What’s that old adage about standing back and looking at things from a different perspective?

One of the hardest things about being a parent is never really knowing if what you’re doing for your children is making a difference, resonating. Sometimes this requires us to stand back.

Last week I volunteered to work at a fundraiser centered on a shared community meal. At the beginning of the night, we were asked, “What has been your favorite moment this summer?” I listened to what the other guests said and thought about what I would say.

There have been so many great moments and I had an immediate  feeling of gratitude in simply knowing that I have been collecting some pretty awesome experiences this summer, most of them with my family at my side.

The seasons are just beginning to change and the kids are all headed back to school soon. This summer began as my family returned from a trip to Spain and Italy. It was incredible.

We even took my 76 year old mother trekking through the streets of Barcelona and past the gates of ancient Italian sanctuaries and gardens.

At one point during our trip, I stood back and watched my children take their grandmother, or “Oma” as they call her,  by the arm and make sure she was tackling the steps safely. Their care for her was inherent and came without prompt.

I was so proud.

Another moment came when we took a private cooking class in Rome, Italy at Cook With Us with the enigmatic owner, Cesare… and I watched as my children crafted exquisite gourmet meals. There was my 9 year old son, chopping, mincing and sautéing; they were all so open to learning something new, experiencing different foods and new ways to prepare them.

And then there were two instances as we were walking back to our hotel or simply through the streets and I watched from a short distance as both of my teenage daughters took her father’s hand in hers and walked down the cobblestone street together with him.

Towards the end of our trip, in theGothic Quarter of Barcelona, we came across a group of young street musicians playing rag time style jazz. Two elderly men…strangers…began to dance. A moment earlier they had been standing on opposite ends of our tiny crowd. The next, they were snapping fingers, shaking hips… their faces resolute, yet smiling and with just a hint of attitude. The gathering crowd began to cheer and as I watched, I was reminded of the power music has to bring people, even complete strangers, together.

I’ve written before of my love of music and now here on a street a thousand miles away, I was reminded again of just how true that is.

As I stood listening at that fundraiser last week as the dinner guests shared their favorite moments of the summer, I began to notice an overlap. So many of them were spent in the company of family or traveling or attending concerts and reunions. There was a binding thread behind all of their different words…community.

As a parent, I have found the joy that comes when I stand back and allow my children to surprise me and show me what they’ve learned and what they are capable of. As a member of our shared community, I have learned a similar lesson…that when we stand back and look at the bigger picture, we are more alike than we are different. We are all seeking joy. We are all seeking a sense of unity, belonging and connection. Let’s continue to focus on that.



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