Doing Nothing

January 19, 2009: We’ve gotten lots and lots of parenting advice over the past year. The majority of it has been unsolicited, but for the most part, it has been very well intentioned.

By far, the most common bit of advice has been something along these lines: Cherish every moment; it all goes so fast.

Honestly, I pretty much discarded this one as obvious and irrelevant to me. I’m a motivational speaker, for crying out loud; it’s the same sort of advice I’ve dished out for years. I concluded that the givers of this advice all meant well, but clearly didn’t know how I roll.

Well, just the other day, after completing the major work-related items on my to-do list, I decided to relieve Kim and assume the Lucy-related caregiving duties so she could rest. Lucy and I nestled into our glider, where she promptly ate several ounces and drifted off to sleep. I sat there for a few moments, soaking in the silence. I could barely believe my good fortune that she had fallen asleep so quickly. I could now check even more things off my list! Just as I was about to set her down on the couch, it struck me:

Oh my gosh. I’m doing it. I’m missing some of the best moments.

Like being hit by a ton of bricks, I was reminded that there will always be e-mail to check and tasks to do, but the opportunities to hold this sleeping little angel grow fewer each day.

We all have work to be done and responsibilities that need to be taken care of; but as I said, I had already accomplished the main goals for the day. I discovered that it is a slippery slope which leads from responsible productivity to the trap of a never-ending quest to GET STUFF DONE.

Adultitis is a sinister foe, and no one is immune. Our fast-paced culture has tricked us into believing that we should always be busy, always “doing” something. We confuse the urgent with the important. We unwittingly turn irrelevant tasks into priorities simply because they can be checked off some list. We somehow feel guilty and unproductive if we spend too much time doing…nothing.

And therein lies the rub, my friend. Doing nothing isn’t really doing nothing. Holding my baby girl while she sleeps and soaking in a quiet moment might not be decreasing the messages in my inbox. But it’s certainly not “nothing.”

Quite the contrary. Taking the time to do nothing once in a while – especially with the people we love – is often the single most important thing we can do in an entire day.

I know that years from now, when I am giving Lucy away on her wedding day, I will not remember any of the “productive” things I did this week. But the images of her button nose, bald head, pursed lips and peaceful slumber will remain with me forever.

My goal is that on that day, which I know will be here before I know it, I won’t find myself wishing that I had spent more time doing nothing.

* * * * *

This post is an excerpt from our new book, Just You Wait, a collection of insightful, humorous, and totally unvarnished journal entries detailing our adventures in fighting Adultitis as first-time parents. Parents of all sorts – and especially first-timers – will enjoy the honest look at the roller coaster ride that is parenting. Buy it now!

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