There she was—walking into the tiny gym and onto the risers with her class. She had the cutest pigtails in and was wearing a great red, white, and blue outfit. She grinned from ear to ear when she saw me and gave a small wave. Then she tried to look professional and stand ready to sing, hands at her side, but her eyes and her smile kept darting my way.
As I sat there waiting for the concert to start, my mind was rushing through lists of all that needed to take place today, including popping into work, running errands, and going to a wedding. Then it switched to all the things coming this next week and just as I started to picture the calendar on my wall, so full of events coming up this month, I stopped myself. Breathe, I thought. That’s been my go-to coping skill this month when anxiety rises. Breathe.
As the battle for my focus kept trying to surface, it hit me: this is Lucy’s only Third Grade Patriotic Music Program. She’s worked on and practiced this. She’s so excited to show off her songs, her motions, and even the lines she’d been entrusted to memorize. This moment will not happen again. It deserves my full attention.
Moms, May might be an insane month with overflowing calendars and so many activities, but each one of those activities is special to our kids. Our kids want us to enjoy their special moments. For the single mom, that might seem a tall order in a month filled with so many things that you and only you must attend. But each of these things on our calendar represents a moment of their childhood that will not come again. Remembering to be present in each of these is important.
This day was my daughter’s only last music program of third grade.
This month is my eldest son’s only last jazz band concert and only high school graduation.
This will be my other son’s only junior-year state Special Olympics Swim Meet.
This month is also my other daughter’s only Freshman Spring Orchestra Concert.
Added all together with all the other things I’m doing, it’s a whirlwind of stress and must-do. Each is another thing on my over-full calendar and another reminder I’m parenting alone. But on the day of the event, it’s their only one of these.
They need me to smile, to applaud, and to cheer them on. They don’t need to see me zoned, stressed, or darting furtive glances at the clock, wishing for time to fly. They need to feel like there is no place else in the world I’d rather be. And really, some of this perspective comes from realizing just how many of these I have gone to for my graduating son and how much each feels like it happened only yesterday.
For an hour, I tried my best to quiet the chaos that day whispered to me and really drink in her performance. I’ll be honest, occasionally my eyes strayed to the wall clock and I would start to lose focus again, thinking of where I needed to be next. But then I’d intentionally stop and step back into the moment around me, including her proud recitation of some of the poem on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. She was fantastic. She looked so adorable. I tried not to get chocked up when I thought of how grown up she’s starting to look. I tried to fight the tears of realizing she’ll be in fourth grade next year already. But she did get a lot of hugs that day.
Moms all around me have talked this year about feeling that May is an overwhelming jumble of activities. If you feel that way, it’s not just you. But remembering that this event, the one you are headed to right now or tonight or later this week, is the only one of these in their childhood. Maybe that’ll help you drink in the moment.
What’s one way you turn off the noise and focus on your kids’ big events? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.