Important things are important until they become unimportant. A survivor of the recent earthquake in Haiti provided a radical reminder of how we prioritize in our lives. In a viral message to the world, only hours after the devastating quake, he wrote: "A lot of important things became unimportant today."
We can only imagine the horror he and other Haitians are enduring. Even for a country familiar with deep tragedy, this is unparalleled. On every level, it’s gut wrenching to watch.
Yet, perhaps when we get past our stunning disbelief and tearful empathy, tragedies like this help us look introspectively at how we’re prioritizing the important things in our own lives. We begin to challenge ourselves with a battery of questions: Are we giving enough of our time, talent and treasure to help others? Are we living our most authentic lives? And, for so many of us mamas and dads, are we putting forth our best as parents?
You won’t be surprised to know I’m not the best parent on every day. Too often, I’m off my game and caught up in things masked as greatly important. But, by golly, I’m proud to say I know I got it right a couple of weeks ago, when my five-year-old forced me to choose between an important task and the most important action item of the day. The kids were still on winter break and the bitter cold weather had us in hibernation. Well, my little one had had enough of the great indoors and he yearned to explore the outdoors again. He’d already gone out to test the waters but, because of the frigid temperature, could convince neither of his two older brothers to join him. He sadly told me how he wanted to play outside, but nobody wanted to play with him. So, with his big, brown, sorrowful eyes fixed on me he pitifully asked: will you play with me outside?
The voice in my head said, "Heck no; despite the sunshine, it’s breezy and below freezing. I am not putting one toe out the door. Besides, can’t you see, I’m busy doing important housework?" But, thankfully, my heart couldn’t resist the proposition. So, there I was, halting my all important chores and bundling up from head to toe for a backyard play date with my son. We played only about 15 minutes before Mother Nature forced us back inside to thaw. Yet, I recognized in that moment that going outside with that precious kid was the most important thing I had done and would do all day.
And, so I will carry in my heart the message from the Haitian earthquake survivor who reminds us to honor what is most important in life. May God bless Haiti and bring its people deep comfort and speedy aid.
Kysa Daniels is a journalist, non-profit professional and mother of three boys. For more Adventures in Parenting and parenting tips, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org