The Quiet Observer


There are times in my life as a mother where I get to quietly observe my son and his experience of life. Although these moments are rare they are my most cherished memories. It’s in these moments I am fully engaged, everything exaggerated. I can remember the smells, the temperature of the air, when the breeze blew and ruffled my hair and when it did not.

Recently there have been three that stand out, where I truly allowed myself the luxury of being what I call the Quiet Observer.

The first was when we were in Hong Kong. The second was the day he road his bike all by himself. The third was the day we went for a bike ride, just the two of us, to the park.

I let him lead the way and make all the decisions on where we went and as beautiful as that was, what I remember most, was swinging with him on the swings in the park.

Henry has never learned how to swing properly. It’s been starts and stops and fits of frustrations with lectures and examples of how to “Pump your legs! Do it like this! Watch me, watch your friends! “which usually ended in tears or more often in a silent giving up by both parties culminating with tummy swinging and spinning in circles, feet dragging in the dirt creating whirlwinds of dust clouds.

Today was different.

Today, in my reverie, my Quiet Observer moment, I was asked by my son if I would hold his hand while we swung next to each other. This was the first time he’d asked me this and I said yes, of course, very aware of the moment, the freedom of being without expectations of what I needed or wanted him to do.

I will never forget when he streched his little hand out to mine, smiling up at me, the warmth of his palm, his little fingers clasped tightly around my hand, as we pushed away from the ground together, hand-in-hand, little swirls of dust kicking up under us as we glided over our starting point.

And we swung. HE swung, small legs pumping in rhythm to my much longer strides, but he was doing it! He was swinging for the first time ever, on his own he was doing the movements that every kid, this big one included, takes for granted when you get on a swing. I watched as he’d lean back and pull forward, the wind blowing his hair away from his forehead. His eyes closed and a smile on his face. I couldn’t have been in a more blissful state. I was so at peace watching him float through the air that I too decided to let go and just swing. Leaning back, floating forward, air running along my arms and face, through my hair, his hand in mine. It wasn’t easy this tandem swing but we did it, the two of us. When I opened my eyes I turned to look at him and he was looking at me, his beautiful smile on his face and his blue-green eyes twinkling in the dusk light. His checks, flush and rosy from the cool evening air, forever captured in my memory. In my internal flash drive, I still remember it all.

As often as I try (and wish) to capture these moments on film, I realize that sometimes being IN THE MOMENT, REALLY, being in the moment is better than any picture. The feelings, the tactile experience, the emotions cannot be captured on film and it’s these moments that will be with me a lifetime.

2 thoughts on “The Quiet Observer

  1. Wow. Beautiful article, and a hugely important parenting lesson. Thanks for sharing this with the world.

    1. Thank you Paul that means a lot coming from you! I think as parents we get bogged down sometimes in the role of parenting we sometimes forget, or maybe don’t allow ourselves, the luxury being The Qiet Observer. I try to let it be MY reminder that it’s okay sometimes to just sit back and watch this little plant grow. Thanks again for being part of the conversation.

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