Weird fact about me: For a long time, I had recurring dreams about Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt.
I don’t really know why. I’m not an avid fan or really care much about celebrity hype. But in the dreams, I was actually interviewing them—asking them real questions about their lives. It was strange.
My only conjecture was that I admire her altruistic work overseas. Like Audrey Hepburn’s volunteer work in third world countries.
There is a deep yearning in me to travel to these distant places and go around actively feeding and helping people in need. Like the amazing man in this must-see video (only 2:47 minutes long). It made me cry with inspiration and longing.
Sometimes I feel disappointed in myself for finding excuses not to go: what would I do with the kids? How could I leave everybody? This isn’t the right time…(You know the drill.)
And then I realized that I don’t have to go to Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Vietnam, or Africa in order to do good works. There are people right here who need help too.
So I considered going to a soup kitchen to help out. But then I thought about the lousy meals I’ve been making for my family and how I’ve neglected focusing on their health and welfare in my altruistic drive to “do something good” in the world.
I made the commitment that the true good works need to start here. Right now. In my own home. So here’s what I decided (and work on each day):
To pay total attention to developing the five small human beings who entrusted me with their care. And to one devoted husband who agreed to take this journey with me as my spouse.
To make eye contact when they talk to me without texting or typing through a conversation pretending that I can do both jobs well. And then make eye contact for no reason at all. Just because.
To shut off my computer when my husband walks through the door and give him a hug and say: I’m so happy to see you.
To pause if I find that I’m in locomotive-mode, stop barking orders, take time to listen, and get active participation and agreements. We are a team, after all.
To tell them how special they are and then describe, describe, describe what I notice about them that makes me feel that way.
To remember to check whether or not my son changed his old shirt from the day before or if—in his rush to get dressed in the morning—he lifted yesterday’s ketchup-stained shirt from off the floor and wore it again. Then check-in with each of the kids that they’re feeling good inside before starting their day in the world.
To sing silly songs like “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine” to remind them of who they are when they’re feeling lost.
To make sure we smile, laugh, and hug at least a few times before the day is through.
To take time to massage their little toes and feet before bedtime to ease them into sleep. Or fluff their hair. Or rub their backs.
Because that’s where I get to make the greatest difference. For now.
And that’s just fine enough.