In Full View

In Full View

Exhaust the little moment.
–Gwendolyn Brooks
I am one of the lucky ones. I work mostly from home, but luckier still: I love what I do. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

A few years ago, I was working on my first book. The effort dominated my time and thoughts every moment for months on end. As my deadline drew closer, my workdays extended well into the nights. Spring stretched into summer, which soon became fall, and I was holed up in my home office so much that I might as well have not been home at all.

On more than one occasion, I sat at my desk with my head in my hands asking myself how I got into this situation, and how in the world was I going to get myself out of it. I pushed through by reminding myself that when this project was finished, it would all be worth it.

Until then, though, virtually everything was put on hold. I was soon beyond exhausted and stressed to the max. As the time until my deadline grew short, my patience grew shorter, and my temper was shorter still. So when my son, Carter, came bouncing through my closed office door one day, I was ready to pounce:

“Have you lost your mind?”

But before I could say anything further, he had placed two perfectly shaped, copper-colored maple leaves on top of a pile of papers on my desk and looked up at me with his most irresistible grin.

With his small, 3-year-old finger, he pointed carefully. The leaves were exactly alike, except one was large and one was tiny. “This is the Mommy leaf,” he said, “and this is the baby leaf. See? This is you, and this is me. I love you, Mommy. Bye!” And as quickly as he had come in, he was out, pulling the door closed behind him.

“Hey, Carter,” I called out, “where are you going? Before you go, can I have a hug?”

His face lit up and he ran into my arms. With happy tears in my eyes, I pulled him onto my lap: “Tell me again about these leaves.”

I wish I could say I ditched my work that day to play with my son. But I didn’t. We shared a brief moment, and then I went back to work. However, I was in a far different frame of mind.

My son and I only had a moment, but we made the most of it. In fact, that moment is still with me. It comes back to me when I’m stressed and weary. It comes back to me when I need to remember what matters most. My first book party and all that followed remain warm but hazy in my memory today. It’s been a few years. Yet, with crystal clarity, I remember that moment with my boy, and I have two brown, dried-up leaves to remind me, just in case.

We all spend so much time working toward and looking for life’s big moment, when it’s the smallest ones that