You’re busy. It’s just a trip to the store. They have been a pain all day. You’re trying to get ready to give them a special surprise.
And because of what you’re trying to do, get through, or plan, you’re not thinking about right now. You’re thinking about later. Is that so bad? In theory, of course not. The problem is that, in reality, this moment, the one right in front of you, may be the moment.
Not only in the sense of that story we’ve told about FDR, who had no idea that a certain afternoon with his kids would be the last he’d ever spend with the use of his legs. But also in the sense of what is usually most memorable in childhood. Think of your own childhood. Think of what stands out. Was it the big moments? The big conversations? Or was it ordinary experiences, ordinary interactions—ones your own parents don’t even recall—that are somehow wormed into your memory.
Like when your dad took off work and took you to a random midweek baseball game. When Mom made breakfast for dinner—your favorite—for no reason in particular. Or conversely, like when they spoke to you sharply, when you saw them do something, when you were made to feel a certain way you’ve never felt before.
As we’ve said, there is no such thing as quality time or family time. Every moment is a chance to parent. Indeed, you are shaping them every moment whether you intend to or not. Every moment could be the moment. So you can’t rush through them, you can’t assume they don’t matter, you can’t lower your standards for yourself.
Be here now. Do your job now. It just may count more than anything you’ve got planned. And they may just remember it forever.