My daughter and I keep missing each other. Sometimes we meet, though, but not exactly as it was planned. What to do with the unplanned makes all of the difference. Last week I was returning from a beach vacation and we had a window of a day to meet before the beach vacation she was taking with her husband. We both wanted time, yet time was short. We decided to meet for dinner. She finished work at five o’clock and I needed to touch base with a colleague at either five o’clock or eight o’clock. She decided to meet me at 5:15. And I made my appointment for eight.
She worked till five that night and told me that she would text me as she left so that we could meet for dinner. At five I began to wait for her text. At 5:30 I was still waiting for her text. 5:45--still waiting. 6:00--still waiting. And a bit irritated that she was not responding to my text. 6:15 rolls around. And I get a call, “Mom, I am so sorry. I just am finishing up with work. Two people walked in and I couldn’t leave. I can meet you in thirty minutes. Let’s meet at Aladdin’s.”
Aladdin’s is a lovely restaurant on the canal near our home. The problem with that restaurant is that it is busy and there always is a wait. “Rae, I don’t think that will work. I have to leave by 7:30 to get to the 8:00 appointment.” (To myself I added, “that I could have gone to at 5.) Yes, irritation was there.
“Ok, mom. Let’s go to Chipotles then. So that we have as much time as we can have.” I have to admit, I was fighting the irritation. Yet I missed her and was looking forward to the visit, albeit a shorter one than planned.
She arrived at the restaurant when I was in line and came to me giving me a tight hug. “I am SO glad to see you, mom. And I am sorry I am late.”
“That’s ok. But I do only have a half-hour because of my appointment. It is good to see you.” My response was genuine and rose above the irritation.
The woman in front of us in line overheard our conversation. “Would you like to go in front of me in line since you only have a half hour?” We thanked her and budged ahead when she added, “It is so nice to see you both not arguing about something that so easily could have gone in that direction.”
We ate. We visited. We connected. I made a decision to pay attention to the connection rather than the irritation. It made all of the difference.
* * *
This morning I got a text from Rachel during her vacation in Jamaica. “Mom, we are having a wonderful time. And I miss you so much! I can’t wait to see you. Let’s meet for dinner this weekend.”
“Ok,” I replied, “I can’t wait to lay my eyeballs on you! Oh, and have you burned?”
“Not at all. Perfect vacation!”
I had a choice, when confronted with her lateness. I knew that it was lateness that was unavoidable. I knew that she typically doesn’t keep people waiting. And I knew that I needed to be somewhere at 8:00. I knew that it could have gone differently if she told me to make my appointment earlier. But she didn’t and I didn’t. I could have made a choice to show my irritation. I could have made a choice to not keep my eight o’clock commitment. There were lots of ways to respond to the circumstances of that evening. I chose to keep a commitment and to connect.
I am so glad I did. Connection brings joy. Connection makes a difference.
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