My job with Catholic Charities takes me all over the Diocese of Arlington. The running joke is that my office is a Toyota Corolla moving at variable speeds along I-95. So I spend a lot of time in the car. I schedule phone meetings, listen to audiobooks, and try to say my rosary. I also think. A lot.
Because I'm part Irish (and by default a pessimist) I tend to think about things that didn't go well. I'm not a brooder by nature, but I do find myself thinking about the ways I didn't do an awesome job in a number of areas. Parenting screw ups are often high on that list.
I had one of those moments earlier today when I realized that I hadn't had any one-on-one time with my son in a few days. It wasn't intentional; I just didn't have the opportunity for him and I to spend time together just the two of us. We'd planned on watching a little bit of football together Sunday but it didn't work out (stomach flu making the rounds among the other ducklings). He was disappointed and got frustrated. I responded to the frustration (with much less patience than I wanted) but never empathized with his disappointment.
As I realized this today in my office-on-wheels, my first thought was "Nice job, you jerk. Way to not be patient with your son AND not even find another way to make up that time you were going to spend together."
Introspection can be a good thing. It helps us understand ourselves better, and as part of that, can help us see the areas of our life where we're doing well, and where we need to make improvements. Introspection without a willingness to make changes isn't helpful. It just becomes internal griping or a pity party for one. If we see things that could have gone better, address them. If you see you've done something that requires an apology, apologize. And if you see you missed an opportunity for something good, don't spend all your time kicking yourself, go try to create a new opportunity instead.
My son and I couldn't watch football together tonight, but we could watch highlights and read a story together. And I had the chance to tell him how grateful I was to have the opportunity to spend time with him.
This week, what changes can you make to create opportunities for connection with your kids?