“It’s MY turn!”

“No, it’s MY turn! Remember? Last time you pushed the elevator button on the way up, both the inside AND outside buttons. Then on the way down, someone was already there,” (jerk), “and the button had already been pushed. That means this time I get to push it all three times!!”

“Well, I’m going to beat you there!”

“NO! Wait! Not fair! MOMMYYYYYY!!!!!”

It was the all familiar argument on the way down from the doctor’s office after my allergy shots. I had been oh so relieved when the kids started school to not have to drag them with me three times a week. Every single time it was an argument about those darn elevator buttons. It was so nice going in peacefully, waiting quietly, not having to scold anyone for crawling around on the nasty floor, or walking all the way in before noticing my son’s shoes had been left in the car and having to go back to get them, not having to make a potty stop, and waiting in peace while I read.

But last week, I got delayed during the morning and ended up having to do it after school was out. Did I miss the arguing? No. Not at all. But I noticed something that I hadn’t paid attention to before. In a quiet moment as we rode up the elevator, my son sighed contentedly. “Ahhh,” he said with a smile, “I sure love buttons.”

He got joy – real JOY – from the little clicking sound when he pushed the button, and the way the light illuminated at his touch. It made him so happy that he had to announce his contentment in a sigh. “Ahhh… I sure do love buttons.” It gave ME joy. Joy I think I’d been missing out on for a long time.

Why hadn’t I ever noticed that joy before? I was so blinded by my haste, and my choice to focus on the argument instead of these sweet little gems my children offer, that I missed the joy. 

I think those gifts are all around us, all the time. Sometimes it takes a tremendous effort to see past our rush, our bad day at work, our headache, our cluttered house and arguing kids, our aching feet, and the hundreds of things we have left to do before our head can hit the pillow. But if we look hard enough, it’s there. Most of the time, it won’t fall in our lap. We have to look for that joy. And we have to look hard.

So today I’m going to look harder. I’m going to stop long enough to notice it. How good something smells. How it reminds me of Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house. How beautiful that deep purple color is that lady is wearing. How fresh the breeze feels. How much I love that clean laundry smell. How I love to hear the rain on my roof.

Yes, I need to look harder. I might have to struggle to find it. It may be hard to see. But that’s the stuff I don’t want to miss. That’s the stuff worth me spending my entire day in a desperate search for. Because what a shame for the gift of joy to await me in an elevator, and for me to turn my back on it because I’ve made my arguing kids or my aching head too big for me to see past.