In Defense of Distraction

Distractions. They outweigh my accomplishments on many, many days.

I took a personal day yesterday to tackle a couple of yes-we-moved-in-July-but-the-house-still-isn’t-finished-in-September tasks. Moving is like childbirth – long and painful enough to be sworn off until enough time passes that you forget it hurts, and the thought of a new addition once again becomes exciting and welcome. To date, I’ve made it through four baby deliveries and three times as many moving vans. Love my kids, love my house, but I. Am. Toast.

What better way to get caught up than to put my grown-up responsibilities (ahem, my JOB) on hold in the pursuit of interior decorating? My goal for the day was to paint the living room accent wall, but those plans came to a screeching halt when urgent work issues arose. Gah! Adulting always gets in the way.

Just as I wrapped up my work tasks, multiple scheduling conflicts were brought to my attention in the kiddos’ daily and weekly routines, so carpools, drivers, and pick-up times all needed immediate adjustment. No child left behind, folks. Not today, anyway.

No sooner had I smoothed out our extracurricular calendar than my college girl sent a lengthy update on all of the happenings in the first few weeks of her senior year, to which of course I just HAD to respond with motherly advice, encouragement, and above all else, opinions. Every 20-year-old girl appreciates her mother’s all-knowing insight, so who am I to disappoint?

I was in the middle of imparting my abundant wisdom when an email with a Caring Bridge link came in from the hubs. His phone call followed moments later. “This is a real kick in the gut, hon.” A dear friend of his has cancer, and it sounds grave.

My husband rarely cries. As a matter of fact, I occasionally have to check his pulse to ensure a robot hasn’t taken over. I jest, but when he does release the waterworks, it’s big, ugly, Julia-Roberts-in-Steel-Magnolias kind of tears. This is no criticism, because I’m right there with him. Yesterday, I was right there with him.

Some distractions stop you right where you are. As I sat at my desk frustrated over plans gone askew, our friends were announcing devastating news and their unwavering hope. He and his wife are young, far too young. They take care of their bodies. They are kind. They have small children. They had to tell their small children and hold them while they cried. It made no sense, and it made my concerns seem so petty. I felt very small.

So I prayed.

I prayed for all of the things you pray for when someone is sick: healing, comfort, time, peace, understanding, and miracles. Then I prayed for the ability to keep hearts settled and minds busy – I prayed for distractions.

The little interruptions, sometimes inconveniences, the things that keep me from finishing my daily tasks – distractions are what I wished for our friends. I prayed they’d have an abundance of distractions, because I know they’d bring them great joy. It’s all about perspective.

And so I prayed for perspective. I prayed the now small distractions in my life remain small.

Yes, I still have to paint that wall, but my husband is healthy.

We still need to hang curtains, but I am well.

There are still boxes to unpack and pictures to hang, but my children aren’t grieving.

And I’m reminded that all of it can change in an instant.

On Sunday, I sat on the couch with my son and watched every bit of 9/11 coverage we could. We heard a story we’d not before about a woman who stayed on the phone with her husband as smoke filled his World Trade Center office, as his breathing became slow and labored, then a chaotic collapse, and finally, silence. My son wasn’t even born when the 9/11 attacks happened, so it’s a priority that he and his siblings know and understand the significance of that day, the profound impact it had and continues to have on so many families, and the fact that life can change in an instant and without warning.

The widow’s message, more than anything, was to treasure your loved ones and show that love each and every day, because you never know when it will be your last. We’ve all heard her advice before, probably many times, but most of us can’t fully grasp the depth of such gratitude until we are faced with great loss.

Distractions. Embrace them. Perspective. Some of us would happily trade our lot for another’s. Count your blessings, and then love on them a little. You may not always be so blessed. Enjoy the interruptions. You may long for them someday.

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3 thoughts on “In Defense of Distraction

  1. Beautifully said by an amazing daughter. In case I haven’t said it lately, I LOVE YOU.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Love you dear friend…. what a special gift you have…..

    Liked by 1 person

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