answered her burning questions and updated her "blog," DD#1 skipped off to play with her sister, happy that we learned about octopuses and proved her theory, but probably happier that she got a few moments of her mother's undivided attention.

And I, for my part, resolved to do a better job remembering that the most important part of my "non-professional" job was not answering email, but to be present with my husband and kids.

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