The other day Noah and I were out to lunch at our favorite Chelsea café. I had never had a conversation with the owner, but I knew who he was as I see him nearly every day. On this day, he stopped at our table and said to me, “I know you. And, how could I forget this boy? He’s so polite. Always saying ‘please and thank-you.’ You must be very proud.” Noah smiled shyly. I said thank you and the manager went about his day.
A couple of days later, we went to the Shake Shack in the park instead of the café for lunch. Noah politely ordered his hamburger and shake, sure to say please and thank you as always. The woman at the counter said to me with a smile, “That’s so nice to hear.” I was beaming from ear to ear as we walked away.
Then it hit me: I get to be here to share these moments in time while most children are in school and parents are at work. It’s these little things that make me so proud of Noah and the boy he is growing up to be. Am I proud that he is rehearsing to be Billy Elliot, one of the most difficult roles for a child to play in Broadway history? Damn straight I am. But honestly, I am most proud of the way he is handling change and how humble he remains. I am proud that he is so polite and appreciative of other people. And then it hit me again: I am not just putting my life at home on hold so Noah can live out his dream to perform on a Broadway stage. I am doing this so that I can have the truly incredible opportunity to spend time with my son and be here to notice the “little things.”
Life moves fast. I watched a group of three-year-olds children playing in the park today and thought to myself, “Where did the time go?” I have worked full-time ever since my kids were babies so weekends were always hectic. When it was time for my boys to go to school, that meant even less time together. I worked, they went to school. After-school hours consisted of carpools and constant driving back and forth to dance, play rehearsals, activities, friends’ houses, etc. My kids grew up in the blink of an eye. I missed the little things – they came and went and I wasn’t around to witness them. Until now.
Catching these precious moments with Noah, however, means missing them with the rest of my family, particularly my 16-year-old son Ethan. But I can’t get the time back with him. I can only focus on the here and now. So now I look forward to our phone calls and hang up missing Ethan more. I have noticed, however, that I am paying more attention to what he has to say and when he was in New York visiting, our day together was
the best we’ve had in recent memory. We went to Ground Zero and I saw him go from a silly teenager to a reflective young man. The teenager re-emerged when we got to Mid-Town Comics and Ethan picked out a collectible comic book that he had his eyes on. That day meant the world to me.
I guess I needed to leave behind the day-to-day responsibilities of my “normal” life in order to appreciate what was there all along: two very special boys. Most people never get this chance.
For what it’s worth, this past month in New York has been priceless. I feel as if I am getting to know my own children in a completely new light: not as my kids but as the truly incredible human beings they are. I am so grateful that I am able to witness the little things. I couldn’t be more proud.