It was after her bedtime story on an evening where I had a sink full of dishes, a house littered with toys and a to-do list with more “do’s” than “done’s”. I was exhausted from the day and the thought of tackling everything that needed to get done and putting a toddler to sleep seemed daunting. It was one of those nights where I rushed through If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, and crossed my fingers that she would fall asleep swiftly. I remember my feelings of dread and annoyance when she got that late night burst of energy.
And then she asked me that question and my world stood still. Her soft, squeaky toddler voice asking me to listen to her “heart-beeps”.
I swallowed the lump in my throat and put my ear to her chest where I heard the sweetest sound in the world; her strong and steady heartbeat.
Tears trickled down my cheeks uncontrollably as I listened. I don’t know exactly why I was so emotional.
Maybe it was because I realized, in that very moment, the insignificance of everything other than that sound. How my dirty dishes, messy home, to-do list paled in comparison to taking the time to be grateful for her beating heart.
Maybe it was because I realized that all of those things I was worried about “accomplishing” that evening did not compare to being fully present in that important bedtime routine with her.
Maybe it took me back to the first time I heard her heartbeat when I was pregnant. The soft, strong sound that changed my life forever.
Maybe it was the reminder that there were so many parents who had lost a child and would trade anything to hear their son or daughter’s heartbeat again.
Maybe because it triggered memories of friends who unsuccessfully tried to become parents and would be over the moon to listen to their child’s heartbeat.
It was a moment that stopped me in my tracks, and really slowed me down going forward. It was what I needed to start making the conscious effort not to rush through bedtime and to be more present. I got so caught up in the motions of crossing off items on a list, that I stopped taking in what truly mattered most.
Don’t get me wrong; I am still a work in progress. Slowing down and being present is something I am reminding myself of every single day. With all of the distractions that come my way, I need these subtle (and not so subtle) reminders.
Nowadays, when she asks me to listen to her “heart-beeps” all of the stresses of the day seem to melt away. The coloring on the fireplace, pinching of her baby brother, “threenager” tantrums all blur as I block out everything and listen to that important sound. A reminder of what is truly important. Even her mispronouncing the word, “heart-beep” for heartbeat, is something that makes my own heart swell with love.
If you are reading this, stop what you are doing and go listen to your baby’s heartbeat. Soak in that amazing sound, everything else can wait.