I Missed a Very Big Thing

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” 

― Robert Brault

In the Acton community, we are all learners – children, guides, parents. For parents, the learning often includes unlearning or relearning what we thought we had mastered.

My most important lesson of this year happened last week. It came as four small words from my son.

“Mom, I feel empty.”

“Empty” – such a common word. Yet its poignancy in this moment from this wise child was stunning.

I spun around, dropped my bag of work and invited him to please join me on the couch to talk. In gratitude for his sharing, I seized the moment to begin unpacking those simple words.

We meandered through rugged terrain that included thoughts about changes in his world since starting middle school, stresses in his life and things he wished he could change. He then zeroed in:

“We don’t sit down at the table for dinner as much as we used to.”

He was so right. What an insidious shift in my daily focus over the past few months – from regular family dinners to being spread too thin during that bewitching hour of the day.

What a big miss on my part.

My children are both in middle school now. They are Independent Learners. They need me so much less with the basic things. This, however, doesn’t mean they don’t need “us” as a family living and learning together, enjoying each other’s company without time constraints and without talking about work or school.

This relearning moment was a poignant reminder for me as an Acton parent: we mustn’t mistake Independent Learner for Independent Human. We are interdependent and entwined in wonderful ways. It doesn’t matter how you define “family.” We need each other for the nourishment of our souls and minds.

The simple ritual of breaking bread around a table together often may be what we need more than anything else.

Lesson Learned.